Youth conference strives to be open to all participants

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Youth conference strives to be open to all participants

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The staff of The Philanthropists, a nonprofit organization, including the president, Kim Ki-dong, fifth from left, stand at a podium during a conference on Aug. 4. By Park Sang-moon


At first glance, The Philanthropic Conference might seem like an average meeting to discuss development issues. But the international gathering, held by nonprofit organization The Philanthropists, aimed to be different in terms of the audience it reached.

Keeping in mind the needs of those with disabilities, organizers made special accommodations at the Aug. 4 event’s 12 panels, which focused on issues like green development, education, social welfare, social ventures and microfinance.

During one such meeting, a sign language interpreter faced participants. At the same time, a large television screen displayed live video of the speaker with his words, transcribed by a stenographer, scrolling across the top.

Lee So-yeon, a 24-year-old who is hearing-impaired, didn’t have any difficulty understanding the lectures.

“I found out about the conference through Facebook and as those with disabilities are attending, having stenography, sign language interpreters and dictated words on display will help all the attendees realize that we, too, can discuss issues and be concerned about them together.”

The Philanthropists’ first conference saw more than 400 participants and was also attended by Sean, a singer from Jinusean who also works as a philanthropist. Organizers also considered their demographic in setting ticket prices in order to attract the highest number of participants.

“Most conferences are overpriced, so many students have trouble participating,” said Kim Ki-dong, president of The Philanthropists. “We reduced the entry fee to allow young adults to enjoy the conference.”

Across the panels, participants asked questions, learned about successful cases and worked to better understand their roles in shaping the future.

Experts from a variety of organizations, including the Korea International Cooperation Agency, The Hope Institute and the Korea Social Enterprise Production Agency, joined together to offer advice to the younger participants.

Kang Byung-kyu, the head of Algoridea, participated as one of the mentors. Algoridea is a social venture which provides equal opportunities in education both online and in the classroom. After his lecture on EduLounge, an offline educational space founded by Algoridea, Kang said, “I wanted to send a message to young adults that their futures are not limited to pursuing businesses or becoming public officials. There are various paths that can be taken. Young adults should value themselves and pursue what they want.”

The participants attended the conference with an obvious interest in social innovation.

“I am personally interested in development issues because I majored in international developmental studies in my school,” said Angie An, a 24-year-old student at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“I want to create my own nongovernmental organization someday, so I came here to hear some opinions, recommendations or anything related in terms of nongovernmental organizations or nonprofit organizations.

“It definitely is giving me an opportunity to see what is out there because I am interested in nongovernmental organization but do not know much about it,” she added. “So it helps me get a perspective of how it is in general and what I can possibly do and ways and things to consider for me to create my own nongovernmental organization.”

Besides the panels, The Philanthropists has previously organized other projects, including a concert, magazine, brunch, nonprofit consulting and seminars.

The events are headed by young adults who look forward to changing society by raising their voice as a group.

The organization raised more than 8 million won ($7,070) from The Philanthropic Concert in January. The money will help provide vaccines to prevent sexual transmitted infections in Africa. “This new, younger generation is not an apathetic one,” Kim said. “It understands that it is important to raise social awareness and gather as a whole to develop society.”

By Kim Ye-jin, Hong Ji-hyun [enational@joongang.co.kr]

Kim and Hong are intern reporters.
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