I've been very lucky in my life. I've been blessed with many great opportunities and surrounded by people who support me and encourage me but I am very aware of the fact that not everyone is in the same situation as me. Considering this, personally, I think it's very important that I spend time working with and helping others who are not as fortunate as me. In the same way that opportunities have been given to me, I want to pass them on to others so I volunteer a lot.
In England, I work with the elderly a lot and I also work as a volunteer tutor helping under performing students. My passion for volunteering doesn't just stop because I go abroad. I volunteered quite a bit in China during my year abroad and since I'm in Seoul for a few months, I was keen to sign up here too.
I started volunteering yesterday in an orphanage in west of Seoul. I'm not going to lie - it was a challenge. There is no doubt that the care-givers at the orphanage are phenomenal people but there are simply not enough of them to provide the individual attention each child needs. Some of the children are badly behaved - they glare at you as if to say "Are you just going to leave as well?" but others cling to you, craving warmth and affection even if just for a few hours.
It may have been a challenge but it was a hugely rewarding one. Other volunteers and myself spent a portion of the afternoon teaching English either 1-on-1 or in small groups and the rest of it was spent playing with the kids. We played football, we played tag, we played rock, paper, scissors, we played in the sandpit ...we just ran around and had fun.
As it came time for us to leave, the smiles disappeared from their faces and you could see them wonder if we'd actually be coming back. Well, for as long as I'm in Seoul, I'll be going back!