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Overseas Volunteer Work: A Dream Journey

Last winter, in the year of the horse, the overseas volunteer team from Changwon National University left for Kathmandu in Nepal to do educational volunteer work. Our work was divided in two: special education and early childhood education. As students of the Department of Education, we amassed unforgettable memories through this experience. In this piece, I will write not about how successful our volunteer activities were in terms of international development or education but, instead, about the process that I am still going through now, following my dream through volunteer work. There will be no boasting or romanticizing; only the learned lessons of a challenging experience.

Having an interest in international affairs, I have planned my future career ambiguously. I want to be a professional in the field of international development working for a non-government organization. My indecisive goal and hard school life due to the severe competition in getting a job these days required a firm belief in myself and some actual trial and error beyond my studies. Overseas volunteering was one way to build up my ‘specifications’. On the other hand, overseas volunteer work in developing countries was not that attractive to me because of my skeptical perspective that it is an extremely short period to do something substantial, and not merely showy. However, most professors and advisors told me about the value of experience, and I decided to go.

After three weeks, the preparation was incomplete till the day we left for Nepal because we lacked understanding of the field. However, through cooperation with Nepali teachers, the self-sacrifice of all participants, and the immediate’ feedback from the students, we could realize our projects. Looking at my past, I now see the wandering without a destination, and the hesitating out of uncertainty over taking the next step. A notion that must be emphasized through this experience is that if I did not take the first step towards my dream, I would never have had the chance to feel the thrill and positive energy from people that actually realized their goal.

Lee Hyun-ah  powersoft3@naver.com

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