The Mobile World Conference (MWC) is a trade event organized by the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA) held every year in Barcelona. Dedicated to the mobile communications industry, this innovative conference serves as a global platform where small startups and big corporations alike (including Samsung, ZTE, and Procter and Gamble) can show off their new products or services. To my surprise, I was honored to have the opportunity to work as a service worker for the Korean Trade Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA).
|[My digital badge. Photo Courtesy: Yujin Choi]|
Being a part of this event was mind-blowing. I had to sign up for an online badge with a QR code that allowed me to enter the MWC - It was an unreal experience and made me feel as if I were a professional, although all I am actually a high schooler who struggles to choose the right highlighter color to underline my notes with. When I walked into the exhibition, I entered a completely new “city of technology” inside Fira de Barcelona (where the MWC was held). There were multiple expos, including ones dedicated to a specific corporation and ones dedicated to a whole country, with groups of corporations representing each country. The Korea booth, which was operated by KOTRA, featured 15 smaller booths of new small and medium-sized corporations. The displays covered diverse technologies. One was in virtual reality that allowed people to enter Gyeongbokgung Palace through an application on your phone, and another had an exercise wheel with a laser pointer that can be used by cats to stay fit and healthy. Beyond the Korea booth, there were marvelous products that presented infinite possibilities for improving devices/tools. For example, in the Oral-B booth, the company showcased its new “IO Toothbrush” which comes with a mobile application that gives you feedback on how to better clean your teeth while you are brushing. Also, it would be disappointing not to mention the common area, Cloud City created by Telco DR, which offered visitors, investors, and CEOs free coffee and snacks alongside their mesmerizing display. The grandiose displays made me feel like a country mouse walking into an avant-garde city full of city mice.
|[Korea/KOTRA Exhibition. Photo Courtesy: Yujin Choi]|
|[Cloud City. Photo Courtesy: Yujin Choi]|
My job with KOTRA was to interview multiple big or small companies and ask them about their situations since COVID and their overall experience with the MWC, which for this year had both online and offline options available for investors and visitors to talk with the company. I remember scurrying around with an employee of KOTRA and chasing after people who were willing to answer our questions. We went to a wide range of companies, from ones that focused on creating accurate atomic clocks to ones that specialized in 5G and telecommunications. One thing I remember clearly is that all of the interviewees talked about the difficulties they were experiencing due to the lack of face to face interaction during the coronavirus pandemic. Although online meetings allow them to see peoples’ faces through the screen, they said it’s just not the same as actually meeting in person. They all mentioned the lack of human connection when interacting with others online, the absence of the confidence and trust they feel when talking about business and technology with others in person, as well as the eye contact, and shaking of hands. This was interesting to me because it made me realize that, even in the most modern settings and situations, the basic necessities of human interaction are still needed. Ironically, in the most futuristic of settings, I ended up gaining an understanding of the importance of simple human interaction.
I took away two main things from the MWC. First, I saw with my own eyes the limitless development we are capable of. Second, I learned that, even with constant innovation, it is critical to hold on to previous essential understandings, such as the value and importance of trust between people even in the most difficult situations. These core understandings are, in the end, what shapes the potential improvements that we may be able to achieve.
Junior (Grade 11)
American School of Barcelona
Yujin Choi firstname.lastname@example.org