MINNEAPOLIS — After two years of Planning and Fundraising, Asian Media Access’ artists and youth have successfully completed the Asian Cultural Exchange Tour in 2014 summer to China and Korea.
The participants have brought back memories, and friendships that will last forever. Throughout the Tour, Asian Media Access (AMA) and Iny Asian Dance Theater (IADT) participated at the top two prestigious Korean International Festivals to perform the YIYUSA dance drama.
Both AMA and IADT participants have been fundraising for this trip since early 2013. They performed to earn extra income, and sought donations from the Hmong Clan gatherings, until finally raised enough money to send a 34 people delegation.
The invitation was to represent the United States at two festivals.
The first was teh 13th GangNeung International Junior Art Festival (IJAF, Korean: 鬼葵措薯羶“喇蕨獎蹴瞪), which is held annually at Gyeongpo Beach in Gangneung. It is considered the biggest international youth festival in South Korea.
The teams performed twice — one performance on the main stage at Gyeongpo Beach, and another at Gangneung Arts Hall. The youth delegation has joined the street parade with all participants through the world (China, Japan, Russia, Ukraine, United States and others, to greet the Korean audiences. The event concluded with a spectacular fireworks show.
In addition, the youth delegation attended several Korean cultural workshops, and visiting temples and museums. They brought their own hand-made Hmong arts works such as the Hmong Paj ntaub (story cloth), as a way to showcase their own heritage.
The second eventg was the 26th Korean International Festival of Theater (KIFT, Korean: 剪璽措薯翱斛薯). The Geochang International Festival of Theatre, which opens every year with topics of nature, man, and drama, can be enjoyed in the beautiful valleys of Susengdae during the day and under the midnight stars at night.
The festival is one of the most successful outdoor theater festivals throughout the world. The AMA and IADT delegation performed a 70 min YIYUSA show under the STARS.
Besides showcasing their artistic talents and representing their culture and their country, this unique opportunity served to help youth to grow appreciation of the global cooperation and diverse cultures.
Originally, AMA was invited to China, then added the Korea, because of youth’s request. They all wanted to go to a place where they haven’t been before and all had their hearts set on Korea.
Some of the participants said it was a life-long dream to go and visit their Korean idols from music and dance to television dramas. It was especially meaningful to travel as an exchange performance as an opportunity to present their own culture in addition to learning about others.
One of the dancers, Mailai, said, “The everyday life in Korea wasn’t what I expected it to be due to the Korean Dramas. We had to walk to every place we want to go. The one thing I enjoy was riding the underground trains. It was a good experience. We had to find our own way around in order to get back to the Motel we were at.”
Another participant, Karen, said, “At the Gangneung Junior Art Festival, I was looking forward to seeing all the other groups with their performances as well. I also really wanted to befriend with them, although it was really difficult at first. None of the other groups really spoke English, and we didn’t speak any of their languages. Then the most unexpected thing happened. At the exchanging gifts party we managed to open our doors to all the other groups, and through dance (It was amazing experiencing it firsthand.) we were able to communicate with the other groups and even befriend them in the end. When the music blasted on, nobody cared what you were saying or what language you spoke. The only thing they heard was the music and the way your body and their bodies moved with it. At that moment, dance was a language of its own, and I discovered that night just how amazing it really was.”
AMA and IADT participants said they feel they have successfully bridged global cultures through the international language of dance drama — which is at the heart of YIYUSA.
Diana, another youth participant, said that besides dance, she thought the exchange experience meant much more to her.
“I would like to become involved with international diplomacy, especially addressing the issues of minorities and human rights in different countries,” Dinana said. “I am extremely interested in modern global history, which still greatly impacts the society today in various states.”
What a perfect summer trip ended with a perfect inspiration for the youth delegation. For more information about the exchange opportunity and youth reflections, please contact Asian Media Access at 612-376-7715 and [email protected]