FROM SEOUL TO SEJONG :
AN ENJOYABLE INTERNSHIP IN SOUTH KOREA
November 2022 marked the end of my internship with the ASCEND (ASEAN Standards and Certification for Experts in Disaster Management) project at the AHA Centre. I completed my internship while studying for a Master’s degree in the Civil Society Leadership program at Ajou University, Suwon, South Korea. It is one of the scholarship programs held by KOICA (Korea International Cooperation Agency) under the 2021 Technical Cooperation Program of the Government of the Republic of Korea. Spending almost two years of studying and simultaneously interning in South Korea has been a valuable opportunity to experience what it feels like to work in Korea.
Interning at the AHA Centre feels like I am coming home. I joined as an ASEAN-ERAT member in 2017 and have been deployed on humanitarian missions by the AHA Centre. I have also been involved in some of the ACE programme activities, as a facilitator during the Red Cross Red Crescent Induction Course, and have been invited to join some of the international events. Therefore, when I saw the internship opportunity with the ASCEND project, I immediately applied for it.
The distance of more than 5,000 km between Jakarta, Indonesia and Suwon, South Korea, has made the internship more interesting. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, having online meetings is no longer a new activity for everyone. I am very much grateful for all the support given to me by the immediate supervisor and other colleagues in the ASCEND program. The working environment is friendly and supportive.
Assisting in the ASCEND Benchmarking Visit to South Korea from 26 to 30 September 2022 was also part of the internship. During the visit, participants from the ASEAN Member States came to Korea to gain in-depth knowledge of how the Republic of Korea responds in emergency situations. We also had the opportunity to learn how the Korea National Fire Agency operates. Again, the visit gave me the opportunity to expand my knowledge during the internship. The field visits were one of the most exciting things, since it gave me the chance to participate in offline activities after Covid-19 restrictions. Visiting places from Sejong to Seoul during the Benchmarking Visit was particularly thrilling, especially places that I may not have been able to visit as a student. For example, visiting the KNFA Fire Academy, Seoul Emergency Operation Center, and many more. Seeing the working places related to emergency response in Korea provided me with insights into how South Korea has transformed from a developing country to a progressive developed country.
Again, this internship has given me a broader perspective on working in an international environment, especially in South Korea. However, I do feel something is still incomplete, since my Korean language skills are still limited. Otherwise, I believe I could have contributed more to this internship. As I mentioned earlier, I have had several experiences working with the AHA Centre in Indonesia and on international missions. This internship has added even more value, and it feels like I was being prepared to return to work again after graduation in January 2023.
“Thank you, AHA Centre, the ASCEND Project, and the ASEAN Korea Cooperation Fund, for this valuable opportunity. I am very much looking forward to having more working opportunities with the AHA Centre.”
Written by: Andreane Tampubolon, ASCEND Intern