Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – Pleasure that Lies in Giving

Name: Ji Su Oh
From: Chantilly, VA
Grade: 12
School: Freedom High School
Votes: 1

The classroom I found myself in on this August morning seemed like a
reclusive place from the outside world. Unlike the well-organized and
clean hallways of the church outside the door, the large room was
messy and in disorder—chairs everywhere, stacks of papers all over
the table, and pictures of students and teachers on the walls. All
the confidence I had had disappeared a long time ago, and I couldn’t
help but felt ill at ease. The students, none of whom I knew yet,
constantly made weird noises and wandered around the room, refusing
to pay attention as the teacher addressed them from the front of the

I was one of the teacher assistants at
“Yedarm School,” sponsored by the Korean American Disabled
People’s Association (KADPA). KADPA seeks out and assists families
with disabled children who are currently unable to take full
advantage of the available funding and assistance due to their
language, cultural and information gap. At Yedarm School, teachers
and volunteers gather every second Saturday of the month to share
their support and love. We worship together and help the disabled
students to adapt and communicate better through a variety of fun
activities and events.

Aa a teacher assistant, I simply need to help teachers taking care of
the disabled students. I never thought it was such a hard work, but I
can tell now that I was wrong. Even though I always wanted to do some
volunteering work for disabled, I realized that I never actually had
a chance to get along with them. In Korea, the disabled students must
go to special schools, and in America, even though we could go to the
same school, they take completely separate classes. Not knowing what
to do or how I should approach them, I got muddled in the middle of
room. All I could do was wait until I get assigned a job. I wasn’t
confident and felt anxious about whether or not I would be able to
connect and communicate with these kids. And yet, shameful as it was
to admit, I was uncomfortable and fearful of violence that could
happen at any time.

I knew, however, that these kinds of thinking would not help me at all.
So, I stood in front of the room and introduced myself as confidently
as I could. And unlike all my worries, I couldn’t find any troubles
communicating with them. They were gentle and genuinely thanked me
just for being there for them. As I volunteered at Yedarm School, I
learned to be thankful for what I had because the children always
found joy in the smallest things in life. I also learned that my life
was not my own, but it was meant to be shared with others. As Susan
chief nurse executive for Emory Healthcare
said, “We can fear, or we can care,” if I allowed myself to be
consumed with fear and anxiety on my first day, I would probably
never get to learn the
pleasure in life that lies in giving rather than receiving.

Join our Facebook group "Volunteers for a Better World".