Ateneo de Manila University

My name is Erika Zamora and I am currently studying under the program of AB Diplomacy and International Relations at the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City, Philippines. I decided to apply for Asia Hope Camp Organisation’s (ACOPIA) intern position out of a growing interest in the culture and society of Korea as well as a thirst for new learning experiences which I believed the organisation would help me achieve. It was a quite a hasty move for me to make, given that I have never travelled out of my country on my own before, but I welcomed it as I saw it as a challenge to test myself in a new environment as well as a source of new adventures and experiences.

At the start of my internship, I was given the main task of helping in the promotion an upcoming Work Camp to the Filipino youth and most of the duties that have been assigned to be at the office have been quite similar. As interns, we work to promote the organisation and its events and projects in order to help make others aware of the goal ACOPIA wants to achieve: cultural exchange through various activities. There have been times as well where I was tasked to help in creating graphics and appear in videos that would be used in the content of the organisation’s website.

When I had first started out (and even a few weeks prior to my arrival in Seoul), I was filled with anxiety that was partly caused by the question of “How on earth will I survive staying in this country for two months when I know so little of the language and the system by which their people function?” Thankfully, the organisation was helpful in calming my nerves when they reassured me that I would receive assistance in navigating through this country and its society especially in terms of lodging, guidance with Korea’s public transportation systems, and as well as Korean language lessons once a week provided by the staff of the organisation. The organisation’s employees and my fellow interns have welcomed me warmly and have treated me quite kindly which helped lessen my fears.

The organisation also requires its interns to stay at one of the lodging locations that they have provided. Despite knowing that most of my fellow Filipino interns would be staying at the ACOPIA Share House, I chose to stay at one of ACOPIA’s Boarding Houses as I saw it as an opportunity to taste various dishes of the Korean cuisine (as one of the perks of the Boarding Houses was provided meals of breakfast and dinner). The people of the Boarding House are quite hospitable and welcoming to the point that they will try to make friendly conversation with you even if you barely speak Korean (or at least they would ask the others staying at the Boarding House to translate for you or turn to Google Translate).

So far, ACOPIA’s internship program has assisted me in developing my skills of communicating with various organisations and entities in the Philippines, with other members and interns of the organisation, and as well as developing my skills in the creative fields as I was challenge to create graphic images for the ACOPIA website. I have learned to enhance the way I speak and create messages intended for other parties while I tried my best to promote the Work Camp and the Internship Program to the Filipino youth. I have also learned the importance of patience and how to practise the virtue in my intern life as some of the organisations that we had reached out to took their time in deliberating the partnership agreement as well as invitations we had offered before deciding to send us their answers.

At the moment, I am looking forward to more learning experiences with ACOPIA as I know that they would be able to help me in shaping myself into someone who knows more about Korean culture, the culture of the other foreign interns, and who knows more about the systems of NGOs and their activities.