The service learning department at Korea International School strives to give its students an opportunity to learn about their community and devote their time to helping those in need. As part of the experiential education trip held last August, the senior class had the privilege to visit Aehyangwon, a home for the disabled located in Gangwon province. Due to the fact that the students were familiarized of the atmosphere and responsibilities during their junior trip, they were ready to help. Aehyangwon holds 70 mentally disabled residents with the motive to reintegrate them into society. As soon as the students arrived at the facility, they were greeted with a warm welcome from some of the residents. They never ceased to let go of their smile and expressed curiosity to our foreign teachers
After a short briefing session, students divided into pairs or triplets and dispersed into the 3 activities advisory teachers have prepared, one of which was body tracing. On a large piece of paper, students and residents worked together to trace the body of another person. Sometimes the students drew flowers and animals upon the residents’ request. Another activity the teachers prepared was leaf rubbing. A piece of leaf was placed under a sheet of paper and the residents used color pencil to color and reveal the leaf on top. In the beginning, some residents were hesitant in participating. Eventually, however, they opened up–becoming more engaged and interested the last activity was necklace making where students and residents worked together to make a necklace with a piece of string and fruit loops. Through such activities, we were able to build invaluable relationships.
We live in a society in which disabled individuals are marginalized, discriminated against, and undermined for their so-called “differences”. However, what really should be marginalized and undermined is our underdeveloped thoughts. A society can truly advance when everyone is treated equally and provided with equal opportunities, regardless of their physical or psychological status. In such a sense, service learning and experiential education trips truly serve as priceless opportunities for individuals to understand others and make a changes in their social perceptions.
Junyong (Jake) Jung
Korea International School
Junyong (Jake) Jung email@example.com
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