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U.N. International Yoga Day
Edit by. Justin Jeong-Yui Lee | Published. 2017.08.09 20:17 | Count : 337
On June 21, 2015, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously agreed to officially declare June 21 as International Yoga Day. This was initiated by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to emphasize and share the ideals and values that embody the art of yoga which are peace, harmony, health, and spiritual connections between humans and nature. Every year International Yoga Day has become increasingly popular as more people participate and spread awareness of this annual event. International Yoga Day has even become an event many people look forward to in Korea. To assist those who wished to participate in this global event, I volunteered at the official U.N. International Yoga Day Festival which was held at Olympic Park in downtown Seoul.
The event is set up in front of the famed structure at Olympic Park.

All volunteers had to report to the manager in Olympic Park by 10:30 A.M. Because I live far away from the location, getting there was more difficult than I had expected. By the time I got there, I was already exhausted from the long subway ride in the busy, chaotic Seoul metro system, but I knew that the hard work hasn’t even started yet. The first sight I saw when I arrived was different from what I had imagined. I expected to see yoga enthusiasts stretching and doing poses as they calmed their minds and tried to maintain a moment of peace. However, all I saw was an army of volunteers working together and coordinating every move to prepare for the event. I was shocked to find out that the actual event does not start till 7 P.M. and that it would take many long, grueling hours to prepare for an event that I knew nothing about.

As soon as I got there, manual labor was immediately assigned to me. I was ordered to unload boxes of water and tea from the event sponsors’ trucks. After that was over, I was ordered to unload boxes of brand new yoga mats. Not only did we just have to unload the boxes, we also had to take out each individual yoga mat, peel it from its wrap, and lay it down in multiple rows and columns in the empty park for the participants to use hours later. This back-breaking work seemed to last forever. I was startled when I realized only an hour has passed since I started working. I was tired, sweaty, hungry, and physically hurt from all the tedious labor, so I was glad to find out that our lunch break was soon. As soon as it started I dashed to the nearest Lotteria and devoured my meal quickly to report back to work.

Volunteers scramble around the empty lot to set up the tents and venues to prepare for the event later in the day.

As I returned to work, I was anxious about the work that was going to be assigned to me as I felt as if my back would snap into two if I had to move one more box. To my surprise, my work was complete. A fresh new group of volunteers came in as substitutes and carried on doing the difficult work. The relief that rushed through my body was indescribable. That day may have seemed like nightmare and a waste of time, but as I look back at that day, there are a lot of things I learned. I learned that a simple activity like yoga can unite people from all over the world as they work together to carry out a global event like the International Yoga Day. Thousands of people from over 180 countries participated in this event, whether it was actually doing yoga or working to prepare for this event. It was pleasant to see people come in during their free time to work together for an event like this that is meant to spread peace and harmony. Although I didn’t stay until 7 P.M. to see the event carried out, I hope that the participants who came had the opportunity to do the thing they love with the people they love.

Eager participants gather early in the morning to prepare for the event.



Justin Lee
Seoul International School

Justin Jeong-Yui Lee  student_reporter@dherald.com

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