A Memory of the World workshop was held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, from 17 to 20 September. The workshop was organised by the Korean National Commission for UNESCO and co-hosted by the UNESCO National Commission of the Kyrgz Republic and the Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea. Participants worked on submissions including a palm-leaf collection of folk literature, a genealogy in a dead language, a traveller’s diary from the 11th century and administrative records from the 1920s.
A palm-leaf collection of folk literature; a genealogy in a dead language, stretching back thousands of years; a traveller’s diary from the 11th century; and administrative records from the 1920s – these were among the draft nominations of documentary heritage brought to the MOW Training Workshop in the Asia Region held in the Park Hotel, Bishkek, Kyrgzstan from 17 to 20 September 2014.
The fifth in a series of workshops organised by the Korean National Commission for UNESCO, the event was co-hosted by the National Commission of the Kyrgz Republic for UNESCO, and the Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea. In her speech at the official opening, the Secretary General of the UNESCO Kyrgz National Commission, Ms Elnura Korchueva, welcomed participants – most of them first time visitors to Kyrgzstan – and set the workshop in a national context, describing something of the nation’s unique history and heritage.
The purpose of the workshops is to encourage countries and institutions which have very limited – or even no – presence on a MOW register, and to mentor participants in developing their first nominations. Each participant brings to the workshop a draft nomination for an item of documentary heritage from their own country.
On this occasion, participants from Kyrgzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Iran were present. Intended participants from Pakistan and Vietnam were unable to come at the last minute, but submitted their draft nominations for discussion and feedback. The nominations were developed and revised in group and plenary sessions, and in one on one discussion with mentors who have long experience in preparing and assessing nominations. The international team of mentors comprised Dr Rujaya Abhakorn (Thailand), Ms Joie Springer (Barbados), Mr Jan Bos (Netherlands), Professor Kyung-ho Suh (Korea)and Dr Ray Edmondson (Australia). The workshop programme began with a series of presentations by the mentors, explaining the MOW programe and the nomination criteria in detail.
On the final day, there were study visits to the National Library of Kyrgz Republic and the manuscript department of the National Academy of Sciences. Participants were introduced at first hand to some treasures from the collections of both institutions.
Past workshops have resulted in two important outcomes: a range of successful nominations, and a network of new contacts which widens relationships among institutions. It is anticipated that this workshop will be no different!