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International Students Volunteer for Talent-Donation

25 Jun, 2019 KDIS News Center 2,994

The first time I went to teach a primary class in a school in Sejong, I was overwhelmed by the response, interest, and student’s level of engagement throughout my lecture. My initial expectations were different. In addition to that, my prior conception of donation was also limited to just the idea of material contribution. However, thanks to KDI School and Sejong City Hall, this experience made me displace those old notions and helped me realize the impact and significance of donating time, skill, and effort. This recent phenomena of talent donation is deemed as an act of contributing back to society that is more meaningful in sense that it bridges the gap between the participant and the community. This allows the donor to identify himself as part of the social fabric of the society that he lives in.

KDI School, being part of Sejong community, understands its role and stands as the torchbearer among its peers in imparting the values required for an inclusive society. The Talent Donation program is one of many steps; KDI School is taking in collaboration with the Sejong City Hall to foster the global perspective of Sejong city residents. The program comprises of a series of lectures delivered at different schools in Sejong city by the KDI School students. This program enables the students to represent their country in terms of its culture, heritage, music, food, and geography. Since its inception three years ago, one hundred and eighty one students representing seventy five countries have visited multiple schools delivering lectures under this initiative. Through this program, these ‘time and effort’ donors are able to showcase their part of the world to the residents of their new home and at the same time remove any sense of alienation that theses inhabitants usually draw from the new environment.

Providing an opportunity of such sort helps assimilate the new dwellers and allows them to feel connected to their environment and also provides them with an opportunity to indulge in the process of participatory learning. Although on the face of it, the mode of instruction is dominated by deliverance of the content; however, both the students and instructor invariably inculcate the meaning of sharing in the sense of knowledge during the lecture. This personal experience altered my sense of learning about sharing within the ambit of donation or volunteerism. It also helped me redefine my concept of sharing knowledge and skill with the community that was limited in terms of materials only. Thus, a set of new avenues of co-identification has been tailored not only between me and the students, but also indirectly between my country Pakistan and Korea.

Through this program I was able to better portray my country and show its hidden and real face as the media biases have tainted the overall image of my country. Even though I harbored these misconceptions, I felt honored that in one of the schools, the administration ordered Pakistani food so that their students can have a taste of it. This kind gesture further strengthened my belief that no matter how diverse the society may be, the notions of kindness, sharing, and respect remain at the core of an inclusive and resilient society. I believe that volunteerism and donation of time, skill, and knowledge are the most effective, efficient, and inclusive way to achieve this belief and help society reject the notions of hatred based on erroneous ideologies.

One of the core traits of a vibrant society is its ability to be dynamic in its exchange with outsiders. This trait is learned by its citizens in its schools and universities. Therefore, provision of spaces for its residents to practice donation or volunteerism is a mandatory step towards a peaceful future. I highly recommend that the international students of the KDI School avail this opportunity for a better understanding of self and society.

By Anees Abbas (2018 MPP, Pakistan)