m a r k a n d e y a

On a Personal Note…

Posted by Brian on January 15, 2006

I finally got around to doing something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time… I went to a local ophanage to spend some time with the kids there.

I’ll be honest… it was difficult for me, and a bit scary. I have zero experience with kids so I was really unsure about what I would be able to contribute. Luckily, I ran into some other foreigners who were also on their way to the orphanage and, being experienced with this sort of thing, they gave me some helpful advice.

Upon arrival, I expected some sort of orientation from a staff member or a more experienced volunteer, but we were simply dumped into the main play room where the majority of the kids were playing. The other volunteers who had done this sort of thing before said that this way of doing things was a bit odd; in the past, they said, at different orphanages, they were assigned a group of 2 or 3 kids to spend their time with.

Eager to get things underway, I spoke with one of the staff and told her I had brought a few kids games to play and asked if she could arrange a group of 4 or 5 kids to join us (David, an American soldier who I had met on the way, joined us). She rounded up two girls and two boys and escorted us into a small room with a table where I was able to set up my Jenga set. We started with introductions and got the game underway.

I quickly learned the limits of patience in children. Our “game” would make it about once aorund the table and then one of the kids would simply knock the tower over… game over. They, of course, found this very entertaining, though, and I guess that’s what is most important.

We played Jenga a few times and then David tried to teach them how to play Jacks. This didn’t work because the kids just didn’t have the patience to listen to my explanation or to wait their turn to play. I brought out another card game and ran into the same problem: the kids were just too hyperactive to sit down and play a game. But hey, kids are kids, right?

Lunch time rolled around and we were told to go out for our own lunch while the kids ate theirs at the orphanage. We went out, ate, and came back about 45 minutes later. I left the games in my backpack and instead simply sat down and waited for a kid to approach me. One young boy came up to me with a book and we spent some time reading a Korean-language kids book together while he sat on my lap. I then spent some time helping them move some furniture around until it was time for me to go. All together, I was there for about 2 hours.

I plan on going back next Saturday, and every Saturday after that until I leave Korea in July. I’m hoping that after a few more visits the kids will get more accustomed to me and it will be easier for them to spend time with me.

I told my girlfriend about what I did and she looked at me like I was some sort of angelic diety. I told her I didn’t want her to make a big deal out of it because I believe spending a few hours each week helping the less fortunate shouldn’t be a big deal… it should be expected.

I encourage other foreigners in Korea to donate their time as well. You won’t regret it.

You can get information at www.yheesun.com/. You can also read an article on the orphanage I visited here.

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3 Responses to “On a Personal Note…”

  1. Shin Yoo said

    I guess you left a lot of us embarassed. That was a nice thing to do indeed.

    But leaving in July? What’s that?

  2. yak sox said

    Hey man, that’s a really decent thing to do. I used to do some voluntary work with mentals in Oz but because of the language gap and what-not am finding it hard to locate similar outlets in korea.
    On that link to yeesun.com — is that right?? All I see is an oz-based email to something about lawnmowers… strangey.

  3. Link fixed…

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