Want to donate some of your time on the weekend? Check out Bean Seoul! They have volunteer events at a couple of orphanages throughout the month where you can help kids with English and other activities. The events usually last for 3 hours and don’t take much of your time at all. However, you shouldn’t treat it as a filler for your weekend and decide to cancel last minute should something more interesting come up. Volunteering is a commitment and should be treated seriously as the program depends on their volunteers.
My first experience was at Hyangjin Orphanage (향진원) in Incheon (인천) and very positive. It was a very different experience from my last volunteering adventure, but just as refreshing. Being my first experience, I didn’t know what to expect, but as long as you are good with kids you should be able to manage. Some of the kids will be curious about you and be very polite, while other will be quite shy. There were about 20 or so from elementary to high school and they all go to ordinary schools like regular people.
The session started out with English practice which was just solving a bunch of word search puzzles. There were some interesting worksheets involving dating and relationships being passed to middleschoolers. There were questions such as “Have you ever played hard to get?” and “How do you usually find dates? “. I thought these worksheets were pretty interesting given I don’t think I’ve ever done worksheets like that in my life. I can see why so many boppers date at such a young age now in Korea. What was most impressive was how the orphans worked with each other to solve problems and took turns acting like a teacher. It felt like a really tight knit community.
After English practice, we all congregated to have snacks and play around. I showed a couple of them my cameras, and while I was very nervous letting 7 year olds hold my camera, it turned out fine. It was very refreshing to see how young minds took to more adult-oriented hobbies such as photography. Most of the pics in fact were taken by the kids.
I was so surprised at how fast time passed there, but I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the different lifestyle of the orphans and wondered what life would have been like living with so many “brothers” and “sisters”. It felt as if their lives ultimately changed my perspective on life. I’ll definitely be coming back to see what else I can learn from them.