Jul 162013
Stephanie and a child at Samsungwon

KKOOM Volunteer Stephanie Boedecker and a child at Samsungwon hang out at last year’s KKOOM Christmas party

Guest blog post by Stephanie Boedecker. Originally from the suburbs of Milwaukee to what I like to call ‘the suburbs of Gumi, South Korea’ I’m currently teaching English at Buksam High School. I’ve been volunteering at Samsungwon, the home for orphans in Gumi, since April of 2012. This allows me to take a break from the moody teenagers and get my weekly dose of smiles.

Before I had the slightest notion that I’d even be living in Korea I was reading stories about Samsungwon orphanage.

Shortly after graduating, one of my college friends took off on an adventure to teach in South Korea, wound up in Gumi and soon got involved volunteering at the orphanage. I followed her blog, in which the children were mentioned a few times and admired, as well as envied the excitement and joy she was experiencing.

Stephanie's Volunteer Class

Stephanie’s class plays an intense game of UNO.

Fast forward a few years, and I now find myself a year and half into my life in Gumi, somewhere I never could have dreamed to be. Since April of 2012, I’ve been paying weekly visits to the kids of Samsungwon as well as attending some of the other events sponsored by KKOOM.

I’m confident that my time spent at the orphanage has made my life in Korea more fulfilling, unique and exciting. My co-teachers, students and friends have commented on “how nice it is of me to go there”, as if it’s a chore. To be honest I’ve never thought of it this way–maybe it’s because the children of Samsungwon are such genuine kids–but my time spent there never feels like a burden.

My weekly visits usually consist of an “English lesson” where I play games or do activities with four fourth-grade boys (all of whom are like the younger brothers I never had). Although they sometimes seem reluctant to join, I’ve seen them take ‘ownership’ of me, telling other children ‘their’ teacher is there. Although I don’t like excluding the other children, I do enjoy seeing that my students appreciate the time I spend with them. Aside from these visits,the semi-annual parties sponsored by KKOOM, and the new addition of ‘Sunday visits’ are a great opportunity to spend time with all of the kids, getting to know each and every personality.

Although I don’t know when it will be, saying goodbye to these kids will definitely be a difficult thing to do.

Two of Stephanie's students and Samsungwon

Kids at Samsungwon

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