Tuesday, November 5, 2013

AWE Conference '13

So, this post is pretty un-food related and I apologize for the lack of posts recently, but this is one I really want to spread the word about. 

In a couple of days time I'll be headed to Kuala Lumpur for the first ever Asian Women's Empowerment Conference. It's being hosted by my dear friend Jiyeon Juno Kim of Runaway Juno, and aims to inspire and enable women to live the life they want to lead, rather than the one expected of them.

Juno and I at Chinese New Year in Singapore, 2006.

Juno herself has broken free of that mold. I first met her when we were both traveling in Singapore, but she was on a very short trip because she had to go back to Korea to finish her Master's Degree in Mechanical Engineering. When she graduated, she got a job in what she calls the 'cubic farm', where she was expected to work ridiculous hours in exchange for a promising career that she could work at for the rest of her life.

Having a ride in a ridiculous rickshaw in Melaka, 2006.

The problem was that she longed to see the world and hated the environment she was stuck in. She finished her work within a normal work day, but was expected to stay in the office for many more hours, all for show. So what did she do? With all that spare time and solid internet access, she started the travel blog Runaway Juno. 

How much further to the top?  Batu Caves, KL, 2006.

After a year or so of blogging and looking for a way out, she made the huge decision to leave and travel the world. Everyone thought she was nuts. Why would any good Korean girl leave a stable job in her home country, where she was supposed to get married, settle down, and pop out a couple of kids? I know she dealt with a lot of negativity from just about everyone around her, and I completely admire her courage in standing up to all of her colleagues, family, and friends to live her life her way. 

On a big night out in KL, 2006.

A couple of years on, her travel blog is hugely successful, she's quite an accomplished photographer and a social media expert. And now, she's hoping to inspire other women caught in the snare of family and societal expectations to stand their ground and do what they want!

At Trấn Quốc temple, Hanoi, 2012.

AWE is all about that. It's a three day conference featuring successful women (and a man or two) speaking about how they achieved their goals, and empowering other women to achieve theirs. There's everyone from writers and travel bloggers to small business owners and even the founders of charitable organizations aimed at literacy and conservation. And me, ESL teacher and traveler! I'll be sharing stories and advice in the 'Travel Talk' panel on Sunday morning. 

I've been living a somewhat unconventional lifestyle myself for the past several years, as a traveler and expat, but I don't think I get nearly as much flak from people back home as many Asian women do. However, I too need inspiration, ideas, and direction, and am looking forward to meeting all of the amazing people who are going to be attending AWE '13.

The Asian Women's Empowerment Conference is being held at the 5 Elements Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from November 8-10, 2013.

At the Welcome dinner on Saturday night there will be giveaways from sponsors Sedunia Travel, Back Home hostel, and Emila Yusof.

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