Giving back to the community is one thing that I truly support, no matter where I am in the world. Being in Korea is no different with a handful of volunteer opportunities around. One of the most popular things to do in Korea is to volunteer to teach English. There are a handful of opportunities all around Seoul to teach children and adults, but branching out from these is something that I've been searching for. The search was finally over when I found PLUR, a volunteer group that works every Sunday at a soup kitchen.
With just a limited number of helpers needed every week, it's was important to jump on the opportunity as soon as I could. In order to be invited to events, you must first request to be a part of the Facebook group. Luckily, I was able to reserve a spot (they sure were quick to go). The soup kitchen serves roughly 150 people every week, but this experience is something that I will never forget.
The journey starters as I met with the group at the train station. Walking to a local spot that was just around the corner, there were people lined up as we walked in. When I say people, I mean fifty men at the very least, just waiting for us to open the doors. It was a bit of a shock to me to see so many people waiting in line since this was the first soup kitchen I've ever volunteered at. This soup kitchen just looked like a regular dining hall to me with seating upon entrance and a small kitchen to the right.
After being lead into a back room, we all got suited up with gloves, aprons, pinned and tied our hairs back. With my heart pounding, I was given the directions that I would be handing the soup to each person, the last one to go so there was no way I could've messed up with that, even if my Korean was horrible. Within a few minutes, we were putting on our rubber boots and lead into the kitchen where I stood in front of a fan waiting to start.
It wasn't too long until the line of men started to pour in and grab their food. Yes, the line of men. There were no women, no children, just men in their thirties and up. Some who looked like they haven't had a decent meal, but most who looked like regular civilians to me. Why such a culture shock? There were people on line with cell phones and in a culture where male are dominant, where are all the women who need the help? There are just some thing I will probably never understand.
Nonetheless the experience was one of its own. I expected to meet rude people that were cranky for their food. Luckily, I did not and even met a few who politely said thank you to me. It was a great experience and I would definitely do it again, that or something more.
The serving time went by so quickly that it was time to clean up and wipe down before I knew it. The one thing I did not look forward to was taking out the garbage and I'm grateful I didn't have to do so. I do admit that it was a photo friendly picture that captured the moment and unforgettable experience. It is something I recommend that everyone tries once in their life, especially with this crazy bunch of volunteers that made this experience memorable.