A Day of Gunsan Orphanage

January 19, 2010
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My first impression of the Gunsan Orphanage was quite distinctive and effectual. I was awestruck by the severe heat of the scorching air inside the front doors. As I walked into the common room, I was welcomed by a group of cheerful youth. Their appearance were typical of ordinary kids of their age, but some of them had a daunting, somber look on their faces. The ambivalent mood of the orphanage was premeditated, but to witness it firsthand was doleful.

I was standing still as a rock, puzzled, and intimidated since it was my first time in front of so many kids. The depressing mood of the orphanage did not do much to ease my tension. Then, one of the directors of the volunteer program, Joo Young Kim approached me. At first, I panicked. However, Joo Young did not say much; he gave me a quick smile and nodded his head sideways. I understood what he meant. He wanted me to take a deep breath and encourage myself to move forward. The aisles were full of children, and the walls were painted pale white. Standing there, I realized the white color of the walls had a deeper meaning than usual. I began to imagine if white, the color of purity and cleanness, had another meaning. At the orphanage, the white color represented sorrow and abysmal misery. I felt extremely bad for the kids: without brothers or sisters, without a mother or father, and without love or support.

A gush of depression attempted to overwhelm me, but I managed to gather my nerves for the next step. Joo Young came up to me again to assign the tasks I was supposed to handle. Since he knew I was a student studying in the States, I was assigned to teach English. After handing me a small workbook to use, Joo Young introduced me to a girl named Hyun Jin Kang. She was about 10-years-old with a charming personality. “This is the list of things you can do for Hyun Jin. Thanks again and have fun with her,” said Joo Young as he walked away.

I was not sure of how much help I could be for Hyun Jin, especially for only a couple of hours as her English tutor. However, I felt I had to try my best so every effort I give will eventually make an impact on the poor girl. At first, Hyun Jin, was hopelessly staring out of the window of her minute room like Johnsy from The Last Leaf. Looking at her, I felt a rush of sympathy, and realized the true reason of my presence here at this particular moment. “I should be her Behrman and draw that leaf on the wall for her; I should be a piece of hope to her,” I told myself. For the next few hours, I taught Hyun Jin some phrases she could use in English. “How are you doing? I am fine, thank you.” “What is your favorite movie? My favorite movie is Kung-fu Panda.” “What is your favorite hobby? My hobby is drawing “What is your dream? ...”

What is your dream? Unfortunately, she was not able to answer this question. Obviously, it would have been difficult for her to answer in English, but she had no answer in Korean, either. The inordinately long pause felt like a deep arrow piercing through my heart. The poor girl did not have a mentor or a friend who could help her shape and mold her life. I promised her I would return every month to continue with our English tutoring session. I still vividly remember that moment. As I told her I would be back, a trickle of tears descended from her tiny eyes. I realized a small effort from my side could add up to be something significant for someone else. From then on, I returned to Gunsan each month. Now, Hyun Jin has grown to be a lovely young girl. She now has a dream of becoming a social worker that can help change other people’s lives. Viva La Vida.





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BBW4LIFE said...
Feb. 4, 2010 at 2:07 pm
This was not good at all
 
NigKilla replied...
Feb. 4, 2010 at 2:08 pm
I hate this and certain people
 
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