When we talk about tourist destinations in Latin America, one of the first that comes to mind is Machu Picchu, one of the seven new wonders of the world. This wonder is located in Peru, a country populated with approximately 32 million people and possessing extraordinary gastronomy, culture, and beautiful landscapes that span from the Amazon to the desert, from the valleys and plateaus, through the Pacific and the Andes, precisely where Gloria is from.
Gloria Laguna Huerta, the second of five children, was born in Huánuco, a province of Peru known as “The City with the Best Climate in the World.”
“My parents and siblings are my everything. I have an older brother named Brusse, and three younger siblings called Luis Miguel, Katherine, and Natalia who is only 11 years old.”
Gloria moved to Lima, the capital city of Peru, at the age of five. Her parents sought better opportunities for their children and to continue their business.
Ever since she was a child, Gloria was characterized as being an enthusiastic, optimistic, hardworking, and friendly girl who sought to achieve great things in life not only for her and her family but also in contributing to the development of her country. One of her first accomplishments was being admitted to study at the National University of San Marcos (UNMSM), the first and most prestigious university in Peru. The National University of San Marcos, recognized for being the oldest university in America (470 years in continuous operation, since 1551) and known as “the Dean of America,” has much prestige, for it hosted notable Peruvian figures such as Mario Vargas Llosa, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2010.
“The admission exam of the National University of San Marcos is one of the most difficult and competitive in Peru. The competition is extremely fierce, but fortunately after one year of hard preparation, I made it! Graduating from San Marcos University has meant a lot in my life.”
While studying for her bachelor’s degree in international business administration, at the age of 20, Gloria began her professional work experience as an intern at the Peruvian Agency for International Cooperation (APCI), an entity of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Peru and the maximum authority for International Cooperation in the country. She considers this experience to be the foundation of her expertise in working with governmental and international organizations. After that experience, a new opportunity arose in one of the most important agencies of the United Nations (UN), namely the International Labour Organization (ILO). There, Gloria worked as a consultant for a project on the sustainable development of the UN system called “Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE),” which enabled her to learn more in depth not only about the UN Agencies ecosystem and their joint work for achieving their respective mandates but also more technically about the Peruvian government itself, as she needed to manage a variety of projects on green jobs, green industry, and green economy policies with the Ministries of Labour, Environment, Production, Agriculture, Transport, and Communication. At the same time and at the same table, she dealt with their UN counter partners: UNDP, UNIDO, UN Environment, UNITAR, and ILO.
At the ILO, Gloria’s passion for sustainable development and international development emerged, and her admiration for Korea strengthened, as it is one of the leaders of green growth worldwide and is one of the primary donors of several green growth projects of the UN.
“While working at the ILO, I got to know about the Korean Government Scholarship Program- KGSP, (currently named GKS) so I decided to apply directly through the university track. This means I had to send all my documents directly to the school having only one chance to get the scholarship. However, I sincerely wanted to apply only to KDIS because I found impressive how international the environment of the school/student community/staff looked like. Only by searching a little on the website you can see people from all over the world so for me that was fantastic. Also, I fell in love with the MDP Program. It was exactly what I was looking for after my experience in APCI and ILO.”
So strong was her desire to pursue her master’s degree at KDIS that after reviewing the website and online brochure of the schoo,l she got in contact via social media with Anna Lalova, a former KDIS student from Bulgaria. Anna helped Gloria to be 100% confident about applying and caused her to fall in love with KDIS even more .
The opportunity to become a student at KDIS, or “the mini-UN” as she calls the school, came to Gloria in August 2018; however, before coming to KDIS, she needed to complete a year of the Korean language program at Duksung Women’s University in Seoul. There, she studied with Socrates Luseka from Kenya and Justin O’Cconor from Australia, both of whom later became beloved friends of hers as they joined KDIS together after successfully completing their Korean language studies.
In August 2019, Gloria finally arrived at KDIS, where she enjoyed face-to-face classes and unique experiences, such as the “International Food Festival,” which she could share with her friends from all over the world, especially with her Latin American friends. She particularly enjoyed her time in the kitchen, which was one of her favorite spots in the dormitory because there, she could cook dishes from her region and share them with all her beloved international friends at KDIS.
Although the pandemic arrived in 2020, Gloria never stopped working and following her dreams, and in fact, 2020 served as a year of opportunities for her. In 2020, she had the opportunity to intern at the Global Social and Economic Forum (GSEF) from January to March in Seoul, an internship organized and hosted by the Seoul Metropolitan Government. Furthermore, in August of the same year, she was selected for another internship at the Intellectual Property Center of Korea in Sejong city, where she participated in the OASIS Program offered by the Korean Immigration Office with the aim of promoting the creation of patents and startups in Korea. While doing this internship, she made one of her best friends at KDIS, Chistina Humtsoe from India, who was selected for that same internship. Gloria is deeply proud of this friendship in particular because in Christina Humtsoe she found a sister, a family, a role model, and a wise young leader woman from whom she received even more inspiration to continue pursuing her own goals.
Given her newly acquired experiences, Gloria decided to move to Seoul with her best friend from Peru, Maria Candiotti (GKS 2017), in the fall of 2020, after completing most of her credits at KDIS and seeking to continue her life of gaining more experience and knowledge, both professionally and as a person.
Once again, life in Korea had excellent opportunities prepared for Gloria. In this way, she could not decline the request of moving to Busan and beginning a new professional experience at the Korean Export and Import Association (KOEXIMA) & Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Association (KOTIPA), where she is in charge of managing international trade and diplomatic relations between KOEXIMA and its partners worldwide: Embassies, Chamber of Commerce, Economic Associations, Companies, and governmental entities in Korea and abroad, including Latin America, Asia, Europe, Africa, and Middle East. Essentially, her job is to boost sustained economic development worldwide by promoting international trade and investments. She is glad because this has been a unique opportunity for her to contribute to expanding the exportable offers of Peru and the Latin American region in not only Korea but also the Asian market.
On the cusp of graduation, Gloria describes her experience in Korea as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and she is pleased to have completed such a phase that has allowed her to grow as both a person and a professional.
“I am very happy to finish this phase that has lasted me 3 years. Doing this interview I have remembered all the priceless moments I have experienced in Korea and at KDIS. I recently traveled to Jeju Island and seeing the astonishing landscapes I could vividly remember all the good times in this country, the culture I got to learn and appreciate, the friends I made worldwide, the Korean food I got to love, the bounds I got to created… In summary, everything.”
“If I leave Korea, I will do so with the satisfaction of having achieved my personal goal; I am now more aware of who I am and what makes me unique as a woman from Latin America, from Peru. I love my roots and my country now more than ever, and I feel that I got to know about the world through my friends and their backgrounds.”
When we asked her about what advice she would like to share with new KDIS students and anyone who wishes to travel to study, she stated the following:
“As one of my good and beloved Mexican friend (Jesus Calderon, also from KDIS) said: “The world is so big and diverse that if we stay in one place for too long and we do not give ourselves the chance to go and explore more, then, we won’t be able to finish our cycle.”
“And to the new KDIS students I would say: Enjoy every day of your stay, make every day worthwhile. Interact with all the people you can, because at the end those are the precious memories that are going to last and accompany you forever.”
Gloria is undoubtedly a fantastic role model for everyone in not only Latin America but also the rest of the world. Gloria has demonstrated that with passion, hard work, and perseverance, you can achieve anything. Certainly, she is Peruvian glory in Korea.