During my junior year, I attended a model united nations conference in Taipei as the delegate of Denmark in the World Health Organisation, debating to define the ethics of stem cell development and technologies.
When people ask me about my background, I have to walk them through a brief story of my third culture childhood – I was born in South Korea, moved to Japan when I was three, attended an international school from kindergarten exposed to Western culture, and lived in Canada for an year. Additionally, my moral and ethical values have been influenced greatly by my christian and relatively religious family.
Even today I have trouble identifying my self with the views and beliefs of one distinct culture. My education and intellectual perspective have been heavily influenced by Western culture, while my ethical values have been shaped by christian values as well as both Korean and Japanese cultures.
Before investigating stem cell research and development, I had a prejudice against abusing and destroying the earliest stages of human life. However, through my research from Denmark’s perspective – one of the leaders of stem cell research with paramount support from the government – I was able to learn about the lifesaving advancements made from stem cell research such as bone marrow transplants, treatments for diseases such as cancer, diabetes, lung disease, and many more. The most fascinating part about the research was the fact that this field of stem cell research has recently emerged in the last two decades and has great potential to save and better the lives and well beings of humans in the future.
While debating and drafting resolutions regarding the question at hand, I noticed that interestingly, the majority of nations were in favour of stem cell research regardless of religion. The main concern with all countries was the threat and ethical dilemma of human cloning. Although stem cells can treat deadly diseases and be beneficial, its pluripotent nature has the ability to essentially clone humans. I was able to discover that all nations shared the same belief to ban human cloning but differed in the extent of both legal and financial support depending on their economic development and capacity to support as well as how much they valued scientific development.
From this experience, I was able to learn the valuable lesson of not letting my religious views establish a preconceived opinion before having sufficient understanding of the topic. Moreover, given the truly diverse and global society we live in today, although governments and people have differing beliefs, I felt that no matter the difference in nation, religion, or culture, we live in caring society where people generally strive to support efforts that aim to better the lives of others.