YISS' high school Guardians with a Message (GWAM) program sent four teams to serve in various locations throughout Korea during Spring Break this year. Each team had a different purpose, but all of the teams came away from the trips with a desire to continue loving and serving those in need.
Team Geoje's main purpose was to befriend the residents of Aikwangwon, a community of people with physical and mental disabilities of varying degrees, and accompany them on simple daily excursions. The team was privileged to partner with adult residents on outings such as nature walks, visits to coffee shops, trips to grocery stores, a visit to an art gallery, and a tour of the P.O.W. museum. Team members also had a chance to help feed some residents. In addition, the team performed a few songs at Aikwangwon and the local church they attend. After walking close to 60 km, the team felt like they had purpose because they were able to allow the residents to enjoy slices of life that most others easily take for granted. The trip showed Team Geoje how simple and amazing it can be to include people with special needs in their lives.
Leaders: Ms. DeGroat, Dr. Baniszewski, Ms. Song
Members: Andrew L. (10), Katherine L. (10), Amelia T. (10), Ashley Y. (10), Woojin Y. (10), Sneha A. (9), Emma C. (9), Irene G. (9), Matthew K. (9), Edward K. (9), Joanne L. (9), Justin L. (9), Annie N. (9), Kristina P. (9), Justin R. (9)
Team Jeju spent five days serving at two locations and touring South Korea's largest island. Saturday and Sunday were spent at a local church that takes in mentally disabled homeless people and cares for them. Team members performed many different tasks--cleaning the buildings inside and out, weeding and tilling the garden, and cooking a meal of bibimbap for all the residents. On Sunday, the students sang for the congregation. After church, fun was had by all with a BBQ and games. Monday was rainy, but that did not stop the team from visiting a local nursing home where they served by cleaning the facility and weeding the garden. The students were able to chat with the residents, all of whom were born and raised on Jeju, while having an afternoon snack. Afterward, the team continued visiting with the residents while making crafts and singing popular old Korean songs. Tuesday was an adventurous day of hiking up Hallasan through a cloud with ice forming in everyone's hair. All of the team members made it to the shelter despite a few bumps and bruises and were rewarded on the mountain's leeward side with sunny skies and warmer weather. Team Jeju also toured a few attractions around the island before coming home on Wednesday afternoon. All around, it was a successful trip, and many of the students were sad that they were unable to stay and serve longer.
Leaders: Mr. Hannah, Ms. Yim
>Members: Sonia D. (12), Eugene M. (12), Katie C. (11), Matthew C. (11), Oliver K. (11), Christian K. (11), Chris L. (11), Sunny L. (11), Justin L. (11), Edward P. (11), Soohyun R. (11), Sophia S. (11), Christine T. (11), Jaydon H. (10)
Team Kunsan spent five days serving at a single mothers' home. Every night, they prepared an English camp for the children there and led a variety of activities, such as singing and making crafts. The team also went to two different centers for people with disabilities, where they interacted with the residents by playing songs and games, as well as helping them with their work. Other service activities included teaching English at a nearby daycare and helping with cleaning the environment. The team bonded every day through their cooperation and teamwork, even when they faced obstacles. From their service, the students on the Kunsan trip were able to gain unforgettable memories and form genuine bonds with the children they served. They learned significant life lessons about being thankful for the privileges they have.
Leaders: Mr. Pash, Mrs. Pash, Mrs. Beatty
Members: Sarah K. (12), Sebastian E. (11), Daniel H. K. (11), Brendan L. (11), Soo L. (11), Jay B. (10), Shelley C. (10), Yoona C. (10), Tayne K. (10), Ashley K. (10), Lina P. (10), Julian R. (10), Jiyu S. (10), Jasmine C. (9), Simon S. (9)
Team Pyeongtaek traveled to another school in the NICS network, International Christian School of Pyeongtaek. As a group, the team had the incredible privilege of ministering and serving kindergarten through 5th-grade students through Vacation Bible School (VBS). The VBS Theme was "Weird Animals." Through this theme, the team was able to share God's one-of-a-kind love to the students throughout the week. During the week, the team was also able to partner with ICS-P's "Week Without Walls" program and help teachers and students with various crafts and service projects. On the last two days of the trip, team members were able to go to various places to serve the community. The team went to a local police station, where they handed out goodie bags to the police officers, and team members also put on a musical performance for the elderly at a nursing home. On the last day of the trip, many of the students were sad and upset that they had to leave. This GWAM trip was a great opportunity for students to serve, connect with, and love YISS' sister school in Pyeongtaek.
Leaders: Ms. Han, Ms. Swift
Members: Yunee P. (11), Rebecca K. (10), Justin O. (10), Daniel S. (10), Rachel C. (9), Jayden K. (9), Jane L. (9), Kelly Y. (9)
View the Pyeongtaek recap video here.