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When Ability Becomes TalentDaoom English Library Volunteer
Written by 임다경 Im Dakyoung | Published. 2018.07.15 12:57 | Count : 596

In the 21st Century, people are overwhelmed with tight schedules and pressing workload. Especially with the growing competition for jobs and education in Korea, we suffer from competition in our daily lives. It is normal to squeeze in on an overcrowded bus or subway every morning to get to work. Students rush to and from school to private education. Living every day to meet up to standards, we seldom feel free enough to look around us.

Most people are aware that many people in our society need a helping hand. From those unprivileged to those discriminated, these people often urgently need help in order to live a normal life. As much as we sympathize with these cases, we are unable to volunteer to help because we lack the time, skills or resources. The ability to help in these cases can be said to be ‘special’.

[According to a survey on 21 students of Daewang Middle School, 70% replied volunteering to help others without a special talent is not possible. Photo courtesy of student reporter Im Dakyoung]

On the other hand, many people fail to realize that there are also those around us who just need a little help to lead a better quality of life. The ability to help in these cases is rather ‘common’. One example can be participating to teach in ‘Smartphone lessons for the elderly’. Most elderly people tend to lack technological skills because electronic devices are something new for them. They find smart phones and other new technologies unfriendly and difficult. However, students, being a savvy consumer of technology, are used to these devices. By sharing these common skills to those who want them, our ‘common’ ability has become a ‘special’ talent--something that the elderly longed to learn. 

These volunteering activities give us a chance to make our ability a talent. Through these activities, we can not only give help to those who need it but also feel a unique sense of joy and achievement that comes from helping others.

[Daoom English Library, situated in Daecheong station of subway line 3. Photo courtesy of student reporter Im Dakyoung]

One example is the Buddy Reading program in Daoom English Library. Volunteers use their English skills to help little children improve their English skills. They read and translate English story books to children aging from five to ten. Although their main role is to translate the storyline, volunteers often focus on reading the story book in an exciting manner so that the children remain engaged in the story.

[The library is always full of enthusiastic learners and volunteers after school. Photo courtesy of Daoom English Library]

I have interviewed a volunteer and a child participating in the program, as well as the supervisor there.

Interview with Daoom English supervisor

Q. What kind of attitude do you think volunteers should have for this program?
A. “I believe love for children overrides everything else.”

Q. Do student volunteers need to have a special talent for English in order to help out?
A. “Of course not. I think the ability to understand and feel with children is more important than fantastic English pronunciation and so on (grins).”

[Cozy and comfortable atmosphere just right for story time. Photo courtesy of student reporter Im Dakyoung]

Interview with a student volunteer

Q. How did you get to start volunteering here?
A. “I was looking for a volunteer activity where I can really help others and share my capacity and I came across this wonderful one. It is my third time here. I am not really good at English and it isn’t exactly my cup of tea, but it was good enough to share and help.”

Q. When do you feel most rewarded?
A. “It feels the best when children tell me that they had fun reading the book.”

Q.  Do student volunteers need to have a special talent for English in order to help out?
A. “I don’t think so. I think it just needs to be better than these kids, who just finished abcs. (laughs) Personally, I felt that it is more important to make children enjoy reading the book and keep them interested throughout the session rather than perfectly translating the sentences with perfect English. At first, I also focused on reading and translating, but the children got bored really fast. I learnt that fun storytelling is important!”

[A child at Daoom Library and student reporter, Im Dakyoung, reading a book together. Photo courtesy of student reporter Im Dakyoung]

Interview with Daoom Library’s ‘regular customer’ 

Q. Do you like sisters and brothers coming here to read books for you?
A. “I love them. It is fun.”

Q. Can you tell me a time when you had a lot of fun here?
A. “It was when I got to play bingo game after reading the books.”

People’s responses clearly show that, special English skills were not needed. English learned in school was more than enough to improve children’s English skills and give them a whale of a time. We do not need special talents such as being able to sing or dance in order to share and volunteer. Sparing your time with a caring mind is just enough.

It is once again the time of the year when it gets hotter day by day. Why don’t we look around our community and find someone who needs our ‘common’ ability as ‘special’ talent? It will sure be cooling when you experience that unique sense of achievement after volunteering.




임다경 Im Dakyoung
Grade 9
Seoul Daewang Middle School

임다경 Im Dakyoung  student_reporter@dherald.com

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