This past August, I accompanied a community service project hosted by the Hanyang Cyber University’s Urban Design and Architecture called Ttook-ddakTtook-ddak. This project focused on applying the skills and knowledge on architecture learned in classes to helping people in. Typically, the students and professors visit a family living in a house that needs a great deal of repairing but lacks the financial means to pay for it. They then redesign their home to be safer and cleaner for free.
|[A banner posted on the hallway walls outside the apartment being fixed. (Photo courtesy of Rachel Lee)]|
The house I visited was located in Seongdong-gu, Seoul. The residents of the home were a single dad, a high-school aged girl, and the father’s mother. Though the dad used to have a job, as he turned into an alcoholic and developed habit that negatively affected his professional and family life, he lost his job. Without any way to earn money to pay for rent, the father and daughter had to move into the government-issued apartment they now lived in. Because the father’s alcoholic behavior led him to abuse his daughter, his grandmother had originally planned on “adopting” her and has her move into her house, but his father insisted on raising his own daughter, and so the grandmother moved in with the father-daughter duo to ensure the safety of their family life. Now, the father is learning to adopt a more responsible and affectionate attitude and is planning on starting to apply for jobs again and mend his relationship with his daughter. As the first step of his journey toward redemption, he applied to the project the department was hosting.
To be honest, when I first stepped into the apartment, I was in shock. The apartment barely had any space; the one “bedroom” in the apartment was probably not much larger than my closet. There was no kitchen to be found, and the stove that was in the middle of the apartment was clearly old and falling apart. In fact, the entire apartment was probably the size of my living room; I couldn’t understand how three people could live together in such a small space.
|[The students were hard at work tearing down the interior of the house before redesigning it.
(Photo courtesy of Rachel Lee)]
When I later saw the house after the interior had been redesigned, I was shocked. Unlike the disorganized and crammed house I had visited a few days prior, the apartment now made the best use of the space it was given and looked far tidier and structured than it did before.
|[The fixed living room of the apartment (Photo courtesy of the HYCU photography team)]|
Overall, visiting the house the architecture/design department had worked on gave me an insight on my mode of thinking. I learned to appreciate the house and lifestyle my family provides for me, and I was able to recognize the privilege I enjoy in society. The biggest thing I took away from this project was that it’s important to use that privilege for the greater good. A few days of labor and hard work had the power to change a family’s life for the better and hopefully set them on the right path and mindset.
Seoul International School
Rachel Lee firstname.lastname@example.org
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