The sight of a 120-strong delegation of Korean leaders enjoying local activities, such as playing congkak, eating durian and making ketupat, represents more than just a happy cultural exchange. The cultural program, held on July 8 in Seremban, the capital of the Malaysian state of Negeri Sembilan, is part of a larger social vision to see the global community rise above differences and blend together as one human family.
A lively and colorful welcome party comprising a kompang group, a lion dance ensemble, and Indian trumpeters and drummers, kicked off a memorable evening of warm Malaysian hospitality by the Taman College Heights community. The visit by the Korean delegation was part of a three-day Global Peace Leadership Exchange‟ (GPLE) program, the third such exchange program hosted in Malaysia.
Among the respected delegates were government officials, social activists, academicians, and corporate and community leaders who were interested to learn how Malaysia’s spirit of “unity in diversity” could be a model for peace. This leadership education program offered participants an opportunity to broaden their perspectives and build networks, while providing a forum to share experiences in peace-building.
“In the past four months, three delegations of more than 200 leaders from Korea have visited Malaysia under the banner of GPLE”, said Tan Sri Datin Paduka Seri Hjh Zaleha Ismail, Chairman of GPF Malaysia. “Through our continuous efforts, we aim to foster greater inter-cultural and inter-religious understanding and cooperation.”
The third GPLE was jointly organized by GPF Malaysia, GPF Korea, and the Department of National Unity and Integration from the Office of the Prime Minister. The enthusiastic response by delegates of the previous two GPLE programs prompted this third and larger-scaled visit.
“We chose to come to Malaysia due to its unique multi-cultural and multi-racial profile,” said Mr David Yoo, President GPF Korea. “We believe there are many best practices here worth learning which can inspire our social development efforts.”
During the community visit in Seremban, the Korean delegation planted two trees (a coconut tree and mangosteen tree) and one flower plant (hibiscus) in the Taman College Heights vicinity, to symbolize the growing friendship between the two nations.
As part of the GPLE program, a dinner banquet was held Thursday night, attended by guest of honor Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, minister in the Office of the Prime Minister. All the guests observed a Malaysia-Korea Friendship Exchange ceremony signed by Tan Sri Dr Koh and the Hon. Congresswoman Dr. Young Sun Song from Korea, a member of GPF’s Global Leadership Council.
“For over 5,000 years, Korea has been focused on purity, exclusiveness and “oneness,” Congresswoman Song said. “But recently we have been tremendously challenged by different cultures, ethnic backgrounds and values. Malaysia is the best country to help Korea learn how people can peacefully co-exist despite their diversity.”
During the same night, GPF Korea launched the program Power of 1,000 Won. Inspired by the Malaysian donation campaign Power of 10 Sen, the idea was adopted by the Koreans with the objective of raising funds for starving children in North Korea.
“We are very pleased that GPF Malaysia’s educational program has been recognized and adopted by other countries,” said Tan Sri Zaleha. “We have collaborated with Indonesia and Mongolia on the concept and we shall be assisting our Korean counterpart with the Power of 1,000 Won.
GPF Malaysia is an affiliate of U.S.-based Global Peace Foundation, an international peace movement that believes the power of one human family can ease conflict in the world. In addition to the Global Peace Leadership Exchange, other initiatives include educational programs, community service activities, youth workshops, engaging volunteers and building multi-sector partnerships.