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Hello Volunteers!

March 27, 2010

I found an interesting opportunity to help out at a nearby hospital through a sort of expat adjustment organization, Seoul Global Center, and got up fairly early this morning to see what would come of it.

I typically pay a visit to the Seoul Global Center website to see what classes they’re offering and occasionally to see if they need English speakers for whatever reason to do something besides corral noisy middle schoolers. Anywho, I saw that Saint Mary’s hospital in Seocho needed help putting together medical kits and visiting young patients and made up my mind to go despite not really knowing anyone.

Turns out that when I got there I met a friend from SMOE orientation as well as a little over a dozen really friendly, funny and upbeat people wanting to help around the hospital. In typical fashion, nothing seemed particularly organized but we were all eventually led down to the basement to sit around a table while a doctor explained to us in Korean what we would be doing. After the first set of instructions, I could only be sure that our project would involve folding some kind of towel and brown paper. After a bit of interpretation, we knew we were preparing something useful with the towels and paper and that they needed to be folded just so. At some point, we were shown how to fold a towel thing in a very particular way. We were shown once then, despite our blank stares, the supervisors handed us stacks of towels and waited for us to finish. Luckily, the technique was perfected with some trial and error and we were on our way.

Oh, we got some aprons and hair net caps…and only just after starting our projects were we told to wash our hands. Gah.

It was pretty amazing, the people that were in our group. Before my SMOE friend, Helen, showed up I met three Indonesian women who were studying in Seoul for a Masters program. They all looked very cute in their aprons and caps! The woman who sat next to me, Cristina, currently runs a division of the Global Center that sets up various events in the way of cultural and language classes in my area. Now, I can’t be sure but I think that she was a guest on one of my favorite Korean talk shows, Global Talk Show (chatting with the beauties section) and I’m basing this on the fact that both people are Italian, speak a unique brand of impeccable Korean and are named Cristina – this might be more than just a hunch. I’ll probably always remember that she’s from Milan, is just as sweet as can be, and cannot do the fold with the towel with a hole in it (to be fair, it was a bizarre fold)

The whole time, people were laughing and talking and carrying on…and something that seemed to turn into a towel folding/wrapping competition; stacks of piles of towels turned into neatly wrapped and tied packages that filled box after box. The time there felt productive..I don’t really know, but I felt pretty worthy of the juice box, hat, and small wallet I was given at the end of my time at the hospital.

Suddenly it seemed, we were done and whisked out of the basement to an elevator then a space in front of a statue of St. Mary to take a group photo that will undoubtedly grace some fantastic volunteer brochure someday.

All in all, good people, good times. Would definitely do it again.

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