May 29, 2013 by rkpcs
The team woke up today to the final day of the exchange, and what a busy final day we have had.
The team were first of all taken to Suncheon bay for a walk through the wetlands. The area is known as Suncheon bay ecological park, and it is protected natural area consisting of 21.6 square km of wetlands and 5.4 square km of reed beds. This area is a major tourist attraction for the area, and the efforts to capitalise upon that industry were apparent with many improvements being made to the facilities during the last few months, and boat and train rides available for tourists to explore the wetlands. We chose to do so on foot along a route which took us to an observatory platform overlooking the entirety of the mudflats, reed beds, and bay.
During our walk we learned about the purification effect that reed beds have on water, saw the many different species of wildlife which were within the the mudflats en mass, including mud hoppers and a huge variety of crabs, and were told about the migratory habits of birds in the area. The landscape was unusual given the circular shapes of the reed beds. We were far too early for seeing any sunset which we were told was also not to be missed, but it was a spectacular sight nevertheless.
Next the team visited Suncheon’s local hospital, Pyunghwa hospital, which specialises in the treatment and rehabilitation of those suffering from strokes, cerebral palsy and brain development impairments. Lucy’s homestay host, Dr Park, works at the hospital and met the team to provide a brief tour of the facilities. The team were interested to learn about the decreasing age of those commonly suffering from strokes in South Korea. Dr Park explained that there were multiple causes for this new trend, including diet, stress and smoking, and took the time to discuss with the team the steps which are being taken nationally to address these issues including intervention in the education system to ensure that children are aware of the dangers.
After stopping for lunch, we were greeted by members of the Gurye rotary club with whom we were spending the afternoon. The team were extremely interested to learn of a particular project being pursued by the Gurye rotary club currently, in which the rotarians are working with other clubs to build houses for underprivileged families. An impressive total of 40 houses were built last year by the club, and this was achieved by Rotarians either donating financially or providing skills and labour to assist in building the houses free of charge.
The Gurye rotary club certainly did not disappoint in the afternoon schedule that they had arranged. First of all, we were taken to the agricultural techonology centre, where we met the director of the centre, Mr Park. The centre has a number of functions, but its primary purpose is to promote the safe production of food. The centre provides a range of courses on food production, teaching students how to produce each food type in a safe, eco-friendly, effective and efficient manner. The centre has been open since 1997 and is one of 154 similar facilities across South Korea, although the produce taught in each one differs depending upon the environment of the area covered by the centre. The courses provided by the centre are free to attend, financed by local government. Students range from professional farmers to individuals who wish to learn how to make particular types of food or drink for their own consumption.
The team were then taken into one of the facilities of the centre, a pressed flower exhibition. This is the only exhibition of its kind in the world, and whilst the team may have been dubious as to what this exhibition was going to consist of, those uncertainties were soon blown away. The exhibition consists of a large number of pictures which are made entirely of dried flowers. At first glance, each picture looks like a standard painting and only on closer inspection can each individual petal be seen which make up the picture as a whole. The time and patience which must have gone into each piece was clear to see and the team spent some time marvelling at these incredible pieces of art.
To round off the afternoon, the team were taken to Saseongam temple which is located 500 metres up Osan mountain. After a steep and somewhat hairy drive to its site, the team very much enjoyed exploring this isolated temple which is set into the side of a cliff. Given its location, very few people were at the temple other than those there to offer prayers and a feeling of calm pervaded the grounds with only the sounds being those of rhythmic chanting and birdsong.
After dinner with our Gurye hosts, the team returned to Suncheon to attend a farewell party kindly organised by Arnold, Sally’s homestay host. The team had a lovely night with a group of rotarians whom we have been so warmly welcomed by since our arrival on Saturday and of whom we have become very fond. Each team member was asked to give a short presentation on their thoughts on their trip and what they had learned, which sparked some lively, good natured debate. A wonderful night, with laughter aplenty, was enjoyed by all.
As promised, attached are some of the “official photos” from the recent photoshoot!
The team are now packed up and ready for the final move of the exchange – our departure from the wonderful district of Jeollanam-do tomorrow morning. We will be back to update you from Seoul.