There were 95 participants from eight Asian countries, including 24 participants from Japan (of which 18 were students)
That attitude did not change when they were in the youth hostel. Japanese students were asked every single detail about university co-ops and Student Committee in Japan by Korean students who stayed in the same room. Thanks to the informal discussion, I was able to picture the characteristics of Japan's university co-ops and Student Committee. In Japan, we had opportunities to learn about other blocks or other university co-ops, but we never had the opportunity to learn about university co-ops in other countries. Thus, being able to hear the story of university co-ops of other countries based on the real experiences of the person was the real pleasure of this workshop.
First day of visit. We had a lively exchange of views.
After the opening ceremony on the second day, the whole agenda of workshop began. After having lunch together in the dining hall of Kyung Hee University, we visited Kyung Hee University Co-op. After that, we visited Kookmin University Co-op, which ended our second day. On the third day, we had group discussion on “The Role of University Co-ops in Creating A Healthy College Life and A Healthy Community” in Dongguk University. After the discussion, we visited a local co-op.
We had a lot of opportunities to think from a new perspective since we could compare initiatives done by Japanese university co-ops and those of Korean university co-ops. For example, how the products are displayed in co-op store or the layout of cafeteria—these things were regarded as usual before we left Japan. But after seeing Korean university co-ops, now we could see co-op stores and cafeterias in Japan differently. Of course, it is natural that the difference is caused by the different country, system and scale, but what is important is to think about the reasoning behind them.
Participants from various countries actively expressed their opinions in the group discussion. We did not consider our national background, but instead, we discussed seriously along the designed theme. I think the exchange of views based on each co-operative background suits the principle of “cooperation.” The visit to local consumer co-op was also exciting since we could understand that we created the co-op ourselves because we need it. I agree with the idea of having discussion until someone is convinced and having deep discussion if opinions differ. A genuine co-op proves its existence when the members discuss together about something they want to do.
Making Korean food at dinner party. We made Jeon and Tteokbokki.
There are a lot of new things we learned through participation in the ICA-AP University/Campus Co-op Committee Workshop. One of them is the power of the students. This workshop was planned and organized mainly by the students of Korean university co-ops. Seeing them worked hard, I felt that Japanese students have to keep up with them. I believe that we can create a better college life on our own.
(Shoichiro Akutagawa, Chugoku-Shikoku Block)