중앙데일리

In reaching out to others, expat finds herself

Feb 12,2007
Shirley Vander Schaaf
The efforts of one Canadian woman to rebuild her life in Korea is bearing fruit in the outreach she provides to other foreigners here.
“I was a broken woman when I came here,” Shirley Vander Schaaf said in an interview last week at her home in Sosa, Gyeonggi province. “I rebuilt my life by teaching English at hagwons [private institutes] and universities.”
Ms. Vander Schaaf came to Korea seven years ago after teaching English in the western and high arctic regions of Canada for 30 years. After arriving in Korea, she started giving what little she had and has continued until today. She estimates her donations and contributions have reached roughly 60 million won ($64,000). Ms. Vander Schaaf said she gives anytime she sees a need, whether it is to the less fortunate on the street or to food programs for North Koreans and Cambodians.
“I started giving without judging, which is not my mandate,” she said.
A devout Christian, Ms. Vander Schaaf’s latest efforts involve the Division of Ministry to Foreigners at Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul. Between 100 and 150 Africans and Filipinos receive medical services, counseling, language training and meals through the division, Ms. Vander Schaaf said. The total number of foreigners, minus Westerners, at Yoido is around 200, she said.
Other services include visa and employment counseling, help finding housing and simple companionship.
Ms. Vander Schaaf said the central mission is to help build the human networks that make living in Korea easier for foreigners. Church members in cell groups advertise the services it provides in places such as Myeongdong and Itaewon, where there are large groups of foreigners.
“Word-of-mouth is important in Korea,” Ms. Vander Schaaf said.
The church has five foreign parishes: Western, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish and Filipino. It also offers services in English, Japanese, Spanish, Pilipino, Indonesian and Russian. There are also translations and interpretations in French and Arabic. She said fewer than 100 Westerners attend Yoido. The church’s Division of Ministry to Foreigners began in 2005. Ms. Vander Schaaf joined the church a year ago through a Korean friend. Nowadays she teaches the Bible in English both at Yoido and at Hansei University.
Ms. Vander Schaaf credits God with directing her to Korea where she has learned and received more than she had expected.
“Korean people are most gracious and hard working people,” she said.


By Lee Ho-jeong Staff Writer ojlee82@joongang.co.kr


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