So Jung Lee, Class of 2019
So Jung Lee, a TCIS senior, was recently named one of Korea’s top youth volunteers of the year at the 2018 Korea Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, with 2 million Korean won in awards from Korea’s Ministry of Health and Welfare. In addition, she will be traveling to Washington, D.C., in early April 2019, representing Korea at the international summit.
So Jung is the president of the UNICEF Club, Cooking Club, as well as Golden Time (Medical Club) at TCIS, which she founded. Outside of school, she is also the president of “With You” and “Together,” both of which she established.
TCIS is very proud of So Jung's work as it emboddies what we work so hard to do at TCIS: to see students encouraged to consider other people and that they be equipped to meet large goals with diligence and quality work.
Congratulations So Jung and keep up the good work!
So Jung with the collection of awards that she received in connection with her Spirit of Community project.
Prudential's Spirit of Community Awards Director, Mr. Kim Kyung Wook, presents an award to So Jung Lee and TCIS Head of School, Dr. Thomas Penland.
So Jung's Story
The following is a portion of the abstract from So Jung’s volunteer project, which was presented to the 2018 Korea Prudential Spirit of Community Awards assembly.
As I saw my family members carrying out service activities, I became familiar with giving back at a young age. In elementary school, I followed them to the service centers they visited. At first this was just for fun; however, I later realized how much help those centers needed. All the volunteers influenced me a great deal as they were willing to give up their free time to serve without expecting anything in return.
In high school, I founded and led multiple service-oriented clubs to broaden my areas of service and share the meaning of serving others. Since I want to establish my own service-focused non-governmental organization (NGO), I have focused on my passion by planning, preparing, and participating in the activities myself. What sets me apart is that I create opportunities based on feedback from or conversations with centers.
First, I planned multiple service programs and gave donations to the local Multi-cultural Children’s Home. After hearing immigrants’ stories of hardship, I became very passionate about helping them, which led me to start the First Aid Kit Donation Project for children in developing countries. Then, at the Agape Medical Center for Foreigners, I held free bazaar and Christmas events. After working at the center for over 4 years, I produced the Medical Translation Guidebook to reduce the language barriers when treating patients. When completed, the guidebook was donated to many medical centers throughout South Korea.
I was also very excited about the First Aid Kit Donation Project for children in developing countries. Initially, I used my own money to stock the first-aid boxes. After making 50 boxes myself, I donated them to the Single-parent Family Daycare Center in Kolkata, India.
Afterward, I expanded by engaging two service activities-oriented clubs: “With You” and “Together.” While working with them, “With You” was selected as the Korean Council of Children’s Organizations’ “National Children’s Rights Advocate Club” and “Together” was chosen as the Korean YWCA WeCan Center’s supported club. With their financial aid, “With You” carried out programs for first-aid boxes for children in developing countries, while “Together” held cooking classes for multi-cultural children. To gain even more help, I also contacted and visited local churches, pharmacies, hospitals, and medical centers. Furthermore, as a founder and president of “Together,” I planned and continued other activities for the foreign laborers.
Throughout these successes, I learned how much service activities rely on collaboration. When I was working alone, everything depended on me. However, in a group setting, I constantly had to ask for assent, wait for responses, and be patient when others did not follow through. At first, I was disappointed, but then I was able to encourage and motivate others to realize our goals.
[Top] First aid kit delivery to families in Turkana, Kenya. [Middle] So Jung and friends translate and assemble medical packets for delivery to developing countries overseas. [Bottom] So Jung personally delivers first aid boxes to a school in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Outcomes and Impact
Looking back, I brought about changes and accomplished much more than expected. After two of the public serviceoriented clubs received support, I was particularly encouraged to plan and execute programs for “Together.” The honor also led to greater support from organizations and people around us.
The major endeavor “With You” carried out was the First Aid Kit Donation Project. It started with 11 members from 8 schools. Then, it progressed by recruiting 20 student-led clubs from the WeCan Center and 30 other clubs from the National Children’s Rights Advocate Club. I also engaged with a number of local groups to raise awareness and ask for help. Finally, I contacted large pharmaceutical companies, two of which donated medicines. As a result, we sent more than 500 first-aid boxes to 4 countries. I was particularly touched by a “thank you” letter for our gift of life from a primary school principal in Kenya whose three sons had died from malaria.
Though I was unsure of service activities initially, I am now confident that together we can accomplish anything. At first, I wanted to challenge myself and others to create change and contribute to the community. As more groups joined us, I felt like we were making a better world.
What I Learned
Before my service activities, I was very introverted and lacked confidence. However, as I became more interested in and passionate about service activities, I started to have a dream. As I created and led multiple clubs, I gained leadership and time-management skills. Moreover, I met a wide variety of individuals with new perspectives. I also realized the vast numbers of people in need and that I wanted to be part of the solution. Now, I create and plan and work with a large group of individuals to make a greater impact on society.
I will continue my service activities by accepting any feedback that could help create better programs for the underserved. In the short term, I want to send more first-aid boxes to children in more countries. Recently, I had the exciting chance to visit Thailand to distribute donations. I am looking forward to similar experiences and planning more activities with children from developing countries. Such experience with service activities will help me become closer to my career goal of creating a medical-related NGO (like Doctors without Borders) and conducting more service activities in the future.
So Jung addressing a packed house at Prudential's Spirit of Community Awards ceremony.