Jonathan Dawson’s grade eleven advisory enjoyed a challenging EE trip to Goejedo. Here they reflect on their time on the island and working with residents at Aikwangwon.
The days leading up to the EE trips were rainy so grade eleven students and their teachers were glad to see their trip dawn sunny and breezy. After arriving at the island, one student remembers how beautiful the view was, feeling lucky for the chance to spend time at the beach before returning to Seoul.
Something I liked about this year’s junior EE trip was that we had a nice mix of service activities and activities for ourselves. I thought it was the most meaningful trip I’ve had in this school. Going to Aikwangwon and spending time with the residents was truly a great learning experience. – Sophia
A central part of the grade eleven EE trip is time spent at Aikwangwon Home and School for the Mentally and Physically Disabled. The group arrived at Aikwangwon on Wednesday to buddy up, dance, play games and enjoy performances by both KIS students and Aikwangwon residents. On Thursday, students and residents talked while making art and at the end of the day, buddies exchanged crafts to remember one another. After spending time at Aikwangwon, students were tired. Serving and communicating with residents required focused attention and thoughtful effort. Even so, Nicholas says, “It felt great to help them out, not just as a student, but also as a person who lives in a world like them.”
Nicholas says the EE trip taught him a lot of lessons and is “one of the most precious experiences” of his life. That may sound dramatic, but consider the opportunity this particular trip presents: students are asked to walk into an unfamiliar social situation and serve people with disabilities. Rather than call on students’ academic or physical strengths, the time at Aikwangwon requires students to use their emotional intelligence to make connections with the residents. One young woman explains, “Our connection with the people at Aikwangwon was most heartfelt through holding hands. It was difficult to understand [residents] because of language barriers or physical limitations, but the emotion conveyed through hand holding was powerful.”
While the grade eleven EE trip centered on service, students also enjoyed the small moments. Charles says, “EE is the time I can spend with friends, not talking about homework or test, but what actually interests us.” Students stared out the bus window, stayed up late talking and playing cards. They slept well. One morning, a group woke early to run with the sunrise. And the scheduled activities offered sweet surprises: the fun of making art with Aikwangwon residents, the view at the end of a hike uphill. For three days grade eleven students relaxed, served, and connected with one another. Charles concludes, “This trip makes me see the class of 2020 as friends, not colleagues.”
Thank you Jonathan Dawson and your grade eleven advisory for the stories and photos! Thank you also Anthony van Moppes and Kristin Hawkinson for your help with this post.