Every Sunday, a group of volunteers go to Yeouj to teach and mentor some children who escaped from North Korea. You are invited to join us. To do this, please send A) copy of your resume or a bio with the B) Application that we can share with the founder of the school before you help out.
Q: What is the Mulmangcho School?
A: It is a small alternative school for young refugees from North Korea. It was opened in September 2012 by Prof. Park Sun-Young.
Q: What does "Mulmangcho" mean?
A: It means "forget-me-not." Prof. Park says she wants to remind people that we should not forget about North Korean refugees after they have successfully escaped.
Q: I'm a first-timer. I have no idea what I should prepare.
A: First-timers are not expected to lead a class. It would be great if you could prepare a game or activity that can last 15 to 30 minutes. There are usually at least two or three veteran teachers to lead the class or classes, so you might want to join the Facebook group so you can monitor messages during the week and get to know some of the regulars.
A: Getting there:
FROM SEOUL TO YEOJU
Part 1: arrive at the bus station and buy a ticket.
Easy explanation: Go to the old bus terminal (where the Express Bus Terminal subway station meets at subway lines 3, 7 and 9), buy a ticket to Yeoju, go to Platform 23 to catch the bus. Check here for step by step directions.
More difficult, detailed explanation:
From the Express Bus Terminal (meets at subway lines 3, 7, 9) take exit 2.
Take the escalator or walk upstairs. When you get upstairs, you will see Dunkin Donuts immediately. The easiest way is to turn left, walk for about 15 seconds, then take the escalator up.
From there, turn left, walk about another 15 seconds, you will see another Dunkin Donuts. You can (A) wait there for us or (B) walk past the Dunkin Donuts, turn right and walk out the doors. Walk straight, you will walk through a new set of doors, walk straight until you get to the ticket window.
For first-timers sure they will get lost: After you exit from the subway, then contact me. I can meet you at the Dunkin Donuts that is at the top of the stairs. And if I happen to be out the week you are going, then I will make sure there is someone else there to meet you.
Part 2: Get on the bus
After buying the ticket, your next challenge is to get Platform 23, that's where the bus goes to Yeoju.
I don't want to complicate things, but FYI, there is more than one window to buy a ticket. The key is to buy a ticket going to Yeoju, and to get to Platform 23, that's where the bus waves good-bye to Seoul.
Part 3: Arrive at Yeoju bus terminal
The bus ride takes about an hour and 10 minutes, to arrive around 10:30. From the Yeoju bus terminal, wait for the ride to take you to the school to start teaching around 11.
Part 4: Returning
We typically return to the Yeoju bus station to catch the 1:20 bus, returning to Seoul by 2:30.
Q: Wonderful. I can't wait to go there to take a million photos and then post the names of the kids all over the Internet.
A: Whoa, slow down! They are fine with taking photos. But never, ever, ever mention the names of the kids. Some of the young adults have gotten on Facebook, but I still advise caution. Even if someone else happens to mention the name, don't use that as an excuse for you to do so. As I'm sure your mom told you: If everyone else jumped in a river (or off a mountain), would you do the same thing?
WHAT TO EXPECT
Q: Okay, I'm in. What do I do next?
A: Sign up
Sign up and send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm your interest. Please take your RSVP seriously--the van comfortably fits 7, so if you flake out, it could mean that a non-flake could have joined to help out.
Q: Great, the more I hear, the more I love it. This will be a great a chance for me to conduct interviews for my thesis.
A: Ah...please remember to keep the focus on the students and helping them improve their English.
Some of them come from broken homes, some are orphans, some have relatives still trapped in North Korea or other circumstances.
Q: What's the dress code?
A: It is Sunday morning, so we understand that not everyone is ready for a fashion show.
My suggestion: Dress the way your mom would dress you. If that is business casual or business clown, that's fine. During the summer, some teachers wear shorts. In my case, I prefer a tuxedo and top hat, but that's just me.
Be aware: The International Adviser to the school is not photogenic, but he still likes to take a group photo each week.
In summary: There is no dress code, we will almost always allow you to teach, although I may give your mom a call...
Q: Why do you need my resume?
A: It is required of all first-timers. Nothing personal, we have them on hand when the founder of the school asks. A standard resume is fine. If you want to update, it is nice to know about interests or skills of volunteers.
Q: Do I need to give you a local phone number?
A: If you have one, yes. If you have a local phone number, then put that one on your resume. Not an overseas phone number...
Q; This is some great info. Where can I find more?
* Sign-up Sheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AhqQg6X7PsordDJkdURqNUdobFZPVFl6NEFZb1dXb3c#gid=0
* Step-by-Step directions: http://nayacasey.com/2013/06/28/from-seoul-yeoju/
* On the scene report by Alyssa Green: http://theinexhaustiblevariety.blogspot.kr/2014/01/volunteering-at-mulmangcho-school.html
* "Open Door to N. Koreans" http://freedomfactory.co.kr/bbs/bbsDetail.php?cid=liber&wcode=1329&pn=2&idx=3493 (Mulmangcho students had their visas rejected by the U.S. government)
* Video of Mulmangcho students at one year anniversary http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDbTeXpI4yA
* Mulmangcho founder Park Sun-Young profiled in Korea Herald http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20140214000767