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Students Embody Spirit of DI at Korea’s Largest Science Festival

By: Tina Shaffer

Most of us who take part in Destination Imagination (DI), whether as a participant or volunteer, know that throughout each season we will learn the true meaning of success and what our personal definition of the term is. Successes happen during Instant Challenges, team meetings, debriefings with ourselves or others, and at tournaments. Sometimes at the end of the season, the true success comes from understanding how many failures or tries it took to reach that point.          

While representing DI at the annual Science and Creativity Festival, hosted by the governmental organization Korean Advancement for Science and Creativity (KOFAC), I was able to witness countless successes throughout the five day event. Some of these successes were small, while others were large; but no matter how long it took team of kids and adults to complete their task, their recognition of success could be seen in the form of toothy smiles and giddy high-fives.

Participants of all ages were challenged to use their teamwork and communication skills to stack four levels of various sized cups with only a string and rubber band device. Parents raced their kids, grandparents joined their grandchildren, and DIers from around Korea brushed up on their Instant Challenge skills throughout the 5 day event that was said to have attracted 318,000 people.  While there were countless numbers of people who were able to try DI, one family in particular embodied the true spirit of DI and what it means to succeed.

One morning a mother with her two young children, one about the age of 2 and the other around 4, stopped by our booth and asked if they could try the activity. With strings in hand, the mother and her children got to work and steadily began to build the tower base. The second level seemed to be a bit more challenging for the pint-sized participants as they could barely see over the table, let alone reach the cups. Determined to finish the activity, the mother set the cups on the floor and sat down with the kids to start from scratch.  Each time a cup fell, they started back from the beginning. Thirty-five minutes later, after many tumbled cups, the final cup was placed successfully on the top of the tower.  Immediately after its placement, you could see the faces of the children light up. They were so proud of themselves to complete the task, which seemed daunting and frustrating at times. Watching the patience, perseverance and positive attitude of the mother throughout every minute was simply amazing. She knew that her children, no matter how young, could complete the tower – and they did. It just goes to show that success doesn’t come easy, but with the right people supporting you and a “try again” attitude you will eventually succeed; isn’t that what DI is all about?

Stack ‘Em Up was one of the many activities participants could take part in during the country’s largest science festival in Ilsan, which focused on the theme of “Science, on the Wings of Imagination.”  More than 300 organizations from 10 countries were in attendance and provided hands-on activities from holding live tarantulas to riding a bike with square wheels to exploring the South Pole.  I look forward to returning again next year and working with KOFAC to continue to provide fun and engaging activities that encourage our future generation of leaders and innovators. 

Emily Panasowich, Destination Imagination Director of Asian Operations, and KOFAC President, Hye-Ryu Kang

Emily Panasowich, DI Director of Asian Operations, and KOFAC President, Hye-Ryu Kang