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SNU Student-Volunteers In Laos

  • September 6, 2016
  • Hit 8664
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SNU dentists are treating a kid in Laos
SNU dentists are treating a kid in Laos

From August 4 to 10, SNU students participated in SNU’s Institute for Global Social Responsibility (IGSR) Global Volunteers Project in Laos. A total of 36 students from the College of Fine Arts, the School of Dentistry, and the College of Education took part in the program.

Xiangkhouang is a province located approximately nine hours by car from Vientiane, the capital and largest city of Laos. The SNU student-volunteers began their volunteer program at Dok Kham (덕캄), an elementary school of 160 students.

With the support of Lotus World, an international development NGO, Dok Kham, once constructed with wooden boards and planks and unable to withstand strong winds, is now a sturdy concrete edifice of five classrooms each with a whiteboard and 15 two-seater desks.

The student-volunteers from the College of Fine Arts and the College of Education taught classes in science and art, while those from the School of Dentistry taught health classes.

To help overcome the language barrier, members from Lotus World taught the volunteers simple phrases in Lao. Volunteers captured the students’ interests by incorporating more hands-on activities such as coloring and constructing in the classes.

What makes this volunteer program unique is that the students are able to learn three different subjects – Art, Science, and Health – concurrently, as three different colleges of SNU volunteered in the same school.

Professor JEONG Dae Hong (Department of Chemistry Education) explained that this structure reflects a contemporary educational model, which emphasizes breadth and a well-rounded learning experience.

Student-volunteers from the School of Dentistry also performed dental treatments to residents at a health center located 10 minutes away from the elementary school.

Professor HAN Dong-Hun (School of Dentistry) who supervised the dental treatments claimed that the residents have poor dental health because they rarely have access to dental checkups. He added, “Most residents with dentures had received unlicensed surgeries.”

Unlike other volunteer programs in SNU, the Global Volunteer Program in Laos does not offer credits to students. Faced with an incommodious environment without hot water, the student-volunteers from SNU were motivated by their philanthropic spirit to give hope to students in remote areas of the world through education.

A student at the College of Education is teaching Laos children in Xiangkhouang
A student at the College of Education is teaching Laos children in Xiangkhouang

YANG Hee Soo (Department of Global Education Cooperation) expressed that initially, she was worried that they would just be causing more inconvenience because they were only volunteering for a short period. However, after seeing the students enjoy the classes, she felt that the volunteers had had a positive influence on the students’ futures.

CHOI Il Jun (Department of Crafts) shared, “I did not know how students from underdeveloped countries receive education. This experience exposed me to those realities and allowed me to help children from poor surroundings.”

CHANSAMUT Dtan Maitong, the public official for education of this province, emphasized that students who lack educational materials to aid their studies become more eager to go to school and take more interest in their studies after they learn practically using educational tools.

This reveals that the effects of this volunteer program go far beyond the students simply enjoying their classes.

Written by Hye Bin Lee, SNU English Editor, hahahybes@snu.ac.kr
Reviewed by Professor Travis Smith, Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations, tlsmith@snu.ac.kr

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