During the Global Youth Activation Summit, the international group of youth leaders voted for two of their peers to serve as Global Youth Leader co-chairs. The team from Special Olympics South Korea, of Yoo Na Kim and Yang Hyun (Yanni) Cho, was elected by their peers and will continue the efforts of the GYAS as they plan for the next youth summit in Pyeonchang, Korea. They were asked what it means to be elected as the Global Youth Leader Co-chairs and what they hope to do in their new role. Here’s what they had to say:

It is a great honor to take this position. We are both very excited because we a can do a more effective job on making contributions with what we have got. On the other hand, we are also very nervous since we recognize that this position has many responsibilities to fulfill. We promise you all to try our best!

What we hope to do most in this position is to get ready for the next Global Youth Summit. After the two week program we felt which sessions were greatly needed and which sessions could have improvements to make it better. We are planning to reflect on these points to make a better youth summit next time in Pyeongchang.

We know that Korea is not as well informed about the Special Olympics. We figured that the most effective way to get the youth to take part in and experience the spirit of the Special Olympics was through unified sports, so we will start with this project. Then, we hope to form a youth summit within Korea to carry on more projects in larger scales.

In addition to being named Global Youth Leader co-chair, Special Olympics Korea athlete Yoo Na Kim, had the chance-of-a-lifetime to perform on drums with Korean pop band, The Wonder Girls, during the Closing Ceremony of the World Summer Games.

During the two week Youth Summit, I think some participants would have noticed that whenever I had spare time I would start drumming with my imaginary drum sticks in midair. Also, I bet some noticed that I was missing during a few sessions. This was because I was the drummer playing on a Lego shaped cart behind the Wonder Girls during the Closing Ceremony.

It might have seemed as if I was just having fun up on stage, but that isn’t all true. It was an amazing experience, but the process to rise on that stage was quite tough for me. Starting in Korea, I had to practice the drums every day, and even in Greece, I went to rehearsals to practice. I had to wait for hours under the scorching sun to wait for my turn, and sometimes we had to repeat the same part over and over again. At the hotel, I listened to my part of the song constantly and I can still hear the song we played on the Closing Ceremony before I go to bed.

But this hard work was worth it. I enjoyed wearing a costume and putting make-up on for the performance. I also enjoyed being in the center of attention and getting cheers from the audience. To tell you a secret, I actually dropped my drum sticks during the performance because I was very nervous but I quickly picked them up and started playing again! The night of the Closing Ceremony was an invaluable experience that I will never forget forever.

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