2019 Trust Conference, Faith Turns to Hope
2019 Trust Conference, Faith Turns to Hope
December 3, 2019
For three days from last November 12th to 14th, the 2019 Trust Conference was held near Westminster Abbey in London, UK. The Thomson Reuters Foundation, the corporate foundation of Thomson Reuters the global news and information services company often known as Reuters, is a foundation established to raise awareness onfreedom of the press and human rights issues and to expand inclusive economy.
Especially this year, the Foundation introduced a program called “Changemaker” to the Conference for the first time.The program selects a few number of applicantsthrough a strict screening processand supports them with the cost of attending the conference in part or in full, as well as providing extra opportunities for training and exchange programs. Recognized of her extensive experiences and activities at GongGam, attorneyPark Yae-Ahn,was selected as one of 50 changemakers from over 5,000 applicantsto receive a full support for air fees and accommodations in attending the conference in London.
(Photograph) 2019 Trust Conference — Park Yae-Ahn, center, with the Changemakers
8:00 am, walkingon the streets of London in the early morning on the way to a training program onthe day before the main conference gave me a glimpse ofLondon Eye from a distance. Being famous for its wet weather, itrained several times a day while I stayed in London. While the city was much colder and windier than Seoul, the Queen Elizabeth Center where the conference was held was full of warmth withbright smiles. It was a unique experience to see warm companionship in the eyes of the conference attendees, who were complete strangers to one anotherpersonally.The participantsvoluntarily approached one another introducing their activities and listening to others’ experiences, which made the time before the main session, which is often awkwardly silentand dull in other conferences, very vibrant and exciting.
The Changemakers were from all across the world including Africa, India, Germany, Switzerland,and Kyrgyzstan and the fields in which they worked varied widely from youth’s rights to local community independence movement to agriculture, woman’s rights, to unbiased media. Although the participants had a wide range of background, they shareda genuine, heart-to-heart talk with one another seeking new directions for future activities. Perhaps this was possibledue to the commonality they had in trying to make a positive change in their communities or due to the fact that they were with people who genuinely understood their activities and concerns. This valuable sharing and discussions among the participants made the program all the more worthwhile.
The first day’s training sessions were rewarding and enjoyable. We even shared tips on how to raise fund or how to promote activities more effectively. On the second and third days when the main sessions of the conference were held, we had an opportunity to listen to the first-hand voices of the speakers who were working on site in the fields of the two main themes of the conference: the spread of the inclusive economy and the violation of freedom. In addition, networking time was allocated between sessions so that the participants shared their opinions on the topics discussed in the previous session and learned howhuman rights, which is rather a conceptual notion,are applied in the different parts of the actual world that each of us work in.
Many participants expressed keen interest in GongGam’s activities especially in that the group members are all lawyers, and that the organization is run by citizens’ voluntary grassroots fundraising. When I was introducing GongGam and the field of public interest law in South Korea to other participants, Ifelt proud of our work but at the same time I felt that we need to broaden the scope ofour activities. Above all, I wasreassured that there are a lot of companions who are promoting and protecting human rights and peace around the world, and grateful that there is solidarity built between usthrough an invisible string.
Just like the title of my favorite book WE WILL MEET SOMEDAY, as we said goodbye to return to our lives, putting behind the short but powerful memory of our gatherings, we were smiling because we knew that that we would meet again somewhere, someday on a path to making a better world. Walking back, the fallen leaves stacked on the riverside of Thames no longerseemed like a prelude to a long cold winter but a blanketfor the sproutswaiting to bud in the spring.
Written by Park Yae-Ahn