Guest blog by KKOOM Volunteer, Joe Normile. Joe spent a week at an orphanage through a KKOOM-led Volunteer Stay at an Orphanage in Summer 2011. This is his reflection.
Honestly, I had no idea what I signed up for. I passed on the chance to take a trip so I could stay at an orphanage with several other volunteers I did not know. The sleeping arrangements were unknown to me and I started to think that maybe my decision to volunteer was in haste, maybe I really wasn’t cutout for this. But, then I arrived. I spent my vacations traveling all around Asia and stopped in Africa before going back to the USA. The most memorable experience of my 3 years abroad are the 7 days I spent at the Emmanuel orphanage.
I was met by the most enjoyable kids I have ever known. Young and old, conversational English to none at all, everyone made every attempt to take care of me and make me feel welcome. Talk about humbling, there were houses of 10+ orphans serving me food, cleaning up after me, making room for me to sleep, just doing everything possible to welcome to their home. We played sports together, went on trips, learned how to make food, went out to restaurants, and I even had the chance to take out the older boys for karaoke. There was nothing uncomfortable at all about the stay. Every night I had an air-conditioned room with a mattress and sheets. The meals were big. I could get away everyday, if I wanted.
The orphanage staff were amazing. Thy were friendly and so helpful. The volunteers were from all over and from different walks of life.
I’ve seen the pyramids and Angkor Wat, traveled through Japan, seen some of the prettiest beaches in Thailand and Malaysia, the infinity pool in Singapore, and road a bike through Vietnam. Through all of the countries and all of the experiences and stories I have had and made there is one thing that I could only find in one place. Have you ever wondered what it might feel like to be a person’s inspiration? To be someone’s reason to smile? Do you want to know what it’s like to be the excitement and joy for an auditorium full of children or give meaning to someone who might have nothing? Try this.
For information about volunteer opportunities at orphanages in Korea, see our volunteer page here.