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Mission to see the world

Bermudian Kris Furbert is on a mission to see the world.

He has travelled to remote parts of Spain by pedal bike, hiked through Germany and explored souks in Morocco.

His latest adventure? A leadership summit in South Korea as part of the International Duke of Edinburgh Award programme. The Royal Gazette spoke with the avid traveller and former ABIC scholarship recipient.

Q: What were your first impressions of South Korea?

A: When I first landed I was really impressed with how developed it was. Their airport wasn't very big, but it was definitely state-of-the-art. I noticed that the Koreans, whom I had the pleasure of meeting, were very friendly and outgoing. And after the first few days we saw that outside of the bustling city centre in Seoul, the country seemed very spread out with small pockets of populations. But all in all, it was very beautiful with its leaves in autumn colours of yellows, oranges, and deep reds.

Q: What brought you to the country?

A: I was selected to represent Bermuda in the International Gold Event in South Korea. It's an event that brings together participants from all over the world and gives them a chance to meet, exchange ideas and contribute to how the D of E programme develops locally, nationally and internationally. The trip consisted of leadership training, group-building activities, field visits and we were fortunate to be included in cultural activities and shows. My group took part in an hour-and-a-half lesson of Taekkyeon, one of Korea's traditional martial arts (ancestor to Taekwondo), and actually had to perform what we had learned on stage the following day.

Q: What was your favourite part of the experience?

A: My favourite part was having the opportunity to meet and connect with so many dynamic and interesting people from all across the world. We have now created a global network with motivated individuals.

Q: Were there any challenges?

A: The hardest part for me was our group assignment. While there we were split into groups and given different tasks. My group was assigned to visit the [conflict-ridden] North/South Korea border for two days. We interviewed locals living on the border, with the likelihood of violence erupting at any moment. We talked to them about the changes they've seen from before the Korean War to now, how they felt about North Korea and whether they would like to see the two nations reunite and become one again. The responses, especially from the younger generation, were very interesting. One interview was recorded and I put it on YouTube. At the end of the two days we used all of the information we found along with the interviews into a presentation for His Royal Highness Prince Edward.

Q: What did you learn from the assignment?

A: Well the point was to show how the D of E Award could have an impact on Korea and what individuals within the programme could do to help decrease violence in this area. Our research concluded that individuals through the Award could volunteer in the northern border areas, and through this could gain knowledge about what's going on and become more vested in the area. We also found that through “exploration” (purpose with a journey) as opposed to an “expedition” (journey with a purpose), award participants could come up with creative ways to learn more about affected areas and help spread the information learned, and hopefully bring about positive change.

Q: Did you learn anything about yourself?

A: The single biggest thing that I took away from this was about my own leadership style and how I can best use that to work as a part of a team. Also I realised that I am one small part of a larger team, the International Award, but can still have a meaningful role within that team.

Q: During your spare time did you get to see or do anything exciting in South Korea? Would you ever return?

A: While in Seoul for the event's closing ceremony, we stayed in a hostel for two nights, so I got to explore one of the traditional markets called Insa-dong (which at one time was the largest market for antiques and artworks in Korea). We also got to visit one of the palaces next door. Overall, I'd say Korea was a great venue for emerging leaders from around the world to meet. I enjoyed my time there. I especially liked trying new foods, immersing myself in their culture and creating new experiences. It was exciting to be there and experience it all. I had a great time, but I think part of that had to do with the people I shared my new experiences with. I would definitely return seeing that I left without getting to really explore and experience everything that I wanted.

As good as gold: Kris Furbert (far right) recently represented the Island in the International Gold Event in South Korea. He was joined by Rachael Antonition and Ryan Eve and Andrew Parsons (far left), the National Chairman of the Award in Bermuda

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Published December 02, 2014 at 8:00 am (Updated December 02, 2014 at 12:21 am)

Mission to see the world

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