2024 OM Spirit Award Winner

OM is proud to announce this year’s Spirit Award winner to co-ADs Young Hyun Back and In Suk Kim of OM Korea! Anyone that has interacted with the entire OM Korea contingent is left with the impression of joy, kindness and enthusiasm for the program. It is this enthusiastic attitude that exemplifies Odyssey of the Mind spirit of camaraderie and teamwork. This also contributes to the association’s constant membership growth, which allows more and more students to be part of the program.

Young Hyun Back is motivated to be part of OM because of the difference he sees in students that participate in the program, “It is the dynamic change in the students before and after participating in OM. As the spirit of the Odyssey of the Mind suggests, the students who participated were strongly motivated to boldly and fearlessly take on new challenges. Not only that, they also realized that respecting and caring for others is the most wonderful source of power to love oneself. It builds pride and raises self-esteem to the highest level. The wonderful transformation of the students brought us tears of inspiration,” said Back.

This emphasis in finding growth through working with others is evident in everything the OM Korea ADs do tirelessly grow the program and help youth across Korea. Even in winning the award they acknowledged it as a win “for the entire OM Korea family.” 

It is this feeling of family that emanates from the entire association and it starts with the leadership. One of their fondest OM memories is not the various awards they’ve personally won or the many awards OM Korea students have won, but reuniting with a former high school participant who, after participating in World Finals, went to college to become a teacher and then an OM coach! Eventually, she was able to form and train a team and participate in the Korean tournament, making it to the World Finals, “We greeted her with a deep hug of surprise and joy. This was one of the most wonderful and noble memories I have ever had,” Back said.

Since becoming co-ADs in 2017, the association has received the Max Mansfield award for membership growth two years in a row, the only association to do so. The duo also organizes the OM Korea tournament. However, they consider their first responsibility as ADs to be the most important, “First we are responsible for spreading the spirit of Odyssey of the Mind to all students in Korea. We believe that this spirit is the best solution to overcome the serious problems we will face in the future. Because we know that the future of a student who has experienced Odyssey of the Mind and a student who has not will be drastically different,” they said.

Even outside of OM the co-ADs spread the idea of Odyssey to students. Young Hyun Back is an adjunct professor at Soongsil University in Korea, where he teaches creative convergence education to graduate students based on the spirit of the Odyssey of the Mind. In Suk Kim develops and disseminates educational content based on Odyssey of the Mind to kindergartens and elementary schools in Korea.

The spirit of OM is strong in Korea as shown by their enthusiastic and kind leadership, “ We believe that OM is the most ideal solution to transform the minds of growing youth in an innovative and bold way, inspiring them to dream, imagine and challenge themselves. First of all, we are so honored to receive the “Spirit Award”. We take it as your recognition of our commitment to bringing Odyssey of the Mind to students who are our future leaders and hope for humanity, and as your encouragement to keep doing our best. We will continue to move forward and give it our all. Odyssey of the Mind, forever!!!!”