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Improving the Lives of Korean Orphans Through Outreach and Education

12 Days of KKOOM – [#11] Helping Out Family in South Korea

Laura (in striped jacket) with KKOOM’s President and other volunteers at the 2011 Annual Christmas Party

Laura misses spending time with the children and staff at Samsungwon whom she considers to be family.

It’s hard to believe another holiday season is upon us. Time goes by so fast, and it seems like just yesterday I was a Fulbright English Teaching working in Gumi and volunteering at Samsungwon! While I visited Samsungwon regularly during my 2011-2012 Fulbright year—and have so many lovely memories—one of my favorite memories is of the Samsungwon Christmas Party. Watching the performances and seeing the joy on so many children’s faces truly encapsulated for me the joy of the holiday season and what it is all about – spending time with family.

As a Korean adoptee, I made the personal decision very early on to try to search for my biological family; however, my search proved unsuccessful. While several reasons motivated me to search at the time, one was simply to find my Korean roots. I held on dearly to this idea that I could find my Korean family. After some time to grieve and process, I realized that I could find my roots and build familial ties in other ways. In fact, not knowing any of my biological family suddenly meant that possibly anyone in Korea could be family!

With this perspective in mind, I dedicated myself to volunteering with Korean children and worked at a few different children’s homes in Seoul during my high school summers. During my Fulbright Korea orientation, I heard about Aimee’s hard work and about the organization called KKOOM. Aimee was a Fulbright English Teacher in Gumi in 2004 and is the Co-Founder and President of KKOOM. I immediately let Fulbright know that I wanted to be placed in Gumi, specifically so I could volunteer with KKOOM and be at Samsungwon.

Fortunately for me, I was placed in Gumi! The year I spent volunteering at Samsungwon is one full of memories, and I miss seeing the children on a regular basis. I miss spending time with the staff and children whom I consider to be family. Consequently, I am beyond thrilled to continue helping the children at Samsungwon and other children’s homes around Korea as a Board of Directors for KKOOM. I hope to continue working with KKOOM for a very long time to improve the lives of Korean children and visit Korea again soon.

Thank you for giving during the holidays! Based on my personal experience at the KKOOM Christmas party, I can tell you that your donations truly makes the holidays extra special for everyone!

~ Laura Wilczek, KKOOM Board of Director

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Laura Wilczek is a Resource Specialist Provider for the Chula Vista Elementary School District in California. Passionate about education, she received her Master of Education degree from the University of Notre Dame in Secondary Education and a Master of Education degree in Reading Education from Vanderbilt University. She has been serving as a Board of Director for KKOOM since September 2018. We are thankful that Fulbright Korea helped connect us to Laura because of her dedication to serve the children we support, especially children with physical and cognitive challenges at Aemangwon Children’s Home. 

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