The employment rate for people with disabilities is only around 36%, and things are even worse for Korea’s blind population, with its employment rate of 8.1%. Even when they do manage to join the workforce, they are often soon replaced by people without disabilities. Is it possible to create a job environment where disabilities become an asset, not a liability?
A small group of young entrepreneurs in SNU has created a business platform, Bom Genuel, where disabilities, often thought of as an obstacle, become strengths. Bom Genuel has teamed up with professional counselors to offer employment opportunities for blind people to serve as maeumbodeumsa (heart-soothers). Prospective maeumbodeumsas are trained in the art of listening, developing their abilities to sympathize and give helpful feedback. Visitors enter a dark room, where a maeumbodeumsa welcomes them and invites them to share their stories. In the darkness, the maeumbodeumsa’s lack of eyesight becomes his or her strength, and the darkness offers freedom for visitors to open up and share their deep inner feelings.
“Our maeumbodeumsas tell us that it makes them feel proud to give back to the community upon whom they have relied so much during their lives. It is always a rewarding experience for us to see our counselors build up their self-esteem by participating in our venture,” said Kim Seunghwan (Department of Social Welfare), one of the founding members of Bom Genuel.
Bom Genuel is an initiative by Enactus SNU, one of the student organizations in the College of Business. Enactus is a global non-profit student organization dedicated to using the power of entrepreneurial action for the greater good. Made up of students from various majors, Bom Genuel is a joint effort by SNU students to make this world a better place.
* Bom Genuel, literally translated into English, means “Spring-Shade.” It means that the venture aims to bring spring sunshine to illuminate the darker corners of life.
Written by Chae Hyun Kim, SNU English Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: 서울대 사람들
Reviewed by Professor Travis Smith, Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations, email@example.com