I am excited to share with you my decision to go to South Korea for a year with the Presbyterian Church’s young adult mission program. Upon graduation in December, I applied to this program with the desire to serve others and live somewhere new. Despite this, the decision to commit was challenging and stressful. I had not pictured myself going somewhere so far away. I had wanted to go to a developing country. I look at these doubts now with a sense of appreciation, knowing that part of service can be going to a place you did not anticipate going, and letting go of expectations. The more I learn about the South Korea YAV program, the more called I feel to go there.
South Korea is known for having one of the most rigorous education systems in the world, usually highly ranked by international standards. In South Korea family is commonly viewed as an economic unit, with each family member expected to play a significant role in helping the family succeed as a whole. This can be positive, and is part of why South Korea’s economy has seen rapid development in recent years. However, it also puts enormous pressure on South Korean youth. It is more difficult for families with less means, for the pressure falls harder on them. I hope to enhance their children’s lives by helping them develop their language skills (as I develop my own), and alleviating some of this pressure. One particularly neat aspect of my experience will be volunteering aside Korean university students, which should further immerse me in Korean culture.
I will be serving at the Beopdong District Children’s Center, which was established in 2005 to provide free meals and after school programs for children of low-income families. It is common in South Korea for families with money to hire after school tutors. Hopefully I can serve the poorer families like a tutor, which is actually something I have done here in Jacksonville. This program is unique in that it engages the entire family in activities. The South Korean culture heavily values community, and I am excited to experience this.
During my year in Korea, I will study the tumultuous history of the Korean peninsula. I will travel with other volunteers to the Korean Demilitarized Zone, museums, and historical sites. The Korean War is known as the forgotten war, but its effects are still present today on the divided peninsula. The focus on conflict analysis and peace during my year is something I am looking forward to. I think it will provide a larger context to my service, both as an American abroad and as a disciple of Christ.
With an open mind and heart I look forward to learning about another culture and growing with the people I meet during my year. The YAV Program will start this upcoming September and finish the following summer. While I hope to find peace within myself, I am sure I will face anxieties and difficulties as I exit my comfort zone. I invite you to join me on this journey by following this blog throughout my year. If you would like to donate to help me fundraise, you can do so via the link below. Each volunteer is required to raise $4,000 total. Your prayers and well wishes are also appreciated.
Peace and Blessings,