During the summer, especially in countries where the climate is extremely hot and humid, many people prefer to stay cool indoors as much as possible. However, some college students voluntarily decide to sweat under the scorching sun. They see the summer as a time to actively challenge themselves in ways they cannot try during the semester. One activity Kim Jin (Life Sciences, 3) and Shin Soo-in (Business, 4) have tried is building houses for the poor. Or, if this does not appeal to you, perhaps you would like to join Ryu Ki-il (Korea Univ., 2) and Jeong Yeon-jun (Seoul Theological Univ., 4) on a cross-country walk to reach your limit of endurance and to discover a stronger will. People sweat naturally during summer, but to these students, it is happy sweat.
Building Houses with Love
Last summer, 20 students including Kim and Shin signed up at the Ewha Volunteer Center for a project building "Love Houses" in the Philippines. The Love House project is one of the several volunteer programs at Ewha organized by Habitat for Humanity International (Habitat). Habitat is an international volunteer organization that attempts to solve housing problems for homeless families by constructing and repairing housing facilities.
To start their ten-day house-building project, they headed for a region named Bicol. After a ten-hour drive from Manila Airport, the Love House Building team finally arrived. According to Shin, at first, the native laborers who would be helping them build houses showed disappointment when they saw a group of young female students coming instead of a sturdy crew of men. "However, as the laborers and village people saw us stamping the earth, framing the structure with steel, piling up bricks, and polishing up the interior of not just one but of two houses so quickly with our bare hands, they gave us all thumbs-up," says Shin. Kim adds, "Habitat activities only allow the use of a few tools in order to promote love and unity amongst builders and to save money for building more houses, so even all the bricks had to be hand-made.
The team also had a hard time with the salty and greasy local food. Some students ended up only drinking tea and eating fruit. But, says Shin, "Even though we were physically exhausted, on the inside, we were very happy and proud of having been able to help people in need."
Cross-country Walking Tours
▲ Cross-country walkers find their friendship to be the most valuable prize of the trip.
[Photo provided by Ryu Ki-il]
Ryu went on such a walk last summer organized by "A Better World for People in their Twenties," a group that plans cross-country travel for people in their twenties. The course she took started at the most southern point of Haenam County to Pohang. At first, she signed up for the walk to have a physically challenging experience and to strengthen her inner spirit. Yet, in addition, she learned how important relationships with "good" people are. Despite the difficulty of the walk, Ryu says she returned home with priceless memories with her troop members such as splashing in riversides, tasting different kinds of soju in every region, and making up all sorts of fusion dishes that people never heard of with basic ingredients every day. Ryu's friendships have lasted even after the journey, and she says there is also joy in comparing the difference in people's looks during the trip, when they were dirty, and after the trip, when they looked clean and normal.
Jeong went on three consecutive walks, from 2002 to 2004, organized by the Korea Collegiate Travel Association. Jeong says the most valuable lesson he learned was about the value of people. "The question, 'Will I make it to the end?' does not hold much meaning on a trip like this. For me, it's about how helpful and altruistic one can be, even when the most difficult and challenging moments come." And Jeong is so attracted to this meaningful experience that he is going out once again this summer. "I strongly recommend those who haven't tried yet. Fighting under the sun with people that will mean much to you throughout life may become a turning point in your life," says Jeong.
저작권자 © Ewha Voice 무단전재 및 재배포 금지