HOPE - English Teachers Giving Something Back

by Florian Fafelberger, 19/06/2010


Take a trip to another part of the world and you will find that many travelers communicate through English. For a native speaker who only speaks English, it might be a little unnerving to wonder how one’s world would change if the common language of business was Mandarin or even Korean.  In many cases, the necessity to learn another language, specifically English, is the reality for many Korean students.

It is difficult to ignore the booming market for English education in Korea. Korea is a audemars piguet replica watches breeding ground for cram schools, private lessons and everything English related. However, English education in Korea comes with a costly price tag. Each year, Koreans spend thousands of dollars educating themselves and their children. This, of course, is not a problem for those who can afford to compete in this fierce boxing ring. Unfortunately there are many children whose families cannot afford the high cost of English education, leaving many Koreans at a disadvantage.

Seeing exponential growth in demand for English education coupled with a desire to help, Helping Others Prosper through English (HOPE) was born. HOPE’s founding members have each encountered walls rather than doors when looking to volunteer in Korea. They, like many other foreigners, expressed an interest in wanting to help and give back to Korean society, but did not know where to begin. Looking for solutions, Philip Lozano, Maria Salken, and Sylvia Soo joined forces with Korean counterparts John Baek, Ally Lee, and Cathy Han. They formed an organization to fulfill a need they felt was not being met in Seoul, Korea.

HOPE is a non-profit organization comprised of members and volunteers who share a common vision: to provide a free, safe and accessible place for under-privileged children to develop their English skills; and to provide an organization for foreigners who wish to volunteer.  The volunteers are passionate individuals who want to experience a life-enriching opportunity by dedicating their time to a worthwhile cause.

HOPE volunteers teach at HOPE’s Partner Host Centers.  These centers are non-profit organizations that have similar interests in helping underprivileged children. Orphanages, community centers offering services to families on welfare, and schools are the main partners of HOPE.  By forming a partnership with HOPE, Host Centers provide classroom space, designate times for English classes and screen potential students to meet HOPE requirements. Volunteers only have to volunteer their time, and host centers a space.

HOPE’s vision is undoubtedly rooted with good intentions. Members, partner centers and volunteers are optimistic about its future, but its future is certainly not guaranteed. HOPE’s foundation is solid, but for how long? Its members and volunteers will eventually leave Korea to return home, but will they have enough volunteer support to survive? HOPE can grow and flourish by continually helping more and more children throughout Korea, but only with an on-going commitment from volunteers and Host Centers.

Whether HOPE can withstand the transient nature of life in Korea remains to be seen, but it is this author’s ardent wish that others, specifically you, will pass the torch by carrying on the vision that education should be universal.

Please contact HOPE at www.alwayshope.or.kr

K4E Note: we have been informed that volunteers are required to have had a criminal check, so volunteering with H.O.P.E. may be limited to E2 visa holders.
June 2010: We are re-posting this article as H.O.P.E. is one of the 2 organisations receiving proceeds from the Canada Day/Independence BBQ Cruise on 3 July. The donation to H.O.P.E. was suggested by the Canadian Women's Club.

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