An intense challenge and deep experience through Service Learning

At the end of the year 2015, the Amity Foundation started its new program KIEP between China and South Korea for cultural exchange and service learning. By connecting people from abroad with China, Amity wants to boost mutual understanding, friendship and peace building among countries and people.

On 1 September 2015, the Amity Foundation was very honored to have the first three Korean volunteers arriving at Nanjing local. Their program lasted from the beginning of September to Nov November 24. During three months the young Korean women attended various volunteer works. They learned how to adapt into different cultures and making new friendships. But most importantly they experienced another meaningful perspective of life: Charity, volunteering and caring for your fellow people.

The three participants of KIEP who have different backgrounds are the following three outstanding ladies:

Gyeongbae Kim -Victoria

Victoria used to live in Nanjing during her childhood. She was always curious about the changes in Nanjing. To have the opportunity to come back as an international volunteer now, she saw that there were many changes. „To live in Nanjing as a student 10 years ago and now as an international volunteer is a totally different experience!“

Kim I Re - Esther

Esther was one of the first participants of Amity's Youth Exchange Program. She was teaching in Thailand before she attended the KIEP program. She loves adventures and is dedicated to learn new things. “I wish I will also learn a great deal from the country and the people in China.”

Lee Jee Woo - Jasmine

“Before i came to china, i heard many good things about Amity's service learning program”, Jasmine said. So she took the initiative to take part in KIEP. She is most interested in the educational field and would like to share her talents to help educating children. When she was in Korea, she was already working in the field of child development and education.

A program of various meaningful activities

DIY - mask building

with homestay families

On the second day of their arrival in Nanjing, the Korean girls met local Nanjing people and stayed two and half days in different homestay families. It was a bit difficult for some of the volunteers as the host families did not speak English that well. But they enjoyed to live with the families. They cooked traditional Chinese meals together, visited local tourist sites and made friends.

Volunteers and residents of the Home of the Blessings

At the Home for the Blessings, the three Korean volunteers designed a program for the students. Since 2002 the Amity Home for the Blessings provides humanitarian assistance to people aged between 16 and 40 with special needs and learning difficulties. The program included singing, dancing and drawing. The students enjoyed the interaction with the foreign volunteers.

Korean volunteers playing Majong with elderly residents

Another four days the Korean volunteers were living at the Amity's Home for the Elderly and were following the same schedule as the residences. Many of the beds of Amity's elderly home are reserved for homeless elders and for elders with dementia. The main task of the volunteers was to focus on team building. For them it was challenging to fit into the program. Not only because of the language barrier, but also because most of the elderly people were suffering from different conditions. They played board games with them, did physical activities, sang together in the choir and also read from the Bible.

Teaching children was one of the highlights for the Korean women

For another three weeks, the Korean girls went to Kunshan city, which is located one hour by train from Nanjing. It has a national model community center that is associated with Amity. The community has thousands of residents and each day of the week, the center provides different activities for all kind of different groups. The Korean volunteers took part in calligraphy, Tai Chi, cooking, teaching kids English as well as dancing and singing. They also gave a lecture about the volunteer system in South-Korea.

Nanjing university students interact with Korean volunteers

Furthermore, the Korean volunteers hold some Korean language crash courses to four candidates of the China-Korea Service learning program of 2016. Interacting with people who are speaking a foreign language is the biggest challenge for participants of the exchange program. Additionaly the three Koreans women also participated in activities at the Amity Bakery and at the Amity Children Development Center.

During Amity's 30th Anniversary Celebration the Korean volunteers, jointly with other students and foreign volunteers, participated in the dancing and singing show in front of an audience of 500 guests.

Recording of Amity's 30th anniversary song

Another challenge for the three women was to participate at the First Forum of Youth Philanthropy, Entrepreneurship and Corporate Social Responsibility Innovation in Nanjing. They gave a presentation on their various jobs and experiences with Amity. On the second day they gave a keynote speech on Service Learning with the title: Need and Opportunity.

Amity organized this forum to delight young people to participate in development, planting the seeds of philanthropic engagement and to boost the innovation of corporate and social responsibility.

Volunteers sharing their experiences at the International Youth Forum

The three months went by fast and the Korean volunteers learned, experienced and enjoyed every part of the program happily as well as sometimes frustrated. Thereby they received intense insights of Amity's work and what it means to do social work in China. They received a life-changing experience and challenge, but also influenced all the people they worked with, including our Amity staff. “I met a lot of people in China, including many kids. I hope that my Korean way of thinking and peculiar perspectives will be helpful to them,” said one volunteer. In 2016, four Chinese students will conversely go to Korea.

International volunteering likewise is an challenge and an enrichment for the volunteers and the staff.

For more information on Amity's international exchange programs contact our staff. 

Helen Zhao, Educational Exchange Programs

Tel. (86-25) 8326-0807

helenzhao@amity.org.cn