Nomad teacher travels the country

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Nomad teacher travels the country


Kim Hye-rim on her 3,000-kilometer (1,864-mile) hike in Te Araroa, New Zealand, to raise money for Kenyan children. [KIM HYE-RIM]

Part-time instructor Kim Hye-rim, 28, calls herself the principal of the “Wandering School,” as she is the head and founder of a group of teachers who travel across Korea to teach young students in remote regions about subjects ranging from physical education to foreign languages.

Growing up, she said, she was always a wanderer. She cycled the whole country while in college and has climbed Uganda’s Margherita Peak and Kenya’s Point Lenana. Although she originally intended to follow her mother’s footsteps and become a classroom teacher, Kim took a different path.

“Rather than educating students in a confined space,” she said, “it seemed more worthwhile to go to students who needed more help.”

After recruiting fellow undergrad teachers, Kim left on her first trip in July 2015. In a month, she visited community child centers in Sejong Special Self-Governing City, Gwangju, Haenam County in South Jeolla, Busan, Pohang in North Gyeongsang and Sokcho in Gangwon.

In 2016, Kim bought a car and went to Taean County in South Chungcheong, Hwacheon County in Gangwon, Daegu, Jeonju in North Jeolla and Gongju in South Chungcheong. From 2015 to 2016, Kim taught nearly 140 children and traveled 2,800 kilometers (1,739 miles).

Last February, she went on a cross-country hiking trip to raise money for kids in Kenya. On a Korean web portal, she posted her plans to hike the 3,000 kilometer Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand, and asked people to donate one dollar per kilometer.

“I paid for the trip with the money I earned as a part-time instructor,” said Kim. She recalled numerous hardships she experienced during her trip. “The sleeping schedules were irregular and I popped a lot of blisters on my feet walking on the 100-kilometer-long asphalt road in Auckland.”

The $3,000 she gathered from the three-month ordeal, in addition to 40 cotton tampons she made along the way, were donated to an unnamed international relief organization.

Kim says although her mother was initially concerned, she became increasingly understanding.

“My parents were worried that I traveled the countryside annually, in addition to going abroad,” she said. “Now she sees how dedicated I am and encourages my actions to help others.”

Kim is planning a third season of the wandering school this year. She hopes to establish the group into a social corporation in the long run. Her dream is to cooperate with many other educational organizations.

“I want to offer a helping hand to other children across the country,” she said.

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