Although school children in Korea’s cities usually have opportunities to interact with people from other countries out in public or in their schools or language academy, in the countryside or more ‘isolated’ areas of Korea, that is not always the case. For many of these children, their only perceptions of ‘Westerners’ was from television or movies, or from the negative things they heard about them, especially during the Asian economic crisis, referred to here as the ‘IMF Crisis’.
Hello Friends was created to address this situation and almost 10 years later, it continues to offer Korean children in country schools the chance to meet and interact with ‘real’ foreigners while having some fun with English. But it’s not just a one way street. Hello Friends is a way for expats to meet some ‘real’ Koreans, visit out-of the-way areas of the country and have a good time.
Hello Friends, sponsored by AMCHAM (American Chamber of Commerce Korea) and supported by the American Women's Club (AWC0, sends volunteers to visit schools throughout Korea and introduce English to young schoolchildren. It is, however, an outreach program and is not intended as an English Teaching course. All the costs of Hello Friends trips are covered by the organization and although they very much appreciate those who can give long term commitments, it is possible to participate on an occasional basis.
Volunteering with Hello Friends has given many of us the opportunity to visit parts of Korea we would not likely have seen otherwise and to interact with Koreans - adults and children - who do not have a lot of experience with people from other countries. On a trip, I made the volunteers were from 6 different countries, and although we all spoke English, that wasn't our first language. The children found that fascinating. The trips are a combination of fun work and sightseeing. Hello Friends is truly a worthwhile experience.
Hello Friends will be holding an Information Session on Friday morning 20 March 2009 in the Paris Grill of the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Seoul. For more information on the session and on the Spring Hello Friends schedule, see the Korea4Expats What’s Going On section here. If you are interested in attending the information session or in volunteering, contact the Hello Friends Chair at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re interested in other volunteer opportunities, click here.
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