07.08.2020 - For Cook Islands Language Week / Te epetoma o te reo Māori Kuki Airani, we are delighted to kōrero with our Cook Islands tūao Dahyoung Kim (Dee).
Dee volunteered as a Youth and Sports Development Assistant with one of VSA’s partners, the Cook Islands Sports and National Olympic Committee (CISNOC), the governing body for sports throughout the Cook Islands.
CISNOC promotes, encourages and assists sport development and physical activity throughout the Cook Islands, developing programmes, events and activities which encourage healthy lifestyles.
Dee was spending 10 months with CISNOC to assist them in developing and running the new sports initiative called "Sport 4 Life", motivating people of all ages and all abilities to stay active and live a healthy lifestyle. “Our main objective this year was to start the Youth Programme in schools, so this involved a lot of school visits and sport sessions with the kids"
Dee was part of VSA’s UniVol programme, a great opportunity for young university students to volunteer overseas and contribute to capacity building and international development.
Although Dee was repatriated by VSA earlier than planned due to COVID-19, she built lasting memories and friendships in the Cook Islands.
"Although my time in the Cook Islands was short, I was still able to form a lot of friendships in different communities” says Dee.
“Learning Cook Islands Māori helped me a lot in understanding the Cook Islands’ culture on a deeper level. Each word or phrase would usually have some backstory or cultural relevance, and from this I could see what was valued in the Cook Islands culture."
One example from everyday life is the way that language reflects the significance of family in the Cook Islands. “This is shown through a typical introduction, as a lot of it would include the different generations of your family and siblings which I found interesting."
Dee speaks Korean and English, and enjoyed learning a third language as part of VSA’s in-country orientation. All VSA tūao take part in a comprehensive orientation to their new local community and culture, and that includes studying the local language.
"Cook Islands Māori is an endangered language, and they appreciated my efforts trying to learn and use the language in my day to day life. I had a lot of fun trying to have conversations in Cook Islands Māori with the little vocabulary I had – there was always a lot of laughter," says Dee
Dee’s favourite phrase in Cook Islands Māori is "Ko pongi Au" (I'm hungry)