I actually became part of this program by accident. One of my sisters, as a researcher for the Public Welfare Association in Seoul, recommended this program to me. I had no preconceived notions about volunteer work before I applied. The day after I spoke to my brother, I saw an advertisement for a subscription on our university homepage. I just filled out my application and left my fate to God.
I joined the team as one of a 20 member group. We began preparing after our final examinations. Everyday we started at 10 AM and finished at 10 PM. It was not fun for us. Everyday was the same even on Christmas and New year's Days. I got tired of the monotonous daily routine, but we couldn't delay because the departure day was coming.
Jan 8, 2006. We arrived at Kunming Airport. For me, it was the first time to visit China. Everything was totally different from what I thought. Before I left Korea, I found some pictures of Kunming on Google site which looked like a poor and rural area. After I got there I realized a complete surprise that the streets were full of stores and shopping malls. The most striking thing of all was that the place was so crowded with people. I came to realize that Kunming was the capital city of Unnam province which is bigger than South Korea.
The next day, we met Clara working in the YN International University who suggested our taking part in the Bird Flu prevention campaign. Because of this, our schedule changed a little bit and we started our volunteer service at an elementary school 4 days after we arrived. With only 2 or 3 hours per school, it was not enough to show everything we had prepared.
After Kunming, we moved to Anning for our second week. Anning reminded me of Gumi in Korea. On the way to Anning we passed by many industrial plants. Although Anning is a manufacturing town it was calm and clean. Our lodging in Anning was poor, compared to the YN University Hotel, but it was not a problem for us because of our passion. I thought this would be our last chance to volunteer our services in China. Due to our ever changing schedules we could not volunteer services as much as we wanted in Kunming, and for our last week we had planned to go traveling.
We visited many schools including middle and high schools. Someone working in the municipal office helped our team visit many places, and our service ran smoothly thanks to his hard work. Wherever we visited we received a warm reception and drew attention to our presentations.
However, in welcoming us, most of Chinese students' performances tried to show Sino-centralism. I received a picture from a school boy and there China was located at the center of the world map and it was surround by a dragon. I felt horrified because the picture was drawn by a 9 year old schoolboy. Most of the middle and high schools had great facilities much better than a Korean middle or high school.
I don't think China is worse than Korea. China is one of the fastest growing nations, and they have plentiful human and natural resources. I think China is the only nation that can compete with the US in the future. Before I went there I just wanted to give Chinese students who would not normally have the benefit of a cultural exchange an opportunity to meet foreigners.
However, I wonder how the Chinese students we met felt about our services. Some Chinese high school girls refused to receive our homemade natural soaps. I was very sad because we spent many hours to make it in front of a hot burner before we visited their school. I could see tears in Yuri's eyes, the youngest member of our team, when we finished our last volunteer service.
We came back again to Kunming and traveled over many places, thanks to YN University's solicitude. I have learned many things about minority races of China during our stay in China. To tell the truth, it was very different from what I thought it would be. After 23 days of being together, I felt my team was like a family and I want to use this writing to say 'Thank You' to them for everything.
저작권자 © 영남대학교 언론출판문화원 무단전재 및 재배포 금지