Volunteer work can be selfish act

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Volunteer work can be selfish act

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Many people around me contribute to society through volunteer work. But there still are people who think that they cannot afford to volunteer for others while volunteers can do the job because they have extra time, money and energy.

In fact, I used to consider volunteering and community service just other people’s business. But I changed my mind after speaking with Shigeru Mori, director of the Kanazawa School of Volunteer Services in Japan, last spring.

Together with members of the on-the-job team from Hyangbusuk, an educational institute for local government employees in North Chungcheong, I joined their field trip to Kanazawa.

Mori, a former professor of chemical engineering at Kanazawa University, said that volunteering can be effective when it is taught professionally. The 25-week continuing education program focuses on the concept, attitude and methods of volunteer services. There are eight courses: cultural activities, autonomous local community operation, welfare and health, sign language and Braille, historical heritage, international exchange, environment preservation and local tourism.

Most of all, Mori’s philosophy was that volunteering was actually not about offering service to others but more of a selfish act.

“Everyone eventually grows old, and anyone can get into an accident. We volunteer to create a society where someone else would help if I am in trouble. Volunteering is a way to create a community where members help one another,” he said, adding that we are saving up service and sharing for ourselves. I agree.

On Tuesday, several local newspapers featured a photo of U.S. President Barack Obama visiting Martha’s Table, a food pantry in Washington, D.C. The nonprofit organization offers meals to low-income and homeless families. The photo illustrated that volunteering is not just an act of charity but a social movement to create a community where members can help one another.

It is not even election season, but the president encouraged and engaged with volunteers. His appearance enhances the dignity of the nation, and I would like to see such appearances in Korea as well.

From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, a charity market will be open at Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul. We Start, an organization that helps children in poverty, and the Beautiful Store, a charity organization that sells donated goods and helps those in need, have joined together for the event. Of course, the market is operated by volunteers themselves.

I am sure we can confirm the health of our society through this annual event. I will make sure to visit the event, reminding myself that “volunteer work is selfish.”

*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by CHAE IN-TAEK
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