Friday, December 6, 2013

Two months have come and gone: Part 1


It’s been two months since I last blogged, and what a two months it was. So many things happened that I won’t be able to talk about all of them, so I apologize in advance.

First though, I want to talk a little bit about what I do at my site placement, because I realize I haven’t really talked about it. I work 4 days a week at Saenaru Gongdong Che (Saenaru Community Center), a church and (you guessed it) community center located near Daejeon Station. On the third floor of the building is a children’s center called Samsung Center (not related to Samsung the company, but named after the “dong”, or neighborhood it is located in). The first part of my day begins with working on the first floor, where a meal is served to the local homeless and/or poor population who live near the train station. Most of those who do have somewhere to sleep do so in tenement-like one room apartments, some of which are barely large enough to fit a bed or sleeping mat. Downstairs I answer to Jipsanim (deacon), whose name I don’t actually know partly because nobody calls him by his name and partly because I’m too afraid to ask. For a long time I didn’t know his title either, so in my head I referred to him as happy-jolly man, because he is usually smiling and in good spirits (a notable exception is when he tells me to do something 4 times and I still don’t know what he’s asking so he physically moves me to where I need to be…this actually happens fairly often).

After serving the meal comes clean up, an assembly line operation that the folks at Saenaru have gotten down to a science. My favorite position is position 4, or Aquarius (I made up this name). It is this persons job to not only give the trays their final go underneath the faucet, but also to ensure that no water is wasted and that each sink has enough water (hence the title of Aquarius). I haven’t come up with nifty Zodiac associated names for the other positions yet, but I’m working on it.

With clean up completed, it’s upstairs I go, where I eat dinner with the children and teachers from Samsung Center and then do those dishes. Doing the dishes on the second floor is much less stressful, partly because the woman who cooks helps. She is a very nice woman who is always concerned that I didn’t eat enough and saves me from being given more donuts than anyone could possibly eat by Jipsanim (the Dunkin Donuts at the train station donates all of their leftovers to Saenaru, and Jipsanim usually attempts to send me home with about half of them, which is a whole lot of donuts).

Finally, I head up one more flight of stairs to the children’s center itself, where I teach English/play games with the middle and high school students who go to the center after school. All of the children I teach come from either poor or unstable home environments, usually both. Most of my students are girls, and my absurdly extensive knowledge of Korean pop music comes in handy. For example, my lesson on superlatives consisted of questions like “Which member of EXO (a hybrid Korean/Chinese boy band) do you think is the most handsome?” which unintentionally sparked controversy when the girls disagreed with each other. I’m still surprised they know all of their names…there are 12 of them after all. After about an hour of teaching, it’s time for me to head back home.

Ok, so know you know what I do…onwards to other things! What else has been going on? Lots of things! At the end of October we attended part of the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Busan, which was kind of one of the most amazing things I’ve ever experienced. It was an incredibly jam packed 3 days, and I met people from all over the world. We participated in bible study, ecumenical conversations, prayer services, and worship services. The theme of the assembly was “God of life, lead us to Justice and Peace”, and this theme was apparent in every aspect of the assembly. I will dedicate a later blog post to explore the assembly in much more depth.

Ok…I am all written out at this point…I know it’s been way too long since I last posted and I truly apologize. I will attempt to be more intentional about posting in the future. That’s all for now, stay tuned!

1 comment:

  1. Bennett, thanks for writing this blog. You clearly explained your activities at the Community Center. This is the first time I understand what one of the YAVs is doing. I hope you continue to be enriched by your stay in Korea. I'll be leaving on Dec. 10.

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