Abhi Suresh '24 Attends the Summer 2021 Virtual Korea-America Student Conference
A number of Bryn Mawr College students applied for and received funding to conduct research projects and study with a global concentration this spring/summer through the Global Bryn Mawr Student Fellowship. Those students were asked to share their experiences and how they were affected by the COVID-19 situation through words and images.
Name: Abhi Suresh
Class Year: 2024
Major: Mathematics (intended)
Program: Korea-American Student Conference
Location: Online via Zoom (due to COVID-19)
Q. What did you do at the conference?
A. This conference took place over two weeks, and we met on Zoom for four hours every day for five days of each week. Each conference day had different activities planned and the wide variety of them also helped to keep focus and interest throughout the whole conference. The whole conference was student-planned and led. The delegates (myself included) were able to listen to some phenomenal speakers, and we also participated in our roundtable groups, which are specific areas where we hold discussion and utilize a medium of our choice to create a final project. The four roundtable group topics are: Education, Pandemic and Public Health, Social Justice and Civil Society, and Soft Power and Hard Power. I am in the Education roundtable, where my team is still working diligently on our final project!
Q. What effect did COVID-19 have on your experience?
A. Normally, in a non-COVID-19 restricted year, this conference would take place in person at a location in South Korea and the U.S., respectively. In addition to the speakers and intellectual portions of the conference, this would also include sightseeing, trying new foods, and experiencing a new culture first-hand. Due to the conference taking place in a virtual format, we will be presenting our final roundtable projects at the end of this year. Since this year’s KASC theme is "People to People: Building our Present and Future through Intercultural Lenses," there was an emphasis on cultural exchange and cross-cultural dialogue, be it socially, politically, or economically. I absolutely loved hearing different perspectives from the South Korean and other American delegates, and it furthered my mindset in terms of global awareness and cultural/social sensitivity. Zoom can be a really difficult environment to not only navigate, but to also create a comfortable space where everyone feels welcome, and I really applaud the KASC 14 executive committee for creating a space the delegates could converse, ask questions, and thrive in.
Q. What was your favorite part of this experience?
A. Some of my favorite moments of the conference can be traced to our speakers. I can truly say that until KASC, I have never been able to experience such a multitude of informative, well-spoken scholars and hear them talk about their work. On day three, the delegates all heard Dr. Chung Min Lee, a senior fellow in the Asia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, speak about South Korea’s development as a soft power, how this compares to other countries in relation, and the general overall history and growth of Asia compared to the U.S. in terms of soft and hard power. Another exceptional speaker was Jennifer Lee, a senior associate at The Asia Group. Her role is multifaceted, connected, and interdisciplinary. I never knew you could work at the conjunction of international relations, politics, economics, and finance!
Q. Would you recommend students participate in this event in the future?
A. Yes. Personally, my conference experience was amazing! I truly felt like I got to know the other delegates in a close way that might not have even been possible in-person. It’s really interesting to think about, I know, but from our small-group discussions after lectures to taking friendship quizzes with my KASC buddy (a randomly assigned buddy usually from the other delegation), I fondly look back on this experience as something I’ll never forget.