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07 January 2015 - Two Filipino migrants, Ms. Jasmine Lee from South Korea and Ms. Yurika Tsuda Moribe from Japan, shared their experiences as migrants during a segment of the 105th session of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Council held in Geneva, Switzerland on November 27, 2014. Ms. Lee and Ms. Moribe formed part of a panel of speakers who recounted their stories of overcoming the challenges they faced as migrants, and shared how they contributed in increasing awareness and pushing for change to improve migrants’ lives.

Ms. Lee is a Philippine-born Korean civil servant advocating migrants’ rights and multiculturalism in South Korea. Elected as a proportional representative in South Korea's National Assembly in 2012, she is the first non-ethnic Korean and naturalized Korean to become a lawmaker. Ms. Lee is the Secretary-General of Waterdrop, a charity formed by foreign spouses of South Koreans, and she worked at the Foreign Residents Assistance Division of the Seoul Metropolitan Government. In 2012, she was cited for her volunteerism and charity work for foreign immigrants in South Korea. She continues to give lectures about these issues to teachers and student leaders, and in various fora, such as the IOM.

At the “Migrants’ Voices” segment of the IOM Council session on November 27, 2014, Ms. Lee recounted the challenges she faced, not only as a woman in a foreign country, but as a migrant in a country that prides itself of its homogeneity. She sought acceptance by studying the local language and immersing herself in Korean culture. After her husband died in 2010, she stayed in South Korea, raising awareness against discrimination and promoting multiculturalism.

Ms. Moribe works as a Clinical Psychologist in Japan. Born to a Filipino mother and a Japanese father, both of whom are academics and researchers based in Japan, Yurika recounted the stigma, the confusion, and the experience of being “different” when she was growing up in Japan as a daughter of a migrant, in a country that is culturally diverse yet known for its homogenous society.

Ms. Moribe discussed the challenge for many second-generation migrants of "finding home” and being caught in between cultures. She narrated her efforts to undergo a conscious process of visiting, knowing and appreciating her two "homes," Japan and the Philippines. She learned to embrace her heritage and to recognize the potential of her multiculturalism in order to help others.

As a clinical psychologist in Japan, she now works with migrant families, especially children, to help them understand, cope with and overcome the obstacles challenges associated with migration.

The 105th session of the IOM Council was held from November 25 to 28, 2014. The IOM is the leading international organization for migration. It aims to assist in meeting the growing operational challenges of migration management, advance understanding of migration issues, encourage social and economic development through migration, and uphold the human dignity and well-being of migrants.

The Philippines is one of the 157 member States of the IOM. END