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Always Giving a Helping Hand
Written by Janghoon Lee | Published. 2020.05.26 10:05 | Count : 320

My parents always tell me that, when I was a kid, whenever I saw a homeless person asking for money, I would always beg my parents for a dollar or two to give to them. I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the poor. Maybe that is why I grew up to volunteer in so many community activities. However, as a student there are some limitations to what I can do. One thing I can do is to offer my English skills. Living in a society here in Korea where English ability is highly prized and sought after, I can contribute my time to help others become more proficient in English. 

Sena Hwarang is a youth non-profit organization program that seeks to instill pride in its members, develop and train future leaders, and contribute to the community. One of its programs provides free English classes to students from low-income families at the Yekkum Church in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province. The students range from elementary students to middle school students. The English classes take place once a week on Mondays for three hours. I am one of the happy volunteers for this program.

[Conducting an English class/Photo Credit: John Kim]

I teach elementary school students. The class starts with vocabulary exercises and then moves on to reading passages. After that I engage in simple conversations with the students to teach them spoken English. Through such conversations, I make a particular effort to motivate their enthusiasm for English.

I asked a 5th grader, Seh Chan, how the classes had helped him. He said, “I like the small size of the classes as the teacher can give me a lot of attention. Usually at the English academies, there is one teacher per fifteen or so students, so I don’t get the individual time with the teacher that I want.” He also enjoyed the fact that the young volunteer teachers like me were able to relate to the students better than adult teachers at the academies.

[Logos and Values of Sena Hwarang/Photo Credit: Jang Lee]

Teaching the classes has been demanding and rewarding at the same times. Some of the students have very low English proficiency as they have had only minimal English instruction outside of the very beginner classes at school. However, their enthusiasm can be contagious as their excitement about the lessons rubs off on the teachers. 

The English classes have been temporarily suspended since late January due to Covid-19 epidemic. I miss my students. Once in a while I get a text message from some of them asking when the classes will start again and how I am doing. I always regret that I didn’t message them first and that an elementary school student is wondering how I am doing first. Hopefully when the classes restart soon, I will be greeted again by eager to learn students who give all of us teachers at Sena Hwarang so much gratification.

Janghoon Lee
Junior (Grade 11)
Korea International School

Janghoon Lee  student_reporter@dherald.com

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