Cleaning up Hongjecheon Riverside

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Today, let me tell you about a specific volunteering activity which was part of the Global Friendship Program we already told you about. 😉
At the end of this April, my team and I joined the Myongji University Volunteering team for a clean-up activity. The team usually cleans up the campus and surrounding areas every week, but once a month they walk all the way to the Hongjecheon stream and pick up trash along the way. We joined them on this sunny Wednesday afternoon to help clean up the beautiful nature around the stream.

A surprisingly big group of people was waiting for us to hand us our official volunteer vests and the Green Campus initiative team also joined us for the clean-up. While walking to Hongjecheon and cleaning up the streets, my teammate Joy talked about how campus clean-up was used as a penalty back in her high-school for students who misbehaved. In my old high-school, students were also assigned clean-up duty, but not as a penalty but rather to learn to take responsibility and care for the shared environment of our school campus. So while we had different previous experiences with cleaning off trash from the street, we really enjoyed giving something back to the community by helping making the area cleaner and prettier. The other members of the volunteering team were extremely nice and talked to us in a mixture of Korean and English which made the experience even more enjoyable.

When we arrived at Hongjecheon we were astonished by how clean it already was. Korean people really keep their environment clean and are respectful to other people who use the same surroundings. However, we still did our best to pick up even the smallest trash to contribute something to the activity. And our work really did pay off – we were stopped several times by elderly ladies and gentleman who thanks us for our work and complimented us for being young people who do something valuable for their community. When we told them that we were Myongji students, they all replied with “Oh yes, Myongji students are very thoughtful and hardworking!” Getting this amazing feedback from them definitely was the nicest part of our day and I’ll be sure to keep in mind how much their happiness meant to me.

Time was just flying past while we were cleaning up, so it felt like only minutes when we had to head back to our campus. I would have loved to clean up even more, but fortunately there is always next time where we can join again. I’m really thankful to the volunteering team, who let us join in their meaningful activity and to my Global Friendship Team “ENJOY” who took part in this memorable activity with me. I’m already looking forward to the next sunny Wednesday where we can help make our community shine a little bit brighter.1462200666048

(Elena Kubitzki)

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