Name: HaNeul Hong (홍하늘)
Volunteer institution: Hyundai Motor Company
Duration: 12 days
Q: What was this activity about?
Among the various CSR activities of Hyundai Motor Company, Happymove is a program that sends about 1,000 university students each year to different countries around the world. Through this program, the company hopes to produce global leaders with humanitarian concerns, leaders who know how to cooperate with others and have the ability to take creative approaches and generate sustainable results. Among the countries I could apply to, I chose to go to Laos, to Champa Elementary School in Vientiane.
Q: What activities did you participate in?
The experience was divided into three sections: Construction work, educational sessions, and cultural exchanges. For the construction work, my team built walls around the school, made stone benches, wooden desks and chairs, varnished over those wooden desks and chairs, and also painted walls. During the educational session, we devoted one day from the schedule to communicate with the first graders by teaching Korean traditional street games and teaching them about the countries around the world. Lastly, for the cultural exchange, our team presented a combination of traditional and K-Pop and Taekwondo moves in front of 300 people of the Champa including several high ranking governors in Laos. Originally, we had another performance planned but about a week before the performance, we found several problems. Thus, we had to come up with something from scratch within five days! Everyone in the team panicked, thinking that we had to start from zero. After hours of brainstorming, we decided to present Taekwondo moves even if only five people in the team had a belt. It was extremely challenging to learn the Taekwondo moves without having any basics in my body. Fortunately, we were able to perform well and the people in the Champa community seemed to enjoy the Korean martial art.
Q: Why did you apply for this volunteering activity?
I applied for this activity because I am interested in joining an NGO that is dedicated to improving the lives of children. Hence, when I first heard about this opportunity from a friend, I thought that it would help me gain a meaningful experience for my future career. In addition, having lived in the Philippines for about ten years, I was comfortable with the South East Asian environment. That is why I specifically chose Laos over countries such as China and India. Another reason that made me apply for this activity was the fact that Hyundai Motor Company covered all the expenses for us to go abroad and work. Usually, overseas volunteering activities require personal expenses to some extent. However, being a college student, it was always a burden for me. Yet, Happymove was a volunteering activity that supported their workers fully which fulfilled everything I desired in an overseas volunteering program.
Q: What did you learn from this experience?
Through this experience, I was able to change my mindset about volunteering. Whenever I volunteered for something, especially if it was serving a community that was in need, I subconsciously thought that I was superior to the them. However, the outcomes of this activity benefited me more than it benefited the Champa Elementary school. A couple of years ago, I watched the movie, “Big Hero 6” and there is a scene in which the two main characters (Baymax and Hiro) do a fist bump. I brought that to Laos and taught it to the children in the Champa Elementary school. Surprisingly, a lot of the kids remembered it and later on, and they approached me just to do the fist bump and run away. I thought I went to Laos to give or share something that I possessed. Nevertheless, I was the one who received a greater change and meaning in life through this experience.
Q: How did you prepare for the internship/volunteering activity?
For this volunteering activity, I first had to check when the registration period was. When I first heard of this activity from a senior, I went to the website right away but I missed the deadline by a week. So I marked the calendar a year ahead so that I would not miss this opportunity again. After registering online, I had the option to present official documents regarding my linguistic ability. I also had the option to submit documents with volunteering experiences. Then I had to write a personal statement using three hashtags. After that was complete, I waited to find out if I made it to the interview. For the interview I went to the headquarter of Hyundai Motors Company located near Anguk station.