Since November, I was lucky to participate in the GPPN 2022 Conference, forming a team with three fellow Campus Asia students. With such a variety of topics to choose from, I assume many groups would have struggled to narrow down what to focus on. With three team members being from South Korea, our group proposed the “WSME (Women in SMEs) Program” (pronounced We’s-Me’s), aiming to increase the birth-rate in South Korea and tackle the issue of the declining population, by providing appropriate infrastructure for teleworking and childcare. Building proposal was a huge learning opportunity in itself, with internal discussions and multiple sessions of fruitful feedback from the amazing GraSPP and GPPN Professors throughout the program. Overall, the experience can be reflected upon in three parts: the value in having a hard working team, adapting to changing circumstances and finally, the availability of a positive, learning environment.
From personal experience, past university projects have had the potential to have uncooperative members, or group work not being a true, collaborative effort. The GPPN Conference truly highlighted the beauty of having students who are all passionate to make a change, and willing to contribute equally to a project. Despite being designated as a leader for the WSME team, it was merely a title and administrative decision to connect with professors. Through the development of the project, the meetings, discussion, and creation of the proposal were all self-directed by each member, helping one another out when needed. Such cooperation was particularly important for this project, as many teams felt waves of motivation due to changing circumstances.
Many of the GPPN participants were excited for a trip to Berlin, with hopes of an in-person conference. However, the situation ended up changing for the worse, as COVID outbreaks continued in Europe and the conference was switched online. Initially hit by a wave of negativity, myself included, I lost motivation to put 100% into the project. However, by using chat rooms and having regularly scheduled zoom meetings, our team was able to cultivate a friendship nonetheless, and poured our best efforts into the final conference.
To our surprise, the WSME program was amongst the 10 projects selected to be in the finals. This result was beyond our expectations, and made the experience and effort we put in, despite the changing circumstances, more than worthwhile. Two of my team members ended up contracting COVID on the day of the presentations, but due to the online nature of the event, were able to participate during quarantine and showed the strongest sense of dedication to the project.
Overall, the interaction with students from other universities, being able to listen to many amazing proposals, as well as create friendships and memories, the GPPN 2022 Conference was an overwhelmingly positive experience. The conference pamphlets and details are available on their website, which I would eagerly recommend to other students who are considering taking this module to pursue before the 2023 conference!