Haja Center (English&Japanese Blog)

Meeting with Simon Tucker, the Chief Executive of the Young Foundation


Meeting with Simon Tucker, the Chief Executive of the Young Foundation


Hye Sun, Nam(International Liaison&Strategic Partenrship Team)

(Translated by) Hayan, Jeon


Simon Tucker, the chief executive of the Young Foundation, visited the Haja Center at 10 am on February 15th. He came to Korea at the invitation of the Hope Institute, a civic research institute, and he visited the center despite his busy schedule. He had chance to understand overall projects that the center had done through the tour and had discussion with staff working in the center, those who were working for social enterprises, and youths in the center.

During the meeting held for one hour, Simon Tucker introduced education projects and projects to nurture social enterprises that the Young Foundation had carried out, shared his experience with participants, and talked about his ideas of how to cooperate with relevant organizations including the Haja Center in Korea. The meeting was good for the Haja Center and the Young Foundation to raise their understanding of each other by sharing information of education projects that the center had worked on so far, Korean situation related to nurturing social enterprises, and background and experience of social innovation in Korea.

The Young Foundation has implemented cooperative projects with diverse organizations in Asia for recent several years. To the question asking what kinds of projects he wants to do in Asia, Simon Tucker answered that he wanted to start research and an international youth program. He showed his willingness to overcome difficulties by trusting each other and consistently communicating with each other even though there would be considerable difficulties while cooperating with other organizations since the organizations have grown in a socially and culturally different environment.

Simon Tucker who has been leading the Studio School project, an example of educational innovation in the UK, and has undertaken projects to foster social enterprises in education and the medical sector for a long time asked what the biggest challenge that social entrepreneurs and working-level employees in Korea felt was. Then, Choong-han Lee, a co-president of Yooja Salon, a social enterprise, answered that there were lack of understanding of ‘sociality’ in Korean society and many people viewed it in terms of ideology or politics; there were no specific models as good company and role models for great entrepreneurial leadership since Korea experienced large-conglomerate-oriented growth; there were not enough role models for social enterprises creating profits because it was the time when social enterprises should achieve good results as for-profit businesses and grow as leaders of social contribution.

The reality that youths in Korea and the UK faced was shared and what kinds of efforts organizations working in social innovation areas and social enterprises made to resolve the problems that the youths had were mainly discussed because the Haja Center has experimented many creative and alternative things in terms of youth education for a long period of time.

Simon Tucker said that youths in the UK were generally creative but they also focused only on themselves, which might be because British society was based on individualism. Also, the youth tend to be so ‘idealistic’ so they do not want to do anything and just show rejection towards working for some companies or organizations. Therefore, it is remarkable that the youth want to create businesses rather than working for some companies. The number of organizations supporting them to create businesses is also increasing. This tendency drew participants’ attention because it was different from Korea where the government promoted business creation through policies by considering creating businesses as one solution for youth unemployment.

The Young Foundation carries out diverse projects such as Uprising, Resilience, and Studio School, targeting youths. Uprising and Resilience help underprivileged youths to meet mentor groups of experts in diverse areas so that they can express their opinions in their communities with positive thinking not by focusing only on their own issues. The youth are highly satisfied with the projects. Also, he revealed that the youths participating in the projects were elected as members of city or county councils or became directors of local communities.

He introduced that Studio School, a project for educational innovation, focused on practical education making the best of regional characteristics and educating what can be used in fields while maintaining characteristics of institutional education. Even though the school is part of the institutional education system, it educates youths for whom learning effects can be enhanced through non-cognitive learning and practices rather than cognitive learning. Therefore, it was designed to have such an atmosphere like company, workplaces, or offices in a physical environment totally different from general schools. In this school, youths cooperate with various partners including diverse local organizations and business groups in the process of identifying local issues and resolving the issues through projects. In addition, the companies which youths cooperate with pay higher wages to the youths than the minimum wage because they ask the youths to do works which can help them grow further.   

Simon Tucker highlighted that he always considered clear analysis on what kinds of influence that the project results exert in society important while leading youth-related projects. Accordingly, researchers analyzed influence of Studio School and they gained results that cognitive learning ability of students who experience non-cognitive learning focusing on practices was improved.

Regarding Studio School, Hee-ok Kim (hiiocks), the president of the Haja Production School, expressed her opinion that it might not be easy to found a school focusing on practicality in a local area since Koreans had different attitudes and perception towards local areas from the UK.

Simon Tucker also asked the reason why the Haja Center could exist as a creative space for the youth for a long time. Then, (Han) Hae-joang Cho, a professor at the Department of Cultural Anthropology, Yonsei University, answered that Haja Center can have creativity because it was born in crisis. For reasons, she also added that the center had to show that problems which should be resolved could not be resolved by existing methods at that time and the center was a space of caring and feminism which could not be seen in Korean culture of the time.

Although it was a short discussion held for an hour, it was a great opportunity for participants to understand situation of the youth in Korea and the UK and share specific works that each organization was doing to overcome the current situation and what they could learn from each other. This discussion will be a starting point for the Haja Center and the Young Foundation to closely cooperate with each other in the future.

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