[Review] Tuesdays with the Human Asia
Down came the rain on the last Tuesday of April. In General Assembly of the Asia Center for Human Rights last month, I was informed of the monthly ‘Tuesdays with the ACHR’ and had marked the date on my calendar weeks before. I was planning to go lightheartedly, but the cloudy weather started to bother me and I troubled myself over whether to go or not. In the end, I picked up my umbrella and headed to the Graduate School of International Studies at Korea University. My eyes immediately caught sight of two program officers in splendid Bangladesh costume when I entered the room. I was glad I had come.
Although I had learned about refugees during the ACHR’s volunteer education session, Asia Human Rights Forum and Workshop for Young Human Rights Activists, the impression was vivid as I listened to real stories happening at the actual site.
Frankly, when I first heard from Ms. Jooyea Lee(program officer) that they were going to visit Bangladesh, I vaguely imagined that after initial introduction of “Hi, we are from Asia Center for Human Rights,” every schedule of field trip would be in full swing without a hitch, ending with taking a photo that would decorate ACHR’s pamphlet.
Yet I was taken aback when I heard that they could not draw up a precise itinerary before departure and that they had to plan daily schedule depending on the situation. As I listened to how they had visited a refugee shelter normally inaccessible through a friend’s help, I wondered the reason why they had taken such risk for their field trip. I also contemplated on questions the program officers posed to us. Who should act towards solving this refugee issues? Should the international society take action because poor Bangladesh is incapable? What role do civil organizations have?
The program officers’ field trip to Bangladesh may not seem very helpful in solving refugees’ problems. I recall the words of Benjamin Yoon Hyun, the Founder & Chairperson of the ACHR, which Ms. Ahreum Kim had quoted. The wheel of history slowly turns but continually, because someone is there to turn it. Seeing the program officers cheerfully end the presentation and accept an interview request without showing a slight sign of tiredness (they had arrived a day before from Bangladesh), I said to myself, ‘They are the ones turning the wheel! Now I will try to turn the wheel together!’
Eun Lee, Former volunteer of Human Asia, Yonsei University
Translated by Minju Yang
Edited by Jeonglim Kim