On the occasion of China's hosting of the 2014 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting, I had the honor of participating in its 7-day Youth Week Program as a youth representative of the Republic of Korea. Sponsored by All-China Youth Federation, China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Education, and Commerce of China, the 2014 APEC Youth Program Organizing Committee has gathered young leaders from all 21 APEC economies to the Chinese capital for the first time. As an international student studying at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center in China, being selected to represent my own country at this international forum was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The program has not only provided me with a meaningful venue to meet and forge relationships with some of the greatest young minds from the region, but more importantly, it has left an indelible mark on my personal values and worldviews.
The 2014 APEC Youth Week kicked off at Tsinghua University in Beijing on November 4, 2014 with an opening ceremony and a series of dialogues with CEOs from Asia-Pacific, where APEC officials, entrepreneurs, and business leaders delivered keynote addresses on business strategies and new drivers of economic growth in the region. It was particularly exciting for me to hear directly from these experienced business stakeholders and young successful start-ups who have been at the forefront of innovation and entrepreneurship. As a student of international relations and economics, I was also able to reflect on my potential career paths and immense possibilities associated with business opportunities in China. I dream of working in one of the fastest growing Chinese cities in the future, be it Beijing, Shanghai or Hong Kong, to help connect South Korean people and firms with local Chinese to launch a new business and ultimately working for the South Korean government to strengthen its bilateral relations with China. Insights and wisdom from these business leaders made it clear that my future will be inextricably linked with Asia.
In retrospect, the 2014 APEC Youth Week was an invaluable educational experience as it provided me with an opportunity to network with 70 outstanding youth delegates from the 21 APEC economies and understand various aspects of a multilateral diplomacy. Recognized as one of the six "Best Youth Delegates" during the program's closing ceremony, I have learned to identify my strengths and skills necessary to succeed in the world of international affairs. As I dream of becoming a South Korean Ambassador to the People's Republic of China in my lifetime, being able to experience APEC in the year of China's hosting of the forum had a special meaning for me. Asia-Pacific is the region of the world where I see my future lies. From my own observation, it has become my country's indispensable future stage in both economic and political terms, and the importance that it holds in South Korea's future outlook is indeed enormous. Based on my experiences from the 2014 APEC Youth Week, I look forward to continuing my studies in China to equip me with a competitive edge in the increasingly dynamic world of Sino-global relations.