Our time is called ‘the time of loss’. It is because we are losing many things that we had before. One of those is the spirit of mutual help. Our ancestors had the good custom of helping each other.
But for us living in our time, it is not often that we get to know somebody who is even living next door. In the modern society the relations among neighbors are collapsing like this. What we really need is an effort to make our society a better place to live in together. And this might be the reason that supports the importance of volunteering.
On May 13, I participated as a volunteer in the ‘Walking for Women’ event sponsored by the women’s movement organization called ‘Min-u hoi’. The intention of that event was to give people the chance to think about the meaning of women’s movement while they were walking along the path of Nam mountain(Namsan).
My task was to set up equipment and to direct people along the path. The reason I decided to participate in that event was that I became interested in the women’s movement in our society while taking a class about it at this semester. I imagined that volunteering in that event might be a good experience for me to get access to new things that I did not know about before.
But I was surprised when I found there were not many volunteers who applied for this activity. In response to that, one Min-u hoi personnel said, ‘At least it is more than we expected, and we are thankful for that.’ It seemed to me that what he said pointed out the individualistic tendencies inherent in our university culture. Of course, students might have no interest or time in participating in this event.
But doesn’t the fact that the university students are indifferent to volunteering mean they are losing something they could have gained? I am worried that the spirit of sacrifice is disappearing in our university culture. Then, why are students hesitating to participate in voluntary activities?
I think one of the reasons is that the individualistic trend has now spread all over our society, and the fact that we, university students, are not fully aware of the importance of participating in society could be blamed too. University is the place not only for seeking and creating truth, but also for delivering the truth to the society. That is to say, the truth sought in university should be spread back to the society.
Through this course, the knowledge of university could be verified in the real situations while we create new knowledge too. Besides, voluntary activity in itself has educational character. By volunteering, we could learn the consideration for the society to which we belong.
We could also learn the realities of our local community and could form our own views as participating citizens. Then how can we encourage the university students to volunteer? I suppose the answers could be found in two aspects: the individual aspect and the social aspect.
First of all, we the university students should understand our duty of social participation and practice it in our lives. And a new system is needed that will motivate students to participate in voluntary activities.
How about introducing a credit system that gives credits to the student who volunteered in public service? Or letting the students include volunteer experiences in their careers could be a good way to motivate them. It was a valuable experience for me to volunteer in this event.
I could learn the ability to endure physical pains and the humble truth that we should live together with others. When the chances are given to me again, I want to participate in a variety of voluntary activities, in hopes that just one drop of water could be gone without a trace, but continuing drops of water would make a river and a sea.