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Philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato pointed out that education is central to the moral fulfilment of individuals and the well-being of the society in which they live. Regarding this idea, I returned to Korea wanting to make a meaningful impact in my hometown in the summer after my sophomore year. Having volunteered for assisting the disabled with my parents ever since I was young, I sought an institution so I could continue to serve those with disabilities. Thankfully, the managers of the institution welcomed me with warmth and gave me a very meaningful job: to assist kids with intellectual disabilities and teach them English.
Once I heard about the tasks being both an assistant and a teacher, two intertwining emotions-excitement and concern-pumped adrenaline over all the membranes of my body. Being so young and more so ever inexperienced, I was not sure if I could be a good assistant and teacher. Nevertheless, I pushed away my doubt and decided to believe in myself and to give my best effort. On the first day of volunteering, I was very surprised by how well the kids followed my instructions. Since most of them never had an English class before, my lessons solely focused on basic concepts, such as the alphabet, and simple words, like “apple” and “car.”
I thought that the kids would get bored during my lesson, but their passion and enthusiasm for learning the new materials proved me wrong as I saw their willingness to learn the new language as time passed. My initial goal as their English teacher was to make them translate elemental sentences but by the end of that summer, they were able to create sentence of their own. I still remember their limpid eyes looking upon me with full of excitement to learn new materials very vividly. I particularly remember this one kid named Jong Su, who were only about 11 years old when I first met him. Although he had an inborn intellectual disability and was a slower learner than most of the students at the institution, he was one of the few kids who had the most dazzling energy; he participated my lessons so well and always volunteered to answer my questions.
The entire institution had so much fun every day. I am so glad that I chose to step out of my comfort zone to volunteer at this institution during my summer break. My experience as an English teacher and teaching assistant was invaluable not only for the children, but for me as well. Most importantly, looking back at the past, now I am so grateful that I got to share my knowledge with others even if it was only temporary. Just as Aristotle and Plato said that education is essential to the moral fulfillment of individuals and well-being of the society, I also strongly believe that every child, despite their disability, with an adequate education will provide a better future for their families and countries and that he or she has the power to make the world a better place. My service as a teacher and an assistant at the institution influenced the children positively not only on their future but also their community afterward. Even the effects of my basic English education will quickly multiply, as children themselves strive to secure even better opportunities for their own families and share their knowledge with other non educated members of their families and community. I made my community a better place through education which builds children’s confidence and cohesiveness. My students will certainly be inclined to invest in improving their own communities when they become adults.
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