Volunteering at an Autistic Centre

Working in Korea has provided me with more free time than I have ever had. Prior to this, I was a student working part time, and then a cashier at a supermarket trying to work every hour I could get my hands on in order to save for my big move to Korea. I now work less than 7 hours a day, and each day is peppered with breaks. There’s something very luxurious about this lifestyle, it’s almost too good to be true.

The abundance of leisure time encouraged me to do something beneficial instead of watching endless Netflix series in my comfy clothes. A few foreigners volunteer for 2 hours on a Saturday morning at a local centre for autistic children, so I decided to give it a go. I was a bit apprehensive about the whole affair, because I have no experience with children outside of the school system. However, I had no need to be, as it was a really gratifying couple of hours.

The children at the centre don’t speak any English, which is actually a daunting concept. However, our lack of verbal communication has reminded me of how little needs to be said in order to understand one another. In the crafts classes I generally show them a picture of what they’re going to make, and they run with it. They’re creative, more so than the majority of the students that I teach on a week day, and they produce some impressive work.

It feels much more rewarding than working in a hagwon. The kids are so energetic, loving and appreciative; characteristics that you don’t see in a student after they’ve been studying for 10 hours. I actually don’t know how beneficial I am to their life, but they sure do brighten up my week.

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