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FEATURE: Life of an intern at the AFoCO RETC in Myanmar

05 Feb 2020

Cho Hyunmin (Kangwon National University) and Park Jinsu (Kyungpook National University) from the Republic of Korea share about their six-month stint at the AFoCO RETC

Tell us about your internship experience!

“Our main duties include preparing and facilitating training courses and managing the center’s facilities. In addition to regular courses targeted at forestry officials of AFoCO Member Countries and courses for students and members of local communities, we also got the chance to be involved in special events such as visits by representatives of forestry ministries. Because the climate and environmental conditions in Myanmar vastly differs from that of Korea, many parts of the building require regular maintenance and inspections. We also managed the RETC Library and translated the comic-based textbooks published by AFoCO!”
– Park Jinsu


Jinsu posing with local people at the community livelihood development course on bamboo craft-making

“We organize training courses held in RETC in close cooperation with the RETC staff. The center offers various types of training courses not only for international participants but also for local people in Myanmar. The more people I met, the more I felt embarrassed because they have a true passion for improving the forests in their countries. However, this encouraged me to think about how I can contribute to Korea’s forestry sector in the future. “
– Cho Hyunmin


Hyunmin bringing participants of a training course on a tour of the RETC

What do you remember most about your internship?

“The most precious memories that I have are of my friends there. It was hardly possible for us to be able to adapt to the new living environment in Myanmar without any help. Thankfully, the people at the RETC shared many needed materials with us – usually, food and snacks to keep us energized! Also, it was really fun having conversations with the staff and training participants and sharing about our different cultures. When it comes to meeting local people, since I can’t speak Burmese and they don’t speak English, we communicated through gestures and sounds. Communicating in this way was really fresh and overwhelming to me.”
– Cho Hyunmin

“My internship was a valuable experience because of the many other activities we engaged in during our free time. During the week, we mostly interacted with the RETC staff and learned about one another’s cultures and languages. Learning about Myanmar culture and Burmese was a very refreshing and unforgettable experience. Every weekend, Hyunmin and I also visited a nearby orphanage to teach Korean and spend time with the children there.”
– Park Jinsu

Hyunmin and Jinsu interacting with children at a nearby orphanage

How has the internship influenced or changed you?

“This was the first time I had stayed overseas for an extended period of time and everything felt very new. Living in Myanmar for six months made me realize many things. People in Myanmar generally lead carefree lives without worrying excessively about the future. Watching them, I was reminded to enjoy today and forget the competitive mindset that I had when living in Korea.”
– Park Jinsu

Any last words?

“Life in Myanmar wasn’t easy but during my internship, I got to experience much more than I had imagined. Here goes my advice to the next batch of RETC interns: Try not to focus on the difficulties you encounter along the way. Instead, open your eyes to what you can do, and meet and interact more with the people around you!”
– Park Jinsu

“If I could go back to the time when I was in Myanmar, I want to challenge myself by meeting more people and visiting other places in Myanmar. Thank you RETC and Myanmar! I miss you!”
– Cho Hyunmin

This six-month internship program was supported by the Korea Forestry Promotion Institute (Kofpi).

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