In a correction to the previous post, I would just like to say that it is NOT illegal to volunteer in the ROK on an E2 visa. Apparently, it used to be, but is not anymore. This seems to be one of those ongoing 외국인 rumors. There seem to be a few nice opportunities out there for foreigners who want to volunteer (including an organization called H.O.P.E, which seeks to offer English learning opportunities for those young people in Seoul whose families cannot afford to compete), but I feel like I haven't hit upon exactly what I'm looking for yet. Although I'm down with teaching English, I can't help but feel like it might not be the best idea, given my current workload, to take on more lesson planning and classroom time at the moment. I really don't want to get burnt out. And I would like to find something that's at least a little bit of a change of pace from what I do all day, every day.

There are always the orphanages, one of which I may take a trip to on Saturday, just to see how it is, but come on -- who doesn't want to help orphans? I'd prefer to go a less conventional route, if possible -- do something that other people don't necessarily want to do. I'm thinking juvie home/prison work, but god only knows if those kind of programs even exist in the ROK. They barely exist back home.

That one thing that just feels right hasn't jumped out at me yet. I'll keep trolling.

Other news? There's not a lot, other than a kind of general sense of blah, as things back home are not stupendous at the moment, and tomorrow is that big holiday and stuff. I've spent the last few days exchanging literally hundreds of texts with people who just don't matter to me at all. It doesn't help you to feel less lonely to have a lot of contact with people you don't care about, versus a little contact with people you do. Or at least, it doesn't help me.

Hopefully volunteering will not only help keep me out of trouble, but also help me to meet a few like-minded souls, versus the dozens of vapid Englishee half-wits I seem to be surrounded by at the moment.

Oops. I mean. Something less awful sounding than that.

Ignore me. Just a rough patch, kiddos. Once we make it through the holidays, I think things will get better.


Morrisonhotel said...

You do, technically, require permission from immigration for volunteering on an E2 for certain things (the whole thing is a bit grey). There's a form you need to fill in and a fee to be paid (60,000w) to make everything totally legit. From what I can understand, immigration turns a blind eye on volunteering because of the altruistic nature of it.

I'll PM you on the board, if you'd like, with a fair amount of links for voluntary opportunities. Unfortunately, most of them are in and around Seoul. Some of them are teaching (orphanages and teaching refugees), some of them are political (human rights, etc. I'm currently volunteering for a NGO. I'm mainly doing editorial work for their journal on human rights in North Korea), and some of them are environmental.

Diana E. said...

It's the permission thing that makes it "illegal." I think the original reason for it was that if they allowed volunteering for E-2s then people could do privates and if caught, claim they were "volunteering." (Yeah... um and people can't see the difference between a youth shelter and a private house in Gangnam...).

Volunteer opportunities I've found have ALL come through networking. I'm in Daegu, so my networks won't help you very much. :( Going to charitable places like the YMCA or a church might help... I found several opportunities through those connections. Also, I'm working on fundraising projects for charities--events geared at us foreign English teachers with free time on weekends and money to burn (like... hey... if you're gonna go blow $50 downtown drinking, why not have some of that go to a good cause, right? Folks are very receptive to this and it provides a service to the foreign community!). Actually, the IMANI Foundation was started by three girls (one is a good friend of mine) who met in Korea and raised money for their own volunteer trip (they saved for their own plane tix and used the donations to start their projects) a couple years ago. Now it's up and running and doing a lot of good in Kenya.

I'm no Picasso said...

Morrisonhotel -- Yeah, it seems like basically you're in the clear though. At any rate, if you're going through an organization (which you almost always will be), they are likely to be informed of what exactly you need to do to take care of things. I know that HOPE, at least, does not require permission from immigration. Like most things here with our visas, it is a bit grey.

I'm really interested in doing the refugee/NK defector thing, but haven't found any solid venues for it yet. Environmental stuff isn't really my thing -- obviously it's important, but I'd much rather be working with people than with nature. If you have any leads on the refugee front, they would be greatly appreciated.

Diana -- that's all good information. I may just start baseline with the community centers around the neighborhood. It would be easier on me to stick closer to home, anyway, and I'm definitely not in a Gangnam style area here, if you catch my drift. There should be at least something, one would think....

HL said...

They assist North Korean defectors. You can teach English.

They offer counseling and assistance to single mothers.

Both are Seoul-based.

I would love to volunteer, but I fear that I would end up even more drained than I feel now (Korean class in the morning, hagwon in the afternoon). Good luck!

I'm no Picasso said...

Thank you HL for the information! This is the rub -- I've just given up Korean class in order to feel not so stressed and busy all the time, yet I find myself back here trying to pack things into the schedule. I think it's the Korean lifestyle rubbing off on me. Sitting still is not an option. Good luck you to with that schedule -- I've done it before (in reverse) and it's not easy.