Each team was given an 'impact factor.' Our team had 'Increased participation in civic life.' We were allotted two places of research - the Daejon Education Centre and the Baek-sa village.
Both of these sites were unique. Daejon is a community centre which is run by volunteer teachers, university professors, students and army personnel. They work towards providing non-formal education to 'students who have gone astray.' In Korea, schooling is emphasized greatly. Students quitting from school for any reason is not appreciated. Many students with family problems, single parents, or drug problems drop out of school. This centre aims to help these young people by providing them counselling and tutoring them. They aim to reintegrate these young people back into the society. The teachers there love their pupils like their own children. The centre is like one big happy family.
At Daejon, we interviewed children who had come there for training and also the volunteers, and teachers. We wanted to know how the system inside Daejon worked and not only worked, how it actually worked so seamlessly. Many of the young people told us how greatly the centre had helped them to get back on track and to make successful people out of them. They told us how volunteering had helped them. It was like listening to fairy tales - except that these stories were true. We realized how by committed devotion, we could give so much back to the society.
It wasn't all work and no play at the centre, we also learnt to make Kimpob which is a traditional Korean food with rice and vegetables laid over seaweed paper. It was delicious. Soon we grew so fond of making it, that we ended up making much more than we could eat. This was a blessing in disguise as the centre also volunteers at a local old age centre so we decided to take the Kimpob and serve the elders present at the centre. They were delighted to meet us - they were overjoyed to receive the food. It gave us great pleasure.
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