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[Student Essay] Service Action – Individual Growth and Community Development

Donghee Kim
Grade 12 – Service Council Prefect, Branksome Hall Asia

There are times when the worst experiences in our lives become the catalyst for positive change. This sums up my three years at my boarding school, filled with emotional and psychological trauma. As someone who has always struggled with body image issues, I was aware of the stares, blatant comments, and undisguised whispers about my physical appearance. In the three years since I tackled my two-page list of fears, there have been countless setbacks and failures that I call growing pains. However, overcoming the fears step by step, now my name is announced as a service prefect, or as a guest speaker at the Inter-Korean Association Forum, and I am no longer weakened by the fear of attention. public.

Having experienced a personal crisis in high school, I understand that advice, expert advice, or even a different perspective can be of great help to anyone struggling with personal challenges and difficulties in life. Motivated by this personal experience, I became interested in helping others in need.

Helping North Korean Students: K-Unification Club Leader

At first, it was an individual effort to reach out to those around me. However, I quickly recognized strength in numbers and got involved in group volunteer activities, which led to the establishment of the K-Unification Club whose purpose is to raise awareness of the dire situation in South Korea. North and its refugees. I started the club with the support of two other students and it now has 19 members and is recognized by the Inter-Korean Cultural Exchange Association through which support for refugees is provided.

Working with North Korean refugees has provided insight into the state of Korean non-profit organizations struggling with public disregard and outdated practices. Although government funding exists, there is not enough for those who need it. This led to my desire to pursue a career in social work. Through policy innovations and creative implementations, I believe we can make social work more effective and efficient in Korea.

Santa’s Secret Box: Service Council Prefect

Last year, I had the honor of being elected as Service Council Prefect by the entire school community. My goal as prefect was to encourage students to see the benefits of service not just for those they seek to help, but as a source of enjoyment, community building, and holistic growth.

Santa’s secret box is a small example of how this balance can be achieved. This is a Christmas event where students send surprise boxes to an orphanage to share with them the joy of giving. We, the students of BHA, were involved in all stages of the campaign, starting with orphanage identification and correspondence, organization of gifts, distribution method and presentation. This involved the whole school through their homeschooling from middle school through high school. In total we collected almost 70 boxes after which our Board of Service played the role of Santa’s elves, wrapping all the boxes and decorating them. It was a wonderful experience that helped the orphanage and provided the students of Branksome Hall Asia with the opportunity to participate wholeheartedly for the benefit of all. I was very impressed by people’s commitment and enthusiasm to help others, to share happiness. This not only successfully achieved our goals, but also inspired me to promote service events even more.

Protest against “Asian hatred”

At the end of last school year, we responded to a contrasting opportunity to engage students in an area in need, by introducing a new awareness campaign linked to the rise in Asian hate incidents around the world. We have planned a theatrical performance to raise awareness of what it is like to be discriminated against. Each of our members acted as victims of different types of discrimination, displaying signs in a traditional form of protest demonstration. We paraded the show all over the school campus, gave speeches, and gathered other participants in the process. The demonstration became a topic of much interest and discussion both at school and on social media, through which we were fortunate enough to affiliate with an American non-profit organization in order to expand our role in reaching a wider audience outside of school.

Along my journey over the past few years, these service-learning engagements have provided me with tremendous opportunities for personal growth, not only looking within, but turning my eyes to the ways in which I can engage and empathize with others.

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