In the News
2017 Mar. 10, KOREA JOONGANG DAILY by PARK SANG-MOON

Ambassador of Egypt to Korea Hany Moawad Selim, front row eighth from left, and his wife, Nehal Selim, front row ninth from left, sit with members of Seoul International Women’s Association at the diplomatic residence in central Seoul on Thursday, after the ambassador introduced various aspects of the culture, history and traditions of Egypt as part of the association’s Cultural Connection program. The participants are holding Egyptian papyrus paintings. [PARK SANG-MOON]

2017 Jan. 19, KOREA JOONGANG DAILY by Esther Chung

Members of the Seoul International Women’s Association (SIWA) listened to students’ frank recounts of what it was like to grow up in Korea with a foreign mother at a gathering on Wednesday as the association launches its Philanthropy Project to fund a multicultural education program this year.

Photo: Members of the Seoul International Women’s Association listen to accounts from multicultural students and multicultural education experts at the Conrad Hotel in Yeouido, western Seoul, on Wednesday. The association launched a project to fund a multicultural education program in Korea this year. [PARK SANG-MOON]

“The first time that I was able to look back on my 20-year struggle growing up as a child in a multicultural family was actually in a public speech I delivered at a multicultural student program in Suwon, Gyeonggi,” said a student at Kyonggi University surnamed Lee, whose mother is from Japan. “It was the first time I shared with my parents my experience of being bullied at school because of my background.

“I realized then that the role of parents in helping their children with multicultural backgrounds is so important,” she added, addressing some 40 members at the talk hosted in the Conrad Hotel in Yeouido, western Seoul.

“I lived in the United States for some seven to eight years until I came to Korea with my dad,” said a high school student surnamed Lee who goes to All Love School, an alternative school for multicultural children. “I knew I was going to be different, but it was okay because I had my father.

“But then he passed away in an accident when I was in elementary school here, and after that, I thought I had no one. Then I went to All Love School, and met lots of different kids and made friends because they were in the same position as I was. I could talk to them and actually feel comfortable. I could be me when I was at the school.”

The Seoul International Women’s Association, comprising more than 400 women from over 45 countries, is seeking to fund a multicultural education program in Korea.

“Our decision to select the multicultural students’ education issue is not only based on data but also because it aligns very well with SIWA’s international and multicultural spirit,” said Anne Choe, president of the international women’s association. “We will be interviewing six programs recognized by the Ministry of Education and then selecting one to fund.”

The project carries a lot of meaning for members of SIWA, many of whom themselves are bringing up children in a multicultural setting.

“I am a marriage immigrant to Korea,” said a member of SIWA from the United States. “I have a 16-month-old son and he often gets pointed at by Koreans who say out loud the word ‘foreigner’ whenever they see him. What can I do to help him face the society here?”

“We certainly are the representatives [for this issue],” said Raheela Nasrullah Khan, wife of the Pakistani Ambassador to Korea Zahid Nasrullah Khan. “We can help the issue gain more traction in the country, when we discuss these matters as the spouses of ambassadors, and take this to our societies and our children, and spread the awareness from our homes and onto the children’s schools and more.”

Experts at the event said multicultural children could be the next harbingers of the country’s development, if only the country can overcome the racial discrimination.

“Some Koreans remain open and friendly toward students from North America or primarily English-speaking countries,” said Lee Hee-yong, head director of All Love School. “But many still discriminate students from less developed countries.”

“The most challenging issue for Korean society is to overcome this discrimination,” said Kim Yeon-kwon, director of the Center for Multicultural Children at Kyonggi University. “According to the Ministry of Education in 2016, there are some 100,000 multicultural students in Korea and two-thirds of them are in elementary school. They may be the next generation of global leaders to bridge Korea with other countries.”

2016 Nov. 15, Korea Joongang Daily by LEE SUNG-EUN

The Seoul International Women’s Association (SIWA) held its annual charity bazaar on Monday at Lotte Hotel Seoul in Jung District, central Seoul, attracting throngs of visitors to peruse aisles of homemade food, antiques, handmade crafts and clothing from around the world.

Hosted by Seoul’s largest international women’s organization, the annual event has raised more than 2 billion won ($1.7 million) since the 1960s, with most proceeds donated to over 20 local charities for the homeless, disabled individuals, senior adults and orphaned children.

This year, over 30 embassies and dozens of other charity groups, domestic companies, women’s clubs and sponsors took part in the 54th SIWA & Diplomatic Community Bazaar.

Nehal Hanna, wife of the Egyptian ambassador and president of the Ambassadors Spouses’ Association in Seoul (ASAS), praised the occasion for offering a “wonderful chance to introduce different countries to the Korean public,” and said the most popular item she sold that day at the Egyptian booth was scarves, which all sold out within hours. Her food corner included Egyptian sweets and falafel.

At the Latvian booth, Rina Okumura-Vaivara, wife of the ambassador of Latvia, which newly opened its Korean embassy this year, said berry jam, honey and linen towels were the best-selling items of the day.

“I was very positively surprised that Korean people showed interest in Latvian products,” said Okumura-Vaivara. “Next time, I’ll make sure to bring more goods.”

Photo: Visitors to the 54th SIWA and Diplomatic Community Bazaar shop for goods at the Nordic booth on Monday at Lotte Hotel Seoul in Jung District, central Seoul. [CHOI JEONG-DONG]

2016 Nov. 08, THE KOREA TIMES by John Redmond

The Seoul International Women’s Association (SIWA) will hold the 2016 SIWA & Diplomatic Community Bazaar at the Lotte Hotel in central Seoul, Nov. 14.The SIWA Bazaar, themed “Share Culture, Share Love, Share Life,” is one of the largest international fundraising events in Seoul, last year seeing cooperation from more than 30 embassies and several women’s clubs, plus local businesses, sponsors, welfare organizations and SIWA volunteers.The event is expected to attract approximately 5,000 visitors, comprising Korean nationals and expats, as well as tourists.

“The event’s convenient timing and the venue’s central location are expected to draw residents and working professionals from all over Seoul,” the event organizer said in a press release. “For foreign tourists visiting Seoul during late autumn, the bazaar will be a perfect stop to experience the culture of Korea as well as that of dozens of countries.”

All proceeds generated by SIWA from the event will be donated to over 20 Korean charities serving orphans, homeless and disabled individuals and senior citizens.

“The annual bazaar brings SIWA, the diplomatic community and other expat organizations in collaboration to raise money to help the many disenfranchised members in our host country,” said SIWA President Anne Choe.

Last year, embassies imported goods from their own countries. Restaurants, charities, local clubs and businesses displayed their food and goods and donated raffle prizes.

Hosted since the 1960s, the SIWA Bazaar has been a cornerstone of Seoul’s rich charitable history and has raised over 2 billion won over the years.

Formed in 1962, SIWA is the largest and longest-running international women’s organization in Korea.

The bazaar will begin with an opening ceremony at 10 a.m. and will close at 3 p.m.

Visit siwapage.com or facebook.com/SIWAkorea for more information.

Photo: Members of the Seoul International Women’s Association (SIWA) pose for a photo at the 2015 SIWA & Diplomatic Community Bazaar at the Lotte Hotel in central Seoul, last November. Courtesy of SIWA.

2016 Nov. 07, KOREA PORTAL by FRAERAINE

The Seoul International Women’s Association (SIWA) will hold its annual charity bazaar this November 14, 2016, at the Lotte Hotel in downtown Seoul. The official announcement that SIWA to raise funds through annual charity bazaar was made on Wednesday, November 2, by the association.

SIWA to raise funds through annual charity bazaar and more than 30 embassies, spouses of ambassadors, private companies, welfare organizations, and other women’s groups are expected to attend the said Diplomatic Community Bazaar. The organization aimed to raise funds to help the many disenfranchised members in the host country, South Korea, said Anne Chloe, SIWA President.

Justesse Gomis, the chairwoman of 2016 SIWA and Diplomatic Community Bazaar, promised guests that attending the event will not only give them the chance to be able to extend a helping hand to a lot of charities. It is also a good place to discover wonderful products both from Korea and abroad.

SIWA to raise funds through annual charity bazaar under the theme “Share Culture, Share Love, Share Life.” More than 5000 visitors, including Koreans, foreign residents, and international tourists, are expected to attend the event. Admission is also free to all.

Guests can also enjoy several musical performances by acts such as the Iced Americano Trio and Camarata Music Company. They can also choose from a wide variety of ethnic cuisines and cultural products from Korea and abroad. Participating restaurants, spas, and other stores are also giving away raffle tickets for lucky guests to win. This made the event not just beneficial but fun and enjoyable, as well.

SIWA to raise funds through annual charity bazaar to help more than 20 Korean charities. This will help orphans, homeless, disabled, and other Korean communities who are in need of financial support. The organization is known to be holding charity bazaars since the 1960s and have already raised an approximate amount of 2 billion won or $1.74 million.

2016 Nov. 02, THE KOREA TIMES by Yi Whan-woo

The Seoul International Women’s Association (SIWA) will run an annual charity bazaar on Nov. 14 at Lotte Hotel in downtown Seoul, the association announced on Wednesday.SIWA, a social club for women from different countries in Korea, said more than 30 embassies, spouses of ambassadors, private companies, welfare organizations and other women’s groups here will participate in the 2016 SIWA and Diplomatic Community Bazaar.”The annual bazaar brings SIWA, the diplomatic community and other expat organizations in collaboration to raise money to help the many disenfranchised members in our host country,” said SIWA President Anne Choe.Justesse Gomis, the chairwoman of the bazaar, speculated that the fundraising event will be “the best place to discover wonderful international products in a good atmosphere, but also a great opportunity to help a lot of charities.”Under the theme “Share Culture, Share Love, Share Life,” the bazaar is expected to draw over 5,000 visitors, including Koreans, foreign residents and international tourists. Admission will be free for visitors.A wide range of ethnic cuisines and cultural products from Korea and abroad will be sold. SIWA will also invite several musical performances by acts such as the Iced Americano Trio and Camarata Music Company.

Visitors can buy raffle tickets with the chance to win prizes offered by restaurants, spas and other stores.

The funds raised will be donated to some 20 Korean charities to help orphans, the homeless, the disabled and others in need in the Korean community.

SIWA began the bazaar in the 1960s. Since then, it has raised more than 2 billion won ($1.74 million).

Established in 1962, SIWA is one of the oldest and largest women’s organizations in Korea.

It has more than 400 members from over 45 countries, including Argentina, Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Mongolia, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Visit siwapage.com/major-events/bazaar or facebook.com/SIWAkorea for more information.

Photo:

- Anne Choe, president of Seoul International Women’s Association (SIWA)

- Justesse Gomis, chairwoman of 2016 SIWA and Diplomatic Community Bazaar
2016 Oct. 24, Korea Joongang Daily by LEE SUNG-EUN

To follow up last year’s “Cooking with Her Excellency” series, in which ambassadors’ spouses introduced readers to the cuisine of their homelands, the Korea JoongAng Daily presents a new series that brings readers into the residences of envoys stationed in Seoul. During each exclusive tour, an ambassador and his or her spouse will be asked to describe the history of their residence and how they made it their own. Each article will offer a glimpse of how a family adjusts to a new country – and makes Korea its second home. -Ed.

Not all ambassadors are satisfied with the low ceilings of Korean houses. When they seem far too low compared to what they had back home, many diplomats decide to remodel their houses. Living in one of the world’s most densely populated cities, air circulation naturally becomes a top priority.
But when Tazegul Mammetalyyeva, wife of the Turkmen ambassador, took her first step into a Korean house, it was none other than the ceiling that instantly made her fall in love.

Coming from a country where the ceilings are twice as high – over four meters (13 feet) – a low ceiling meant she and her husband no longer had to rely on a ladder or doorman to pull off the simplest domestic tasks. “To change the lights, you’d have to risk your life!” she laughs. “Now we can get things done so easily at an arm’s reach.”

Turkmen Ambassador to Korea Myrat Mammetalyyev and his wife Tazegul Mammetalyyeva pose behind a traditional door carpet used as the entrance of a yurt, a traditional round tent where Turkmen nomads live. Nowadays, it’s used as a decoration. [PARK SANG-MOON]

 

 

 

 

Q. Please describe your residence.
A. We arrived in Korea two and a half years ago with our two kids. In our first two years, we lived in a house in Itaewon-dong, central Seoul. We then had to move out in April when our host decided to sell it. We looked through many different styles of houses and ultimately chose to live in the fourth floor of a five-story villa in Hannam-dong, a neighboring area. There are three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a dining room, living room, kitchen and outdoor balcony. Our neighbors include the speaker of the National Assembly and the foreign affairs minister. The embassies of Myanmar, Bulgaria and Italy are also nearby.

Do you host any receptions here?

Aside from the lunch and dinners we’ve held for our Korean friends and colleagues in the diplomatic corps, I’ve also taken part in two projects at the Seoul International Women’s Association, in which the general public was invited for a rich experience of my home country. I was able to introduce Turkmenistan and treat them to a table of authentic Turkmen cuisine, which included samsa (a baked dish with beef and onion filling), pilaf (a dish of rice cooked in seasoned broth) and shashlik (a type of kebab).

What’s your favorite object?

I’m very fond of our Turkmen carpets. There are a total of six in our house. Carpets are the love and pride of all Turkmen people. It’s impossible to imagine any house in Turkmenistan without a carpet. What makes our carpets exceptional are their beauty and durability.

From left: Dolls wearing traditional attire; Objects highlighting Turkmen culture are exhibited in the couple’s living room, including carpets, best known for their beauty and durability. The couple has six carpets in the house.

 

 

What’s so special about Turkmen carpets?

The Turkmen carpet is a key part of our national culture. For centuries, they’ve remained unchanged, and are famous for the peculiarity of their amazing patterns as well as the rich combination of colors – which other nations don’t have. On them are Turkmenistan’s five traditional emblems that also make up the vertical strip on our national flag, which symbolizes the traditional values of our country.

Depending on size, each carpet can take several months or years to make, by a few or many women. Everything is handmade. No machinery. In Turkmenistan, it’s a tradition for mothers to teach their daughters how to make carpets. My mother was taught by my grandmother. Unfortunately, I never had the chance to learn from my mother, though, because I’ve always been far away with my husband. My mother handed down all her tools, so hopefully, I’ll be able to master the skill set one day.

How do Turkmen select a good carpet?

A novice would walk into the shop and look at the front side of a carpet. Professionals would flip it over and see how many knots there are. The more knots, the better quality the carpet is because it means it’s durable. The tightness of Turkmen carpets is another key quality, which goes to prove the hard effort of carpet makers. A square meter is tied by hundreds of knots.

What about the paintings here? Which is your favorite?

There’s an oil painting in our living room that features a bride in a traditional Turkmen wedding. Silver jewelry is draped all over her body, and she’s about to ride a camel across the desert to arrive at her new house, where the groom is. When my husband and I got married, I had 25 kilograms (55 pounds) of silver jewelry on me, and I had to endure all the weight for an entire day! When my daughter gets married, I’ll pass them on to her.

What are some key similarities and differences between a Turkmen and Korean house?

In our apartment back home, our ceiling is 4.2 meters high, way higher than Korea’s usual 2.3 meters. All modern Turkmen homes have high ceilings due to the dry, hot weather. When we first arrived in Korea and stepped inside an ordinary house, we were pleasantly surprised by how low the ceiling was. It seems so easy now to change our lights, because in our Korean house, my husband doesn’t have to climb up a ladder like he did before.

On the other hand, Turkmens are similar to Koreans in that we take off our shoes in the house. Traditionally, like Koreans, we didn’t have beds or tables in the house, so we slept and ate mainly on the floor, on which carpets were laid. Dirty shoes would have caused a lot of sanitary problems if we wore them inside.

Top: Stuffed camel dolls are lined up on a shelf in the living room. Camels are used as the main mode of transportation in Turkmen deserts. Bottom: An oil painting that hangs next to the outdoor balcony depicts a scene from a traditional wedding, in which a bride prepares to ride a camel across the desert to reach her husband.

 

 

 

 

In Turkmenistan, is there any cultural decorum a foreign visitor would have to be aware of?
The tablecloth is considered sacred, so to step on her would be considered a sin. It’s the same for bread and salt. Historically, Turkmens have long lived a nomadic lifestyle because over 70 percent of the land is occupied by deserts. This means food has always been a very crucial aspect in our life.

For some of our readers who are interested in visiting your country, do you have any personal suggestions on where to visit or what to eat?

Every visitor must drop by Kunya-Urgench, a city that contains the ruins of the Achaemenid Empire; Nisa, or the “Parthian Fortresses of Nisa,” one of the first capitals of the Parthian Empire; and the State Historical and Cultural Park “Ancient Merv,” one of the oldest and best-preserved oasis cities along the Silk Road in Central Asia, as well as the capital of the Seljuk Empire. All three places are listed on Unesco’s World Heritage List.

As for our national cuisine, chorek (a national bread) and samsa, both baked in a tamdyr (clay oven), is a must, as well as Turkmen melons, watermelons, figs, grapes and more. Spring and late summer are the perfect time to visit Turkmenistan.

2016 Oct. 25, Groove Korea

Every year as November approaches, the Korean and expatriate community anticipates the day of the SIWA & Diplomatic Community Bazaar. A proud tradition since 1963, the Bazaar brings together embassies from all over the world, Korean charities, local vendors of unique foods and products, diverse entertainers and SIWA volunteers, for the biggest international fundraiser of the year.

This world-class event is organized by SIWA (Seoul International Women’s Association), the largest and longest-running international organization for women in Korea. With members from over 45 countries, including Korea, it has become a place for women to meet, learn from one another, explore Seoul and give back to the community.

 

This year, the Bazaar, in its 54th edition, will feature delicious treats and one-of-a-kind products from over 30 embassies and international clubs.
Shoppers looking for unique gifts for the holidays are sure to find treasures among these items from all over the globe. And their purchases are giving back to the local Korean community; all proceeds from the Bazaar go to the SIWA Welfare Fund supporting a variety of causes, from orphanages and homeless shelters, to the elderly and disabled.
The Bazaar represents the largest fundraiser of the year for SIWA, and has raised over 2 billion Korean won for charity since its founding. Over 20 charities will benefit from the funds raised by this year’s Bazaar. The event kicks off a season of giving that will be followed by SIWA’s charitable gift drive, to provide holiday presents for underprivileged children. It will be followed in the spring by the annual SIWA Gala, which allows SIWA members to celebrate together while raising significant funds for the organization’s designated charities.
2016 Oct. 26, The Korea Herald by Paul Kerry

Seoul International Women’s Association will hold the 2016 SIWA & Diplomatic Community Bazaar next month, providing an opportunity to find high-end craftwork or do some early Christmas shopping while raising money for charity.

The event, which the association has run since the 1960s, invites charities, embassies and other sellers and organizations to sell goods there, with money raised going to charity.

“It’s going to be a very special mix of a few new embassies who have not been with us before and returning ones as well. And we will be having entertainment throughout the day that is always worth looking forward to, so it should be a great event for Koreans and expats alike,” said SIWA Vice President Robin Carney.

Shoppers peruse craft items at the 2015 SIWA & Diplomatic Community Bazaar in Lotte Hotel in Seoul. (SIWA).

The bazaar will offer a wide range of food, and there are high-end craftworks and imported wines available at a discount off regular retail prices. Christmas items such as decorations and cards are also on sale each year.

“The SIWA and Diplomatic Community Bazaar is (not only) the best place to discover wonderful international products in a good atmosphere, but also a great opportunity to help a lot of charities,” said Justesse Gomis, SIWA’s bazaar chair.

The bazaar will also feature performances throughout the day, including jazz by the Iced Americano Trio and singing by the Camarata Music Company, a local organization that connects locals with expats to give them the chance to perform classical and other music.

On the sidelines, visitors can buy tickets for a raffle with prizes from stores, restaurants and spas.

The event attracted about 5,000 visitors last year, including tourists, and the association expects a similar number this time around.

“The annual bazaar brings SIWA, the diplomatic community and other expat organizations in collaboration to raise money to help the many disenfranchised members in our host country,” said SIWA President Anne Choe.

The proceeds generated by SIWA from the event will go toward local charities, enabling them to serve the Korean community better.

Hosted since the 1960s, the SIWA Bazaar has raised over 2 billion won ($1.76 million) over the years. The money goes to SIWA’s Welfare Fund, which reviews requests from charities and distributes the money, with the most common causes being disadvantaged children, homelessness or disabled people and senior citizens.

As part of its welfare efforts SIWA held a coffee morning to raise awareness of breast cancer on Oct. 19, with a talk on screening and prevention by Korean Cancer Society President Dr. Noh Dong-young, a prominent breast cancer surgeon in Korea. The association made a donation of 10 million won to the Korea Cancer Society at the event.

Another beneficiary from last year’s funding was Mubeopjeongsa Yongin Home of Youth, also known as Big Mama’s House, which houses disabled children and their siblings. The home needed a new floor to house some of its children and meet regulations.

“Big Mama’s is one of the charities that we have consistently supported over the years,” Carney explained.

The SIWA & Diplomatic Community Bazaar runs on Nov. 14 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Lotte Hotel Seoul. Admission is free.

For more information, visit http://siwapage.com/major-events/bazaar.

2016 Oct. 21, THE KOREA TIMES

SEOUL, Oct. 21 (Yonhap) — The Seoul International Women’s Association (SIWA), the biggest organization of foreign women in South Korea, will hold its annual bazaar next month in which a variety of unique everyday products will be up for grabs, the association said.

The bazaar, co-hosted by the Seoul-based diplomats’ wives community, is one of the largest international charity fundraising events here, according to SIWA.

This year’s event is slated for Nov. 14 at Lotte Hotel in central Seoul under the theme “Share Culture, Share Love, Share Life.” Admission is free for all visitors.

Organizers said diverse cultural items from across the globe and various other products will be on sale at discounted prices. There will be a place where people can enjoy ethnic cuisine, musical performances and a lucky draw event.

All proceeds from the one-day bazaar will be donated to around 20 Korean charities for orphans, the homeless and disabled people. Hosted since the 1960s, the annual bazaar has raised an accumulated total of around 2 billion won (US$1.8 million), the association said.

“The annual bazaar brings SIWA, the diplomatic community and other expatriate organizations together in collaboration to raise money to help the many disenfranchised members in our host country,” the association said in a statement.

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