Harvesting Friendship at the Seoul Forest

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Seoul Forest Members

Hello, everyone. Already one and a half months have passed since the start of the semester. Autumn is the season of harvesting. How are you preparing for Thanksgiving this year? For my case, I have decided to be a real farmer! Some of you may think it is impossible to even find soil in such an urban area. I have been experiencing farming by participating in a volunteering program called Dong-gu bat (동구밭).

동구밭(Dong-gu bat) or Farm Playground is a social venture in education and social welfare sector. The goal of Donggubat is to help those who are intellectually disabled learn sociability by becoming friends with no disabilities. Farming is a medium which connects them together.

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On the first day at our garden with nothing planted.

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Finally off to a start!

 

Personally, the reason I decided to join the program was that I had wanted to practice volunteering. I had some volunteer experiences in the past, but they are all temporary one-day programs. Also, I have quite long been interested in meeting handicapped people. Then I looked for a program where I could volunteer for a longer period, especially in a sector related to welfare for the handicapped. Then I met Donggubat!

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with my friend, Hanna

 

Every Saturdays from 9:30am to 12:30pm is when Donggubat members have a class. There are several farming places around the city, and the place where I am participating is in Seoul Forest (서울숲). There is a street in front of the park where container buildings are stacked up artistically, selling designer-made goods and food. Our farm is on the rooftop of a building called Understand Avenue.

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 Indoor activities

In Seoul Forest, About 20 members are attending. Each non-handicapped member becomes a mentor of one handicapped member, and the pair receives one rectangle-shaped pot where they are going to grow vegetables. One member who have been selected as the organizer runs each day’s program, telling us what to do. All members are called “Jigi “(지기), meaning plowman. The program consists of both indoor and outdoor activities. Inside, we use a textbook and have a class on farming, seasonal events and social life. Outside, we plant seedlings, water them and spray pesticides. So far, our farm has planted cabbage, green and red lettuce, radish, chicory, green onions and cucumbers! When vegetables grow enough to harvest, we take them home for dinner J Last time, we made Bibimbap with lettuce grown in our garden!

Besides farming, we have done other outdoor activities. One day, we went out to see the nature of the forest. We had Jajangmyun (짜장면) for lunch together on the other day.

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making bibimbap (비빔밥)

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picnic day in Seoul Forest

 

I joined the program in August, and so far, I am very satisfied with it. All our members, both mentors and mentees, have very energetic and welcoming personalities. It was never boring to be with those wonderful people. I have learned that handicapped people are not much different from the non-handicapped. They need just a little more attention from this society. It may sound hard to wake up early and work on the farm on Saturdays, but I feel alive during the moment I am at Donggubat. I have a positive expectation on the company’s vision, the programs it offers and potentiality.

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 harvesting is the climax of this program!

Donggubat organizes two seasons each year, spring and autumn. All the programs are taught in Korean. Students can join this program through volunteering to be a mentor Jigi (지기). Also, the company is in partnership with HYU Social Volunteer Corps (한양대학교 사회봉사단), so you can receive one credit for social volunteering course or VMS hours if register through university.

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our garden at last!

 

If you do not speak Korean, but still wish to be the part of Donggubat, you can purchase organic soaps made of plants grown in its garden. Your money will be saved toward promoting employment of the disabled and expansion of such programs.

Official website: donggubat.com

Office phone number: 070-4282-9626.

 

Article by Sangeun from Korea, a Junior in Business Administration

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