From September 26 to October 1, women leaders from Korea, Philippines and Japan participated in a Global Women Leadership Exchange in Korea. From cultural exchange to site visits of the Demilitarized Zone that divides Korea and service projects with North Korean defectors, the women formed bonds that crossed their cultural and national differences, and affirmed their shared concern as mothers and daughters, for their larger human family.
Below is a reflection from Filipina delegate Nikki Jimeno.
There is this card that I always carry around in my wallet, and it has a quote from Martin Luther King Jr., which says:
“Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve…. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
I carry this card with me everywhere I go because I find it so inspiring, and it reminds me that love and service for others is what make people great. And during these past few days, I have been reminded even more of that.
During this week’s Global Peace Women Leadership Exchange, I have had the honor and the pleasure to have spent my days with you amazing group of ladies (and a few gentlemen). When I was preparing for this trip, I knew that I would be traveling with my mother and sister, who are both here with me now. But what I did not expect was that, in the process, I would gain so many other mothers and sisters from the Philippines, Korea, and Japan.
Because I am younger than most of my companions, I have had the unique experience of being doted on and cared for by them. I have received advice about which shampoo to use for my thinning hair, how to lose weight, how to avoid migraines, how to climb up a steep incline, how to carry myself with confidence and elegance, and so much more. In short, I was immediately treated as a daughter and sister by these women, most of whom I had just met. And that to me, is extraordinary. From my fellow Filipinas, I observed and learned what it means to care for others, and for that, I would like to thank them with all my heart. As for our Korean and Japanese sisters, you have demonstrated kindness and hospitality, while the North Korean defectors also showed us what can be achieved with determination, bravery, and perseverance. It was an honor getting to know you ladies.
Dr. Nona Ricafort, or “Tita (Aunt) Nona”, as most of us call her, has served as a symbol of strength, discipline, and compassion for all of us. She is a true example of a nurturing and caring leader, who encourages us to do better in all things. Tita Nona’s tireless efforts in bringing women’s rights and values to the forefront through the GPW’s activities have made a profound difference in countless lives.
Next, from Mr. Inteck Seo, President of GPF Korea, we were reminded that we Filipinos have always been ready to serve other countries, even if it is sometimes at the risk of our own lives. You have helped us remember that Filipinos are capable of great things. We look forward to working with you in achieving the dream of “One Korea”, and in the process, achieving global peace.
You have helped us remember that Filipinos are capable of great things. We look forward to working with you in achieving the dream of “One Korea”, and in the process, achieving global peace.
Secretary General Soonok Kang and Madame Mihwa Kim, you have inspired us not only with your intelligence and beauty, but also with your gracious spirit. From the moment that you both welcomed our group at 5:30 in the morning at the airport last Monday, you have not ceased to amaze us with all that you do. Thank you also for reminding us that women have a place in nation-building, whether it’s in the business setting, in the local government, and most importantly, in the home. You have taught us that there are no limits to what women can do, and that we should use our strengths as women to promote peace, beginning with our children.
I’ve been a lawyer for six years, and a mother for one year. It took me 9 years to become a lawyer, and only 9 months to become a mother. But being a mother is more challenging, and it has taught me so much more than studying any subject ever has. As a lawyer, I am trained to argue, to defend, and to fight. Over the years, I have become hard and tough. But when I became a mother, all rules flew out the window. I learned to become more nurturing, patient, and understanding. Slowly, being a mother softened me again. And you know what? What I learned as a mother eventually made me a better lawyer. I realized that showing empathy and sincerity towards not only my own client, but also towards my opponent, led to faster and more peaceful resolutions of cases.
Visiting the DMZ yesterday, and learning about the sad history of Korea that led to the division between North and South Korea, has made me realize that perhaps the world needs more of a woman’s touch in order to achieve peace. As women, we can teach men that not every conflict can be resolved through force, and that not every fight can be won with violence. As beautifully demonstrated by the movie Jun-Ai, if we use love and understanding in dealing with hate, barriers are broken down, and peace can be achieved.
“Perhaps the world needs more of a woman’s touch in order to achieve peace.”
That is why I believe that the “One Korea Global Campaign” will be successful. It does not make use of weapons; rather, it aims to bring peace and unification to Korea through friendship and music. We, as women–as mother, sisters, and daughters–can likewise help bring about the peace that our world desperately seeks by showing love for our families first. It has been said that by changing ourselves, we can change our family. Our families can change the community, and the community can change a nation. Ultimately, this one nation can change the world. It all begins with each of us.
With organizations like the GPF and the GPW working towards peace, I am optimistic not only about my future, but also about my daughter’s future in this world. And someday, I hope that I can pass on to her the wisdom and kindness that has been passed on to me by the amazing women in this group.