Program or Partner
Presbyterian Church of Korea (PCK) and Hannam University
The most striking aspect of community life in Korea you will meet on your arrival here will be the extreme hospitality. Koreans have a long historied culture of going to great lengths to care for guests. Life in Korea provides a humbling lesson in love for neighbor for all that YAVs receive during their time with us here. Beyond this, you will experience a land of plural religions where 24% identify as Buddhist, 31% identify as Christian (24%-Protestant 7%-Catholic), and 43% claim no affiliation. So too, you will find numerous ways in which the Korean church chooses to engage a pluralist society.
Rapid economic development has provided both striking wealth and immense poverty. YAV site partners help us to consider the cost to human rights and dignity of unbridled neo-liberal capitalism and help develop relationships with the minjung of Korea (downtrodden, marginalized, suffering, etc.). Minjung theologians remind us that God calls us to recognize how those less privileged than ourselves can be the face of Christ for us, a source of theology, and our salvation, rather than merely recipients of the charity of the more wealthy.
Recent Korean history has been dominated by several decades of Japanese Occupation, subsequent division at the hands of Soviet and US forces, the Korean War, and continued division and conflict between competing capitalist and communist systems. YAVs will meet Koreans following God’s call for reconciliation here, building bridges across the border, cultivating relationships with Christians in the North, and calling on the major governments to fulfill their responsibility in taking the steps necessary to end hostility and work toward peaceful reconciliation and possible reunification.
YAVs will work in Neighborhood Children Centers with youth aged around 7 to 13 or so, building relationships in an after school program. As these are families that cannot afford the usual extra-curricular educational institutes, YAVs will facilitate group games, activities with art, English language, and more. One site includes a youth orchestra program, a favorite of musically gifted YAVs. We hope to soon add an option including populations of immigrant workers and immigrant mothers trying to survive in Korea. Here and there, we also try to provide communications support for the No Gun Ri Peace Park (Korean War Memorial). All YAVs also volunteer together once a week at a kind of soup kitchen that connects to the homeless and hungry populations around Daejeon train station. We offer a very special Buddy Program where Hannam University students volunteer alongside you assisting in communication, translation, and emphasizing that we work in cooperation with Koreans and not over or at them.
Housing and intentional community
YAVs live in preserved houses that used to be homes for missionaries 50 years ago, newly renovated. You will be very close to your site coordinators, and we all live on Hannam University Campus, our site’s host. We practice intentional Christian community and we will learn about respectful conflict resolution that not only cultivates health relationships with your roommates but in all potential community conflicts. We meet together once a week for reflection or for issue discussions around Korea faith life, history, culture, etc. We take short retreats once a month around the country and week-long retreats four times a year.
YAVs will take a beginner Korean language class at Hannam University during the fall in order to facilitate relationship building and communication with partners here. We do not expect you to have previous Korean language experience, but we do strongly advise you to learn some basics the summer before you arrive.
Hannam University will also provide students with some English capacity to serve as “Buddies” with the YAVs at their placement sites. They will help facilitate communication and translation between youth and staff of the Children’s Centers.
Education: undergraduate college degree before entering Korea (before YAV orientation).
Must be willing to learn another language. Must be flexible. Must be an open eater.
Hyeyoung Lee and Kurt Esslinger