IF YOU could work as a volunteer near Yonsei University in between classes, or after school, would you do so? When The Yonsei Annals asked 101 Yonseians this question, 80 students said yes. However, 38 out of 100 responded that they had never volunteered as a university student, either because they didn’t have the time (14 people) or they didn’t know where to go (13). There are still many people near school who, with our help, can enjoy better lives. Thus, the Annals introduces some unique opportunities for those who want to do volunteer work. Try visiting the places and practice the virtue: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The Salvation Army Bridge Center
The Salvation Army Bridge Center is a shelter that accommodates about 500 homeless people a year. Commissioned by the City of Seoul, it has sheltered, fed, and counseled homeless people back to a healthier, more stable life since 2002. Among the things the center does for the homeless are: grant dinner for free to 300 people a day, find jobs for homeless day laborers, and give night counsel service.
Jeong Ha-young (Soph., Dept. of Computer Science) helped build the center’s database system with two other Yonseians. He says that the best part was using his own specialties to help others. “Since it was hard to organize the counseling data by hand, we built a database system to record counseling information onto the computer. Web programming is not easy, which is why we’re still working on it after our volunteer period ended,” says Jeong.
Korea Childhood Leukemia Foundation
Cancer patients and their families often need resting areas when the patients frequent Seoul’s large-scale hospitals. The Korean Child Leukemia Foundation (KCLF) offers that shelter for children who suffer from cancer. Not only can children play games here and try out recreational projects organized by the KCLF, but volunteers who work as tutors regularly come over so that the children can keep up with their studies.
Son Eun-joo (Assistant Manager, the KCLF) emphasizes that students who want to volunteer at the KCLF must be patient. “Since the number of children varies from time to time, students may not get to do the work the moment they want to. Thus, they need to wait until a patient seeks their help,” says Son.
One Yonseian volunteer, who wishes to remain anonymous, worked as a tutor there for six months. “I visited a child every week and talked or studied with her for an hour each time. At first, I did it without giving it much thought, but later I realized that there are many other people besides the underprivileged who are deprived of their rights to education. From then on, I started to see more value in the work I did,” she says.
Ae Ran Won
As South Korea’s birthrate slips (at 1.22, it is currently the world’s lowest), the government is trying out all kinds of methods to boost that figure. Helping single moms who raise their children alone, it seems, is one of them. Ae Ran Won is a living facility where around 100 single mothers come and go each year. The center takes care of needy single moms starting from the moment the mothers get pregnant up to the point that they can raise their children for themselves. After a year, Ae Ran Won connects the mothers to an affiliate center (one of the seven facilities that make up the Ae Ran Network) that specializes in supporting single moms and their children. Scheduled to open soon, an alternative school for single moms will help them continue their studies with greater ease.
Since most mothers staying at Ae Ran Won have been abandoned by their family and friends, it is important to earn the trust of single moms when volunteering. “Constant volunteer work is necessary for single moms because they do not like to be neglected again. In addition, students should respect single mothers in Ae Ran Won, since they’ve made the hard decision to raise their children,” says You Eun-sung (Social worker, Ae Ran Won).
Ki Bu-geun (Jr., Dept. of Physics), who worked as a volunteer office assistant at the center last semester, says that one of his most memorable experiences was helping out at the charity rummage sale. “I delivered lots of donated clothes and it was quite difficult. Though I wasn’t allowed to babysit, I liked what I did as an office assistant.” He adds, “I didn’t have a chance to talk to the mothers because I worked at the office, but it is admirable how they don’t give up raising their children.”