2023 Concluding UNESCO Master Class Master Class Gwangju Series Participant…

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Concluding UNESCO Master Class Master Class Gwangju Series Participants' journey 

on the road to becoming youth champions fighting against racism and discriminations. 

Image courtesy: UNESCO / Fabrice Gentile

The participants of the first ever UNESCO Master Class Gwangju Series attended the “UNESCO Global Master Class against Racism and Discriminations”, held on 21 March at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, together with around 1,000 young people that joined both onsite and online. While the Global Master Class this year welcomed students from 25 countries and 40 cities, the ‘Best Team’ among Gwangju Master Class participants, as chosen by the jury of experts at the 12th World Human Rights Cities Forum, were the only ones among the Global Master Class participants to stand on stage and present their project.


First launched in 2019, UNESCO Master Class against Racism and Discriminations is a platform created to empower youth to become anti-racism champions in their schools and communities. Somewhat different from its archetype, Gwangju Series was envisioned as a long-term project, and under the theme of "Youth Actions in Response to Online Discriminations", gathered 20 high school students from Gwangju to explore issues surrounding the rise in online hate speech. Namely, over the period of about 2 months, all Gwangju Series participants created and implemented their own team projects focusing on raising awareness and proposing solutions in response to racism and discrimination lurking behind malicious expressions online.


Image courtesy: UNESCO / Fabrice Gentile

Gwangju Series’ ‘Best Team’, team ‘On-sae-mi-ro’ consisting of Seoyoung Choi, Yurim Lee, Youmin Ju and Hyejung Yun, led by teacher-facilitator Youngbaek Yun, focused their project on raising awareness about refugees’ discrimination in Korea. The turning point in their project preparation as they mentioned was “when we realized that ‘we’ are the protagonists of this project, ‘we’ are now the key stakeholders in fight against discrimination”. While researching about refugees’ discrimination at home and abroad, they recognized that in case of Korea, focusing on a precautionary approach, rather than a reactive one, and acting as soon as possible was the key. Targeting their peers, whom they learned have been most exposed to online hate speech during the years of COVID-19 pandemic, the team emphasized they specifically opted for producing an education video due to lack thereof. Their core activities included promoting the video both online via various social media channels and offline by putting up posters in schools. The members pointed out that, despite many ups and downs along the way, they cherish the experience, as it was the first ever opportunity to entirely lead such an initiative, from brainstorming and literature review, to planning and implementation. They concluded their presentation with remarking: “Most importantly, this project just naturally became an inseparable part of our daily lives.”


Aside from the presentation of the Master Class Gwangju Series achievements, the rich program of the Global Master Class included an opening lecture by Gabriela Ramos, Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences of UNESCO, as well as a moderated conversation between Xueli Abbing, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and Sanele Xaba, youth leader, who shared their unique experiences as albino models who actively speak up against racism and discriminations. It also incorporated a special lecture on the history of prejudice by Xavier Mauduit, historian, author and TV/radio anchor, and interactive dialogues with Rossy de Palma, actress and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Cultural Diversity and Tenoch Huerta, actor and anti-racism activist, who shared empowering messages with young participants.

While participating in the UNESCO Global Master Class was the finale of the first UNESCO Master Class Gwangju Series, it was only the first step of empowering youth champions against racism and discrimination in Gwangju. The program of the second UNESCO Master Class Gwangju Series is currently in the making and the call for participants is expected to start in June this year.  

▶UNESCO Master Class Gwangju Series Students’ Activities Video


▶UNESCO Master Class Gwangju Series Best Team Presentation Video