I first joined the International Goodwill Society last year. Founded in 1960 by passionate university students who believed English was the key to global success and “the gateway to friendship,” the IGS is one of the oldest English debate clubs in Korea.
|Members of the International Goodwill Society club host a weekly discussion meeting every Tuesday in Seoul (IGS)|
Over the past five decades, IGS has held countless meetings to discuss diverse issues, and has been publishing essays in a weekly compilation called the Pigeon.
IGS members meet every Tuesday at 7 p.m., alternating venues between the British Embassy and a community hall in Myeong-dong, Seoul.
What makes the IGS special and different from other English learning communities is that we have the opportunity to hone our English writing skills as well as verbal skills. The IGS’ publication committee continuously encourages members to write English essays for our weekly publication, the Pigeon. It is also the committee’s job to edit the Pigeon every week.
On the first day, I was surprised by the enthusiastic and fruitful discussions that the members had prepared, and I was happy with the level of the debate and the members’ English skills.
Each week, we discuss essay topics chosen by our members and edited by our publication staff. Every member has to study prior to the main meeting. Through this preparation, I believe that I was able to become more familiar with reading English articles and making use of them.
The weekly Pigeon consists of three main sections: today’s topic, the next topic and related articles. These sections can be written by any member of the IGS.
I believe the experience of working on the Pigeon helped me greatly in improving my English skills, as our staff has to regularly work to write and edit essays for the Pigeon.
My time as the editor-in-chief of the Pigeon, from September until recently, challenged me both emotionally and physically. Still, one of the meaningful experiences at IGS was spending my time with the other people who worked on the publication.
My time at the IGS weekly meeting has been invaluable. I think it let me build confidence in speaking English and articulating my thoughts in front of others.
Since discussions were not under the control of stringent rules ― only having a one-hour time constraint ― I always made the most of the opportunity to practice my verbal skills, test my knowledge, and develop the ability to persuade my opponents.
I have benefited a lot from this process not only in terms of learning powerful and useful English vocabulary and expressions, but also in terms of broadening my horizons in diverse fields.
Also, I have learned that although there are some people who might have a high command of English, they may not be as persuasive as others who are concrete and logical in their arguments. I learned from participating in the meetings that a good debater needs to have sound logic.
Furthermore, regardless of age, English skills and debating ability, I now understand that there is always something to learn from all of the members of the IGS.
The IGS welcomes people of all nationalities, fields and educational backgrounds, although most members are Korean university students. A myriad of people have visited the club and shared their ideas.
The IGS is a place where many walks of life can come together with different experiences and backgrounds, which makes the club all the more interesting.
Kwon Tae-ho is a fourth-year student at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, majoring in Japanese and international studies. He is president of the International Goodwill Society. ― Ed.
By Kwon Tae-ho