SIWA: half a century and a whole lot of women
By Terri Hartman
It all started around a kitchen table. A group of 47 foreign women, right after the Korean War, got together with the objective to form a club. The purpose of the club was to provide an opportunity for the foreign women to get to know each other, to participate in serving the local community, and to learn about Korea. This small group was the seed for what is now the Seoul International Women’s Association (SIWA). On April 3, SIWA celebrated its 50th anniversary.
SIWA has a lot to be proud of during its 50 year history, and it has grown and prospered along with the country itself. Currently made up of about 400 women from over 40 countries, SIWA is unique among the foreign groups, in that about 25 percent of the members are Korean. This adds a unique flavor to its events, and many of its local members form lasting friendships with those visiting for a short time. In addition, during its 33 year history, the SIWA Bazaar has raised over two billion won for various Korean charities. All of the money that SIWA raises stays in Korea, helping organizations as diverse as study rooms, multicultural centers, and homes for battered girls and women.
“SIWA can provide our members with ways to experience Korea and to learn more about themselves.” For some of our members, it is a chance to continue in their area of expertise. Some of the members will choose to work on the website or write articles for the Discovery Magazine, much like they did in their home countries. One of the board members, who is a lawyer in her home country, drafted a lease agreement.
On the other hand, some of our members want to try out something new. Some take cooking classes or brush painting classes through SIWA, or help with publicity, which gives them a chance to learn new skills.
“SIWA will be having a 50th Golden Anniversary Luncheon to celebrate its achievements. As the current SIWA President I feel this elegant luncheon, 50 years in the making, will be an opportunity to honor our members and really celebrate. In particular, to show our appreciation, we will be giving out the first Volunteer of the Year Award. The award will acknowledge one very special lady, who gives so much of her time to help SIWA do many of the things it does”.
The luncheon will be held on May 9th at the Grand Hyatt in Seoul. For more information, visit www.siwapage.com.