Monday, May 28, 2012

Weekend Warriors

WOW! (Whirlwind Of a Weekend)
Weekends are normally seen as a time to rest and recharge your batteries for the upcoming week.
I have subscribed to this meaning of weekend quite a few times during my time here in Korea.
However, this was not the case two weekends ago (May 18-20).
Talk about one Whirlwind Of a Weekend!

The craziness started Friday night.
The Gyeongbokgung Palace complex had extended hours for a short period of time (about 5 days) so that people could take in the area at night, all lit up. A group of about 20 of us met at the palace and had an awesome time taking in the sights and sounds of the palace at night. There were jumping pictures, "Titanic" shots, and general enjoyment with cameras. We met a family from Indonesia that had the cutest little kid that kept us all throughly entertained the entire night! After the palace, we headed to a Japanese restaurant for some delicious grub and then parted ways, bracing ourselves for the rest of the weekend.

The entrance to the entire complex

The main palace building

My little buddy for the night!



One of the shrines inside the complex
 Saturday started out bright and early.
I, along with about 15 other volunteers from Mannam, headed to the House of Hope, where we have done previous volunteer activities for the residents that live there. Unfortunately, I was not able to spend the entire morning there, as I had to leave early (along with Donna and Myheshni) and head to another large event that Mannam was hosting that day: the Ultimate Challenge. After all of the volunteers and staff had been briefed on what was expected of everyone, we headed out, caught the subway, and made the hour trek across Seoul to the Ultimate Challenge venue.


Demonstrating one of the games, Hula Hoop Relays, with the help of Donna
The Ultimate Challenge was an experience that I will not soon forget.
I was asked to be the MC (Master of Ceremonies) for this event, with the assistance of Donna. We hosted the event at a middle school and had the use of their soccer field, track, basketball courts, and other facilities to help make this a very successful and enjoyable day. What was truly special about this event was the fact that members from the other branches of Mannam across Korea attended and partook in the events of the day. I even saw some of the members fromt he Busan branch that I met while in Jinhae for the Cherry Blossom Festival! That was really cool that they remembered me and we were able to cross paths once again!

Despite the bumps and last minute changes that occurred during the course of the event, it was a huge success. The main feature of the day was the soccer and basketball games. However, there were lots of little games that were going on throughout the entire day that participants could play and enter their names into a drawing at the end of the event. Another couple of highlights of the day were the large Tug-o-War games and Paper Jet War that happened towards the end of the day. All in all, it was such a fun experience and was my first true time MCing a large event like this!

Tug-O-War in action!

Myheshni, Donna, and Rachel chilling in the MC Booth

Taking a short break from MC duties

Paper Jet War!
Sunday brought lots of sun, fun, and hard work in the fields.
The destination was Ganghwa Island, an island just north of Incheon. There, Doraemi Village is nestled among the hills and rice patties. This village is comprised of about 495 families, with a large majority of them being elderly. May is the ideal time to plant sweet potatoes, which is one of the staple crops of this area. About 100 volunteers headed out to the village to help plant some sweet potatoes, de-bud some grape plants, and take in a different area outside of Seoul.

The work was a bit tedious and the sun definitely helped turn up the heat on all of the participants. By the end of our time, we had managed to plant an entire field of sweet potatoes, "groomed" a large amount of grape plants, and helped weed another field of sweet potatoes. It was really great to see all of the new faces of participants and to hear that they really did enjoy themselves. Following the planting, a group of us headed into the town, enjoyed some ice cream, relived the weekend, and then headed home to our respective areas.

My friend Tae Hooie working the field

Grapes!

The sweet potato field that we helped weed and to the left where we did our planting

Family shot!
It was quite an exhausting weekend, but one in which I had lots of fun and created some pretty awesome memories from. Hopefully it'll be a while before I experience another WOW moment!