Charming Harabojis

I joined a volunteer activity last week with the Itaewon Global Village Center and we went to the Yongsan Senior Welfare Center to be with the halmonis and harabojis who are interested to learn or practice their English speaking skills. I didn’t expect much so I just geared up myself to patiently talk to the oldies who will be attending the day’s English class.

The Yongsan Welfare Center

We divided ourselves and we Asians (3 Filipinos and a Singaporean) were placed with the basic learners. Surprise! One haraboji who put himself in the Basic Class was actually very good in the English language. I think he was just being too hard on himself when he claimed that he can’t speak English well.

And these charming harabojis made the 1-hour class interesting:

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I forgot the 99-year old haraboji’s name (right) but he definitely was one of the popular students last Wednesday. When we learned that he is already 99-years old, we couldn’t hide our admiration. Katherine, the Director of Itaewon Global Village Center, mentioned that this is one of the government’s activities for the senior citizens to fight off old-age diseases such as Alzheimer’s. And wow! We have an active 99-year old attendee.

Mr. Chang (left) is an 85-year old Korean war veteran. He’s the one who can communicate very well. When he learned that I am a Filipino, he caught everyone’s attention when he started singing the translated version of “Ang magtanim ay di biro….”. He fondly remembered a Filipino captain who taught him the song. Then he talked briefly about the Korean War where he served as a Lieutenant and how grateful they were (and still are) of the Philippines’ help for Korea during that time.

It really is amazing how the old Koreans remember with gratefulness our Philippine soldiers’ help during the Korean war. I think this appreciation is deeply instilled in them because you just cannot miss how they talk about being friends with Philippines (especially during this period). Talking and listening to him is one of those moments you can be proud of as a Filipino here in Korea. I would definitely want to go back next month!

Wednesday’s volunteers
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