Being one of the most active organizations in Korea that works with over 3,000 volunteers annually doing various volunteering activities, Better World has recognized the positive impact youth bring to the communities from their participation in meaningfl volunteering projects.
One of the international events Better World recently participated in was the Global Youth Service Day (GYSD), which is the largest service event in the world. It mobilizes youth around the world for service projects to effect positive community change. As part of the project, Better World brought together a group of American youth studying Korean and the culture to one of the village called the Yangdong village in the historic city of Gyeongju that was designated as one of the eleven World Heritage Sites by the UNESCO in 2010.
After its designation, tourists would come into the village out of curiosity and would intrude the lives of the local villagers. These types of happenings had been creating much tension between the city and the local people that reside in the village. In addition, there were some local people that spoke out saying that the current existing introductory brochures and booklets about the village did not give accurate information about the village and had expressed some dissatisfaction.
In order to correctly represent the village to outsiders, the volunteers met with the head of the village to get an introduction of the village from an insider. A meeting session was also held with the current head of the Yi clan. Mr. Yi shared the importance of preserving the mentality of the village about the buildings and structures themselves. It was an important lesson learned as volunteers got to see how intrusive it is for tourists to flash cameras into someone’s home, for the village is not a museum but still a home to many.
From the interviews and site visits conducted, the volunteers made a poster about the village for tourists. Tasks were divided from drawing of important sites of the village to explaining about the mentality and history of the village. The time spent at the village was meaningful as the American volunteers who might not have had anything to do with the preservation of the Korean village took the initiative to get involved. With the Korean language skills they acquired, they interacted with the elders of a traditional village in the hope to make the living environment to the villagers more home than a mere tourist attraction.