Our conference is coming to a city of volunteers

By Wendy Osborne, IAVE Senior Consultant. Image from Google Arts & Culture.

Busan, South Korea, carries forward the resilience, hope and humanitarian values forged in its darkest days

In six months, the global volunteering community will meet in Busan, South Korea for the 27th IAVE World Volunteer Conference. Six months ago, IAVE staff visited Busan for a site visit and were warmly welcomed and hosted by the Busan Metropolitan City Volunteer Center, our hosts for the 2024 conference, and the Busan Metropolitan City Government. 

In 2023 South Korea marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War. The war lasted three years, claimed millions of lives and involved over a dozen nations. As it progressed, Busan was ring fenced by conflict, served as the country’s capital, and became a place of refuge for many Koreans fleeing the conflict. 

Refugees board a tank landing ship in Masan Port, headed for an island off the coast of Busan. See more at Google Arts & Culture.

At the start of the Korean War, Busan had a population of just under a million people. As it progressed, the city took in almost a million refugees.

This startling statistic and its humanitarian impact have left a strong historic memory that lies at the heart of the culture of the city and is very much part of Busan’s motivation to host the World Volunteer Conference. Again and again during the site visit IAVE heard individuals and organizations express the importance of “giving back”— an acknowledgement of the support the city had given to those war-weary refugees and a recognition of the countries who had stepped forward to provide support and aid to South Korea. 

Busan today is a city of over 3 million people, the second city after Seoul and the economic, cultural and educational center of southeastern South Korea. Its port is South Korea’s busiest and the sixth busiest in the world.

Busan is a city and a people that lived through devastation and trauma, that rebuilt anew and carries forward the resilience, hope and humanitarian values forged in its darkest days. 

Nothing can be more fundamental to the spirit of volunteering and voluntary effort than to understand the importance of receiving and giving help. This mutual aid principle remains intrinsic to the definition of volunteering.

We gather in Busan to consider the importance of volunteering for creating a sustainable future and delivering on the vision of the UN Sustainable Development Goals of “no one left behind.”

We will acknowledge that, for many people, the world of 2024 is a perilous place. Yet our conversations will also be about hope, about people reaching out, giving back, understanding that their, your, our well-being is intrinsically linked with everyone else on this planet. 

Join us in Busan to share and learn from one another and stand in solidarity to recognise the importance and power of volunteering. Find out more and register for the conference at wvc2024busan.kr

Register for the 27th IAVE World Volunteer Conference in Busan, South Korea, 22-25 October 2024!