The monochromatic beauty of winter in KAIST is somewhat private to those who stay in KAIST during the vacation. That serene beauty of snow and quiet isolation is appreciated, but nevertheless lonely. In contrast, the beauty of spring is the beauty of populace and color. As the straining grasp of winter subsides, cherry blossoms bloom to signal the arrival of spring and students both new and old flood the campus. The flushed tinges appear one by one on campus, as if in congratulation of the freshmen’s matriculation. April, as the herald of spring, brings out the best part of university life. Not only is spring the season of color, it is also the season of bonding; freshmen are getting used to their new life in KAIST and getting to know their new friends in their batch and clubs. One factor that definitely helps is one special KAIST tradition.
In Catholic traditions, strawberry represents righteousness. On the other hand, in Pagan traditions it symbolizes friendship and love. In KAIST traditions, it can be said that both are correct — the strawberry is a representation of KAIST virtues and bonds. More than 20 years ago in 1995, strawberry prices took a heavy fall in Korea. To help the nearby farms, students of KAIST began to purchase strawberries instead of alcoholic beverages. This act of kindness over time, shaped itself into a strange form in KAIST, the Strawberry Party.
On the day of the Strawberry Party, different clubs and their members scatter around the campus. Generally finding a spot on patches of grass, students gather on mats to dine and discuss various topics. Under the warm sun with delicious food and beautiful scenery, students take breaks from their busy daily life. However, strawberry party may have more meaning than just that.
Despite numerous unfortunate conventions that afflict a number of Korean universities, the Strawberry Party is one that is an extremity on the opposite side of the spectrum. Its origin stems from a benevolent cause that is maintained even to now and is supported and run primarily by the school’s Student Welfare Council, which sells strawberries for 7000 KRW per kilogram. In addition, it is a rare respite for students. Under the heavy workloads of various courses, student burden themselves psychologically as well, many refusing to take breaks even when one is warranted. This event, even without its most obvious benefits aforementioned, is an “excuse” for students to relax. It truly is an event of the people, by the people, for the people.
Recently, the student society has seen much division due to different opinions and issues such as the scandal of Undergraduate Student Dormitory Council. Like this, our society is lacking appreciation and respect for each other. We are caught in the undertow of our daily lives, responsibilities, and conflicts and in that cold sea of pressure we retain a cold attitude. Through some intermissions in between, some culture and enjoyment can perhaps thaw our petrified heart. I wish enjoyment of the strawberry party can bring about cemented bonding within the student society and restore the hue of our hearts back to a bright redness.