A joint project between the Generation branch of the Presidential Committee on Social Cohesion (PCSC) and the MSWC, this program aims to bring together the old and the new generation, providing a place to interact with each other.
“We tried to come up with an effective and real solution to the generation gap and decided that having young adults learn useful know-hows from elders would be beneficial to both groups,” said Sun Bo-young, a PCSC employee in charge of this project. “For young people who lacked even the most basic of basics regarding housework, elders with an abundance of untarnished methods seemed a perfect match.”
Composed of four weekly schedules, “Lessons from the Master of Life” enables young students to learn handy tips for looking after themselves from the elderly instructors. The lessons cover topics such as cooking basic Korean soups and side dishes, ironing and sewing, performing the Korean bow, and behaving properly at a Korean funeral. The program wraps up with the final visit to Kkottdongnae (Flower Village), a Christian community for the homeless and the sick, to allow the participants to bond and empathize for those who have less.
The elders were hired through open recruitments and were divided into four groups according to their specialty of knowledge. Throughout the class, anxious questions from the students erupted from corners of the room while their mentors reassured them and gently fixed their mistakes.
“My student has never worked with a needle before, but he sews wonderfully, and I feel very proud of him,” said 75-year-old instructor Kim Soon-taek with a bright smile.
“I was surprised at how easily I could communicate with the elders. They remind me a lot of my own grandmother,” Hwang Hye-hyun (Dongguk University, 2) said.
In addition to these lessons, the PCSC also runs “Chungchoon Dabang,” a cafe near Hongik University. Here, elderly men dress up as baristas and serve coffee to the customers. They sometimes become mentors of life and give advices if the customers wish.
“The idea is to present young people with a new image of elders; they are not always snappy or disapproving and they can be supportive,” Sun said.
The PCSC is currently focusing on recruiting more students to participate in these classes which are free and open to all students. Students may sign up easily for any class they wish on the desired date by submitting the required information as given on the Web site (http://www.harmonykorea.go.kr/generation/info.asp) by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org), or call (02) 2180-2753 for more information.