Haja Center (English&Japanese Blog)

Focus on Social Self-Reliance of The Young on Irregular Track


Focus on Social Self-Reliance of The Young on Irregular Track


written by Park, Jin-suk(SikSikee, representative of Picnic Cat Inc.) 

translated by Amy Kyoungmi Yoo


At 4 pm on Wednesday, May 9th, ‘Education Forum 3_Talk about Social Self-Reliance of The Young on Irregular Track’ was held in HaHaHeoHeo Hall on the 4th floor of Haja Center new building. This forum was an opportunity to discuss why support for the young who choose different ways instead of the most common option, such as entering into and graduating from university and starting working in a company, is necessary and how to provide that support. For this goal, there were 4 case presentations during the session.

The first presentation was about ‘手(Su), Dabang’, a handcraft workshop, by the team manager of Nowon Support for Self-Reliance of Young, Yeo Kwang-cheon. Nowon district was known for many low-income families living in rental apartments but now there are more average people than low-income families in the area. Therefore, the regional office for self-reliance of the young, which has been seeking for self-support and self-reliance of the young in the low-income families for 10 years, becomes more concerned about the future of the young who grow up in the area. That is where the handcraft workshop ‘手(Su), Dabang’ started. It has been only two years but the members are making handcraft works there as well as working as an instructor teaching others. Through cooperation with the office of education, the workshop created Handcraft Instructor Certificate course and introduced a completion certificate, which paves the way for new possibilities.

The second case was presented by Han Yeong-mi, co-representative of social enterprise Organization Cooking, about ‘Requisite for Work and Learning of the Young’. In the celebrity chef-centered food service industry, it would have been almost impossible to become a chef without taking regular chef training courses, if there is no ‘Fifteen’, a restaurant of British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. The ‘Fifteen’ was also the inspiration for ‘Young Chef’, kind of chef school for the young. However, it was not easy at all to make the plan to reality. After operating the ‘Young Chef’ for three years so far, she emphasized that the requisite for work and learning for the young is ‘community’ and also said young people need community with tolerance and generosity where they feel relieved. “Because community never gives up people”, she added.

The third story was about ‘Mutual Circulation of Education’ by Park, Jin-suk, the representative of Picnic Cat Inc. Based on the experience for the last two years of ‘Alchemist Project’, which was supported by Beautiful Fund Foundation, at Haja Center, she spoke of what kind of education system and environment are necessary f or the young who are preparing for the transition into adult. She explained that the reason for choosing ‘starting own business’ as an education field for young people was to recover their ‘life’. By becoming members of regional community and running the business for their living, they experience how to handle the most critical issues of life, work and earning their living, and as a result, they learn how to make a living and ultimately how to plan for the future. Now the business becomes a corporation led by young directors. However, she said they have a long way to go to reach the finish line. Further development of them is expected.

The last, but not least, presentation was by Woo, So-yeon, general manager of ‘Alchemist Project’, about ‘Complementary Businesses of the Young Helping Each Other’. While working in ‘Sweet Elephant’, a cupcake shop, young people understand each other and learn from each other. They said that played as stepping-stone between school and work. Four times a week, they bake cupcakes and every morning, they put frosting on them. They clean the coffee machine and clear up the shop to receive customers, hold ‘Candle Night Concert’ every month, meet others and share their knowledge with them. She vividly described how these activities are linked with work and study of the young people..

After all case presentations, discussion on how to develop those cases into a deeper level and how to make those sustainable was followed. Park Bok-seon, the principal of Seongmisan School, raised a question on ‘level and degree of self-reliance’. She also added that the basic assumption should be ‘live simply and honestly’ and to do so, the young shall learn necessary skills to practice within the community and form mutually-beneficiary network.

In addition, Ahn Seon-yeong, an assistant researcher of Institute of Policies for the Young, mentioned difficulties in self-reliance are common problems for both regular and irregular tracks, emphasizing the importance of this forum. She also advised that in order to reflect the field experiences into policies, it is necessary to think of the format and strategy on how to deliver the experience and opinion more efficiently. During the open discussion, various participants (students, experts, activists, teachers, business people related to young people) shared their short but valuable opinions.

The focus of this forum was not on exchanging questions and ideas on the subject, but rather on sharing the various and vivid experiences to find answers and thus paying more attention to ‘reality’ of social self-reliance and changeover to adult of the young people. As always, it is our share of work to make ‘next’(like next step, next question or next gathering). I hope this forum to be a small start for more questions, different views and potential changes.

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