Under development is a phenomenon that has plagued many colonized nations. Colonization and its attendant oppression and exploitation has inhibited the development of many nations from the 19th to the 21st century. Korea, like many African and South East Asian countries, endured the harshest form of colonization. But today Korea has put to test the old adage “it doesn’t matter where you come from, what matters is where you want to go.” Reeling from the remnants of the Korean War as the world’s poorest country, it has drawn itself from abject poverty to an economic powerhouse boasting world renowned brands such as Samsung, Hyundai, Kia, LG, etc. It is easy to sit and cry over spilt milk but it takes a lot of determination to overcome adversities and chart a new and prosperous path.
The question then begs how did Korea pull itself from poverty to prosperity? This has been attributed to the will of the people, strong leadership, and a highly successful community development model like Saemaul Movement which was indigenously developed and tailored to suit the needs of Korea at that time. This knowledge and expertise is what the PSPS(Park Chung Hee School of Policy and Saemaul) and Yeungnam University seeks to share with the rest of the developing world.
By sourcing sponsorship from several corporate, governmental, and international agencies, PSPS through YU has offered many African students the opportunity to study here and understand the tenets of the Korean development miracle so we can return and contribute to the development of our own countries. It said if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but if you teach him how to fish, he will eat every day. The PSPS program is contributing to the development of our countries in the best possible manner(knowledge transfer). For many years foreign donor agencies have sought to initiate and sustain development through their own strategies which are exogenous to our societies. So the results of such development projects have yielded mixed results. The best alternative is to pick the blue print of the Korean endogenous strategies and adapt them to our local situation. That is the main reason of our coming to PSPS.
Our stay here in YU has not been without some challenges as many a times our encounters with some Korean students have been fraught with misconceptions. This has in some part inhibited the smooth integration between the PSPS students and the general student populace in YU. The PSPS administration and faculty as well as Prof. Choi Oe-chool have continuously sought sponsorship from several organizations to guarantee us a comfortable stay here in Korea and also ensure our integration into the school and Korean society. Through joint programs we have had interactions with some undergrad students and shared our perspectives with them.
I am particularly excited to be part of the select few who passed the rigorous admission process to get into PSPS. What is exemplary about the PSPS program is the fact that theoretical work is interspersed with practical experiences and expertise which lays a good foundation for implementation back in our home countries.
As foreign students, living in Korea has been a gradual transition from amusement laden with confusion to a more settled comprehension of Korean culture. What Korea stands for in the minds of most students in PSPS is resilience, hard work, and tenacity. What we have benefited from PSPS and YU cannot be lost on us and we are sincerely and eternally grateful for this opportunity. PSPS is Korea’s hand reaching out to the world to promote sustainable development. What is needed for the development of our countries is not free disbursement of money but most importantly transfer of knowledge to be able to harness endogenous resources to propel our countries to development.
To PSPS, Yeungnam University, the people of Gyeongsan, and Korea at large who have been extremely hospitable to us, we are eternally grateful for your support and warmth. We hope we shall be greater ambassadors of the Korean people wherever we may find ourselves.