CIN goes to…PyeongChang, South Korea

October 17, 2019

CIN member Lazaros Damanis went to South Korea for the Better Together Challenge, a 3-day global gathering – organised by World Culture Open – that brings together social innovators, changemakers and idealists in action from around the world for an inspiring exchange of ideas and celebration of being #BetterTogether. He brought with him the CIN spirit and experience and came back with ideas and a renovated positive energy.

Here his article about his Better Together journey. Enjoy!



It seemed all Korean to me until I got there! 안녕 세상 (Hello world)


Who is the World Culture Open and what does it mean actually?


The purpose of the World Culture Open is to promote and advance a worldwide cultural movement, whose mission is to provide creative intercultural platforms for people to engage, enjoy, embrace, and be enriched together, sharing and respecting each other’s cultural experience and knowledge, as well as dreams and ideas. So far so good!


A global gathering of social innovators and creative changemakers from around the world were invited to participate at in PyeongChang, South Korea for the Better Together Challenge. The context offered an open and live stage where anyone could share their creative solutions for major social issues of our time, and stand to win a grant towards realizing their aspirations for a better world. In addition to the main Challenge, they were running a special contest of ideas for the host city of PyeongChang under the scope of “How to transform the Olympic Plaza site into a peace-themed landmark and enhance a sustainable regional development?


Within this framework I got invited to be among the advisory members whose mission was to vote on each presentation that was happening live on a stage and furthermore to facilitate and provide ideas answering to the main question above. Participants were gathered in small random groups and freely expressed simple or detailed ideas on potential facilities or programs, from a governance system to an economic model.  “Peace” & “Sustainability” (social, environmental, economic) were the two core values of this project. When the discussion panels were activated, you could feel the enthusiasm of the participants joining forces for a common goal, every table was like a small fountain of inspiration that was leading to constructive suggestions openly embraced by everyone.


What did impress me actually was the common mindset among the participants and contestants where all them were very supportive to each other. This urged even the humblest personalities to overcome the language barriers or the fact that they were exposing themselves along with their beliefs for the first time taking a step towards a creative and meaningful extroversion to a powerful think tank. Yet no matter the academic and/or practical knowledge that everyone was carrying in their backpacks, the feeling of respect and thus the culture of empathy was indeed a fruitful soil for those eager seeds who are ready to grow.


The overall organization was outstanding, the use of technology and the paperless procedures (logistics, program, voting system) reminded that we live in the 21st century but left me with mixed impressions. Meaning that I’m used to bring back home tones of promotional leaflets, posters, printed programs which I tend to look at one time per decade. I guess what I brought back could not fit in my plastic luggage just because all the experiences I gained are written with invisible ink into my memory cloud.


I witnessed initiatives from all over the world which many of them were in line with the   UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and also many other who are implementing the desirable change in their own microcosmos yet with tangible and great impact. In short, women bus drivers in Ghana, affordable electricity in conflict areas Mexico/Colombia, harvesting clean water in Morocco, filmmaking for children in Argentina, affordable 3D printed prosthetics for amputees Syria/Palestine, future technology for the development of farming practices in Korea, refugees as trainers of Artificial Intelligence in Middle East and even more…


We all know that the perception for changing the world sometimes carries a very vague sense when it comes to the practical aspect, therefore I witness active people who are using their imagination and knowledge to offer themselves towards the desired change. No matter if it is yourself, your family, your neighborhood or even your country, the world definitely needs those everyday heroes that act on behalf of their inner instincts.


Coming from the Mediterranean it came in a very natural way to connect and to locate people coming from this vivid region of constant changes, obviously I’m influenced by the CIN spirit which I’m carrying and spreading with pride wherever I go.