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Habitat For Humanity: Build Houses, Experience Cultures, and Bowl…?

The scene of students wheeling their suitcases early in the morning is not an uncommon sight early in the second semester at KIS. Some are traveling to Japan for athletics; China for MUN; America for forensics; or Europe for music. Among those various groups, a few dedicated students travel to Southeast Asia with one pure goal in mind: help others. These students make up the club Habitat for Humanity, a club that builds houses for the underprivileged in various countries within a one week span. I got the opportunity to sit down with the bald master mind behind the compassionate club – Mr. Jeong Joo.

Blueprint: How long have you been in charge of Habitat for Humanity?

Mr. Joo: “Well, I’ve been a part of the club for 6 years and have been in complete charge of it for 4 and a half of those.”

Blueprint: What is the purpose or the philosophy behind Habitat?

Mr. Joo: “Their mission statement is that everyone should be entitled to safe housing.”

Blueprint: Prior to the trip, what kind of preparations would the club make?

Mr. Joo: “The coordinator (Mr. Joo) works with Habitat Korea and finds a place where the club can go and make a meritorious contribution. Additionally, the itinerary would be planned out. As for the club members themselves, they participate in fundraising for the trip. Typically they teach the faculty Korean. ”

Blueprint: During the trip, besides the building, are there any activities that the club members partake in?

Mr. Joo: “We try to ensure that a cultural aspect is definitely there. Maybe visit a local elementary school or just a group of local neighbourhood kids and attempt some sort of cultural exchange. Recently, we have tried to infuse Korean traditional games into our trips. For example, we might play yutnori or gonggi. Personally, I think that’s something special and memorable.”

Blueprint: For the most recent Habitat trip, what was the most memorable aspect?

Mr. Joo: “Regarding our Vietnam trip, it was memorable in the fact that we had never visited this country before. Typically we have rotated Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, or Cambodia and it was just nice to go to a new country and experience the culture there.”

Blueprint: Are there any traditions involved with Habitat?

Mr. Joo: “We like to go bowling at least once- typically at the end of a trip. We believe it’s a fun way to wrap up a trip. I think we have done this for at least 5 of the last few trips!”

Blueprint: As the coordinator behind all of this, what is your favourite part of doing what you do?

Mr. Joo: “What I particularly like about the club itself is that it’s not just like a handout. We’re not only making a donation, but we get to see the process of and get to be part of the building process with the homeowners.”

Blueprint: Lastly, for any potential applicants, what kind of people are you looking for?

Mr. Joo: “I’m looking for people that like to travel and are genuinely interested in interacting with the locals. There a lot of programs out there where you would just donate money. Habitat is set apart since we get to see where the donations are going and actually being part of that business process. Fundamentally, I am searching for high-performing students who are responsible.”

Habitat for Humanity: a club that visits an assortment of East Asian countries to experience new cultures and give to the community there and, as Mr. Joo phrases it, is a club that “is different from a lot of the other fundraising programs”. If you are interested in becoming a member of this special association, you should not hesitate to apply once applications are sent out!

Written by John Gee

Featured Image by Sebin Kum

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