Introducing the Gyeongnam Migrant Community Center!
People who come to Korea as tourists are foreigners, but those who settle and live in Korea are called immigrants. How do you look at immigrants in your community? Do you see them as strangers, instead of neighbors? Let me introduce you to the Gyeongnam Migrant Community Center, a non-profit civil rights organization founded in May 1998 to protect the rights of immigrants. When the center first opened it was common to treat immigrants poorly. Immigrant workers were even called ‘modern slaves’. However, in 2019, with more than 2.3 million immigrants, this center has expanded its range of services to be well-adapted to Korean society, including human rights counseling, child labor issues, and women's employment, so that foreigners can live better lives as a part of Korean society. The English Campus journal of CWNU met with Sung-Jin Kang (head of the Counseling Department) and Sung-Hoo Hong (Team Leader of the Counseling Team) to learn more about the Gyeongnam Migrant Community Center
What does the Gyeongnam Migrant Community Center support?
1. Basic Human Rights
Counseling includes immigrant grievances such as delayed wages, workplace changes, assault, industrial accidents, traffic accidents, multicultural family conflicts, and racism. (Consultation Hours: Mon-Fri 09:00-18:00, Sun 13:00-18:00). Some immigrants are staying in Korea legally, but many of them are in the blind spots of the law. Our organization is paying more attention to the rights of these immigrants. So the 3rd floor of the center is the Gyeongnam Migrant Counseling Office. We counsel immigrants in this office, and have seven immigrant secretaries who have lived in Korea for more than 10 years.
2. Educational Services
Offering educational services is a way to protect human rights. We provide Korean language education, occupational safety education, and valuable reintegration education to immigrants. The English and Korean language schools are divided into beginner, intermediate and advanced classes. There are four classes per week. In addition, we have a class which focuses on how to improve immigration policy. Also, the 1st floor of the building has the Changwon Multicultural Children’s Library.
3. Medical and Cultural Welfare
Shelter is offered on the 6th floor, and medical, beauty and haircut services are provided on the 4th floor of the immigrant center. Services are provided at Angel Clinic (connected to the affiliated hospital), Dental Clinic (every Sunday 14:00-16:00, associated with Korea Dental), Korea Medical (every Sunday 16:00-18:00, associated with Oriental Medical Clinic), health check-ups (14:00-16:00, every 3rd Sunday of every month), and hair salons (13:00-16:00 every Sunday). Especially in the dental clinic, dentists take turns treating patients, and in serious cases, they continue treatment in a hospital. The 6th floor of the immigrant center is autonomously operating, and is mainly for immigrant workers who have lost their jobs or homes and have no place to go.
4. Solidarity & Cultural Activities
The center supports harmony amongst immigrants from all countries through solidarity activities and events such as New Year's Day, Chuseok, World Labor Day, Summer Camp, and the Cultural Diversity Festival. It also supports national celebrations of the Korean People's Associations on the 5th floor auditorium. On almost every Sunday, Independence Day events are held. On September 8th, Vietnamese national events were held, and many Vietnamese students from Changwon University attended. In particular, the Vietnamese events have a large number of participants and a good sense of unity. In addition, the national day of China was on September 15th, and Uzbekistan Independence Day on the 22nd.
What is MAMF?
One of the representative festivals of our center is the multicultural festival, MAMF. It was held in Seoul until 2008, but started again in Changwon in 2010 because the government cut support to the festival. The name was also changed from ‘The Migrants’ Arirang’ to ‘The Migrants' Arirang Multicultural Festival’. This festival is not just a festival for Changwon, it’s a global festival. It is a big festival with consulates and embassies that attend from around 14 countries. What is different from last year is that Koreans can participate in the festival by joining as a part of the parade. This is not a festival where only foreigners participate. In addition, Myanmar, will be a welcome addition to the festival this year.
In 2018, the event was divided into three areas. In the PLAY area there were four performances of cultural celebrations, a Korean immigrant song festival, an Asian pop music concert, and busking. In the EAT area, people could participate in ‘World Travel from the City’. A multicultural passport was purchased and a souvenir was given when the participants participated in various experiences. Participants could also receive stamps from more than 12 countries. Creative events included making dream catchers (Nepal), making Angkor Wat watches (Cambodia), and making traditional ornaments (China). There were also open markets and street food festivals. In the LOVE area, special performances by the National Art Troupe of the Philippines and the Multicultural Parade were held on the arts stage.
We invite you to the 2019 MAMF!
Immigrants no longer have to be just guests, but live as a part of Korean society. We want to create a cultural environment where both Koreans and immigrants can cooperate together. It is a festival that immigrants and locals actively participate in and make together, so the sweat and hard work of the immigrants stands out in every performance and exhibition. You will already be a part of a multicultural Korea just by participating in the MAMF Festival. This MAMF will be the perfect event for making new friends and experiencing the world. We hope that many international students, as well as Korean students at CWNU, will volunteer to interpret and help in other volunteer positions. E
veryone is always welcome.
|▲ Gyeongnam Migrant Community Center (30 Sahwa-ro 18beon-gil, Uichang-gu, Changwon-si).|
▲ She is a volunteer teaching the Korean language to a British man at the library.
By Lee Yeon-ju, reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
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