By Jackson Ngari,
Kenya Community in Korea (KCK) held anAnnual General Meeting (AGM) during the Chuseok holiday on Sept. 26, 2015, in Seoul. The meeting was one of the biggest gatherings since the inauguration of KCK in October 2009, where more than 100 Kenyans and friends gathered. The meeting took place at Bethany Church, Cana Hall.
The Kenyan gathering coincided with the Korean Chuseok or “Thanksgiving Holiday” and had a lot of similarities with the purpose of Chuseok. During Chuseok, Korean family members gather from far and wide, even from abroad, to come and celebrate what is traditionally understood as harvest celebrations. KCK members too travelled from far and wide to come and participate in this meeting. KCK officially has five branches including Seoul, Cheonan, Busan(and Ulsan co-opted), Daejeon, Daegu and Gwangju.
Noting that during this holiday many Koreans visit families and journey to their hometown in order to have quality family time. There are many cultural customs that go into celebrating Chuseok, including special food preparation; Kenyans living in Korea similarly gathered together as a family, had joyous moments of special Kenyan delicacies served on the day.
Most Kenyans were made to feel at home when they met fellow countrymen and women internalizing true value for being a Kenyan family abroad. The Senior Pastor of Bethany Church, Rev. Dr. Ju Hwan Kwak who provided the venue for Kenyans’ meeting also gave gift packs for everyone who attended, just as Korean families would do to guests.
The Senior Pastor warmly welcomed the Kenyans and their friends and talked about his experience abroad as a student. He said welcoming the Kenyans to Bethany is a great joy for him and the church as a way of giving back because of many people who supported him when he was a student in America. He explained that he knows what it feels to be away from home.
Throughout the year KCK members have come together for various activities which were reported during the AGM. Some of the previously held events include: Seollal (Lunar New Year) meeting where the current Executive Board was inaugurated, Tujuane Festival where Kenyan had a chance to go for a picnic, the East African Sports day at Seoul National University where more than seven countries within the eastern Africa region participated and the Annual Retreat in Busan which was seen by many as the highlight of the yearly calendar. Other activities that were captured by the executive report were the KCK-Embassy Exhibitions that have taken place since February.
Ambassador Mohamed Gello in Seoul was the guest of honor during the meeting. Dr. Wesley Wentworth of Intervarsity Press Korea was among the invited guests.
In his address, Amb. Gello reminded Kenyans that they are the best ‘ambassadors’ for Kenya. He encouraged them to be good representatives of the Kenya community at personal levels. This he said would make people who do not know Kenya to understand Kenya well form their interactions. He further promised full support for the Kenyans asserting that he will put all efforts to ensure that he attends to as many activities as possible where Kenyans are actively involved.
In his remarks, KCK Chairman Dr. Benson Kamary thanked the members for their active participation in various activities and contributions leading to a very successful term so far. He outlined the constitutional changes that will take place to ensure that KCK regional heads are incorporated in the running of KCK affairs as Governing Council alongside the leaders of Professional and Students wings of KCK. “My philosophy is that of inclusive leadership,” he told the gathering.
After the ambassador’s speech KCK members were given time to interact and give feedback, where various contributions were made and responded to by the ambassador and the chairman.
KCK-Executive Board greatly appreciates, Ambassador Gello and Embassy Staff, KCK members for attending this Annual vital event.Special thanks to the Senior Pastor of Bethany Methodist Church Rev. Dr. Ju Hwan Kwakfor the warm and generous support towards KCK for providing the venue, lunch and a Chuseok gift pack.
About the Author, Jackson Ngari, the Vice Chair of KCK-Executive Board is a Ph.D. student at Torch Trinity Graduate University, Seoul Korea.
You can reach Jackson on firstname.lastname@example.org