Global Village 2013
After my participation in another workcamp and a few days spent in Seoul with my new korean friends it was time for my second workcamp in Mungyeong.
By bus it took about two hours from Seoul and since I already knew the landscape and had not gotten nearly enough sleep the previous nights I was asleep for most of the way. When I arrived at Mungyeong Bus Terminal around 12pm our team leaders as well as some of the other members were already waiting there. We all got treated to a round of welcome ice cream - quite the good idea considering that it was 30°C and an almost unbearable level of humidity (although it was way better in the countryside than in Seoul) and when all 15 of us had gathered at the meeting point we moved on to our accomodation.
Maseong Middle School was about half an hour from the bus terminal and located in a small village. There was one room for girls (10) and boys (5) each and we all slept on the floor using the sleeping bags we had brought. We were able to use the school’s bathroom and luckily they installed a shower for us there, too, which was like heaven compared to the first camp’s accomodation. For dinner our korean friends made Bibimbab after which we all sat down and talked about ourselves, about our expectations for the camp and Korea.
Saturday began with an excursion with the kids. Together we all took the bus to a village nearby where we went horse-riding for the first half of the day, which was a looot of fun for everyone. As we were taking turns, those who were not currently seated on a horse would play with the cats and dogs which were all around or take pictures with us strange foreigners. Around noon we went to the museum, which took us about 30-60minutes by foot. Before we entered it, though, we had lunch delivered - delicious Mandu and Kimbab! After visiting the “Patriot Park Yeol Memorial Hall” we walked back to Maseong for another hour and said goodbye to the kids.
Since sunday was our free day, our group visited 김룡사- Temple and then had lunch in a restaurant by the river. In the afternoon we went to the big Home Plus Supermarket in Mungyeong, where we went grocery shopping for at least two hours. Literally everyone of us had to carry two heavy bags, so we were more than excited when there was an old couple from the same village, that would take all 15 of us (plus groceries) in their mini-van and take us right to the front door of our school. That’s 17 people in a 11-seat-mini-van for you. Don’t forget the groceries. So much for the friendliness and helpfulness of Koreans!
Monday to Thursday was pretty much the same - we would be divided in groups, so that from 9am - 1pm there’d always be one group painting outside and one group preparing international food for about 60 people inside. From 2 - 5pm we had classes with the students. Each class was 1.5hours and one of the internationals would present their country during that time. It was quite interesting for everyone, as everyone had their own way of representing their countries and later we all agreed that we actually learned from each other, too. One of the best things, however, was when the kids started greeting you by your name. Gyujung, one of the 2nd graders, was the first to greet me by my name (he was especially interested in Germany because he loves soccer) and when he did that the first time, I was reaaally happy for the rest of the day. It’s an amazing feeling when the kids, who are really shy at first, start to open up and actually come and talk to you. That’s why friday was one of the highlights of the week. After lunch, we’d meet the kids to play a typical korean game inside first. When we had finished that, we all moved outside, where the real fun was about to take place and thankfully, it was a beautiful day with lots of sunshine, too.
In the huge school yard we had prepared kind of an olympic course with several stations, one of them was tying legs of one kid and one international to run to the next station together. Those who were finished would play volleyball or basketball and that was the best part! It started out with me playing with one of the boys and ended with at least six more of them. They all loved sports and if it didn’t already happen before, this was the moment they completely abandoned their shyness. We were all laughing and enjoying ourselves and when the olympic course was finished, Lily managed (unintentionally) to start a big flour fight. In the end, we were 43 students and 15 volunteers completely covered in sweat and flour, but happy and blissfully content nevertheless. We ended the day with a lot of picture taking and great memories.
The next day, saturday, was the last for me unfortunately, as I had to leave the camp two days early. However, I joined in on the morning excursion to the Saejae Fortress, which was absolutely breathtaking. The fortress itself was pretty, alright, but the surrounding landscape was truly awesome. We didn’t stay there for too long, though, as we had an appointment at the ceramic museum next. There, all of us made our own ceramic bowl, which was more of an educational task for the kids than anything else, but the ceramic museum we visited afterwards was worth it after all. We were even able to join a traditional, albeit very short, tea ceremony.
Things came to an end then, as we were boarding the bus to take the others to the next destination and I was being dropped off at the Mungyeong Bus Terminal. The farewell was really overwhelming in a way, as things were happening so quickly. All of a sudden, I was in front of the bus, my luggage at hand and ready to leave, when first the girls from our team, then the boys and a lot of the kids too, all exited the bus to say good bye. I was being given letters and small presents, promises to meet again and a lot of hugs, but the cutest (and probably saddest) thing was the love letter I received from my favorite boy, Gyujung. The next moment they were gone and I was left at the station, waiting to catch my bus to Seoul and back home.
The time I spent in Korea and the people I met from there and all over the world, will definitely stay in my heart forever, as I made some of the best memories of my life there.
I cannot even begin to try to explain all that I’ve seen in this “short” report, as the korean culture is oh so very different from mine, but in such a lovely, surprising way. Actually, I feel like this little “adventure” is just the beginning of something new, as I definitely plan to come back again, next time hopefully as an undergraduate student at a korean university.
A huge thanks to ijgd, Gmarket, eBay, Better World and IWO for making all of this possible - and 감사함니다 to all of my new friends who made this experience what it was!
Der Inhalt der Berichte liegt in der Verantwortung der jeweiligen Autorin / des jeweiligen Autors.