Posted August. 18, 2005 03:05,
On August 15 around 9:00 a.m., some Middle Eastern people wearing green hats with the New Community mark were having enthusiastic discussions.
They are 18 civil servants from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Arbil in Iraq, who visited Korea on August 11 to learn about the New Community Movement (Saemaeul Movement), of which the former president Park Jung-hee initiated to modernize Korea`s rural economy. The Zaytun Unit of Korea stationed in Arbil introduced and helped them to come to Korea.
Manager Ahn Cheol-gyun greeted them by saying, "Today is a miracle,", because it was the first day since the education schedule started that all 18 came on time.
There is a so-called "Inshalla" culture in the Middle East. Inshalla means "if Allah wills it," which is frequently used as an excuse for being late or making mistakes, of which forgiveness would be easily given.
Coming from a region with such a culture, most of them were late on the first day of the lecture (on August 12), by about 30 minutes to one hour. On the fourth day, however, everyone showed up on time.
The New Community Movement May Take Root in Arbil-
At 9:10 a.m., Professor Jo Myeong-rae of the Regional Development Department at Dankook University started his lecture with the theme, "The experiences and lessons of Korean economic development."
After some two hours of lecture, questions poured out such as what roles the New Community Movement played in the remarkable development of Korea and what the difficulties and solutions were.
Professor Ismael Muhamad of Salahadin University said, "Korea and KRG have a lot in common, including war and outside power reign. As Korea joined the ranks of the advanced nations through the New Community Movement, we hope that our new community movement can make poverty history and all Kurdish people thrive."
The Kurdish people who boast a population of some 45 million is the biggest nomadic group of people in the world. Without an independent government, the Kurdish are scattered across Iraq, Turkey, and Syria.
At the KRG area in northern Iraq, some four million Kurdish people are living, but they were severely abused until the former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was removed in 2003.
Hussein slaughtered some 180,000 Kurdish with poison gas during 1987 to 1988 when the Kurdish started an independence movement.
We Dream of a 30-story Building-
The lively atmosphere became even more cheerful in the afternoon, as a visit to Namdaemun Market was next on the schedule.
The road to Seoul was seriously congested, but the traffic jam was another attraction to them. They couldn`t take their eyes away from the lined-up cars and high-storied buildings along the expressway.
As soon as they arrived at the market, they started taking photos of the skyscrapers. The highest building in Arbil is 11-stories.
To them, the downtown area of Seoul with a slew of 20 to 30-story buildings was the reason why they should learn about the New Community Movement. During the short shopping excursion, they were overjoyed to buy shirts and ties or accessories.
Rasiwan Salli (21) seemed exhilarated while he was saying, "It feels like I am in heaven. I wish we could have nice buildings like those and beautiful parks in 10 years."
They went back to Arbil on August 17 after seven days of education and trips. They are going to lead reconstruction projects at some 20 war-ridden regions.