Last Sunday, I was asked to meet and organize our volunteer delegation at the bus terminal for Mulmangcho. Everyone, except one who was on the list made it to the bus in time and off we went. I reserved a spot early for this volunteer session as it was really popular. Instead of teaching English, we were going to help make kimchi.
For a long time I have wanted to get involved with helping North Korean refugees while I live in Korea. Last year, with the crazy bus schedule I thought it would be impossible, so I never pursued any opportunities to help out.
This year, while browsing meetup.com one day I saw an opportunity to volunteer at Mulmangcho School. It is an alternative school for North Korean refugees and one of the options it to volunteer to teach English on Sundays. In case you were wondering, Mulmangcho means ‘Forget-me-not.’
In May, I went to a meeting about a volunteer English program through the city of Incheon, called Camglish. I am responsible for teaching three students 1 hour a week through google hangouts via webcam. I thought it would be an interesting opportunity and a chance to help students out that no longer had a native, English teacher at their school. I was assigned three third year middle school boys. I have to say there are times when the classes have gone really well and other times that were a complete flop. All three boys have different personalities and interests and may not be that close of friends outside of our camglish class.
We were given a book to use at orientation to help facilitate our lessons with our students. I find it a bit tedious to do book work through a webcam so I asked the students and we decided it will be a conversation based class only. Yesterday, I had class with them and although I try to plan in advance to have material ready sometimes it is not read. Other times they barely talk to me and I am the one doing most of the talking. Sometimes this is okay with me, but yesterday I just wanted the class to end. I enjoy teaching the boys, but I receive little enthusiasm from them. I always ask is there anything you are interested in learning about so that I can teach it to you. So yesterday, one boy said teach something that stimulates interest. I’m not sure where to start on this as they are all different and it is interesting to one and not the other. So now I have a headache to figure out before Tuesday night. I really want to do well with the boys and have them enjoy our class together.
Unfortunately, for now I guess I will just have to deal with it and take it as it goes. I do not know what to do or how to stimulate their interest, but I suppose it will all just work itself out.
I have a good friend I have met here that volunteers a lot and I was always inspired by him. One day I happened to notice that he was going to volunteer on an event on facebook and I thought to myself, why don’t I sign up as well. I was a bit apprehensive about volunteering by myself in a foreign country at first but this experience at the Aemin Orphange made me feel more comfortable with it.