My First Voluntary Working Experience on Buddha’s Birthday
Last year, I got a chance to do a voluntary job on Buddha’s birthday. It was a hot day with the sun shining brightly. My Korean friends from Buddhist studies invited some international students who wanted to participate in this event. Since I had no class and nothing to do at the dorm, I decided to join. There were more than 6 international students and more than 10 Korean students who participated. At 8:00 AM, we were picked up by the driver from the temple. The temple is located in Daejeon. It took an hour to get to the temple. When we arrived, we were welcomed by the temple representative. We were guided by him to their cafeteria to get a free breakfast. Yep, on Buddha’s birthday you can get free breakfast and lunch meals. We had bibimbab at that time. So was the lunch.
It was quite nice although there was no meat inside, only vegetables. The taste was better that the one I ate in the Temple Stay in Danyang. After having breakfast, we gathered to meet the temple representative and they told us what jobs we would be doing.
My first task was stacking packages of rice at the front entrance. People who came to pray can purchase the package of rice then the money collected would be donated to the temple. My friend, Nana, got a task to give the rice cake away to the visitors. She told me, the ahjummas were so scary since they forced her to give them more rice cakes.
Around midday. I was moved to the outside of the temple and I needed to head to the kitchen. Wait, kitchen….., hopefully I wouldn’t be asked to wash the dishes. But thankfully, I saw 2 of my friends washing the dishes. So my second task was handing out the lunch meals to the visitors. I was working with my kind Korea friend, Cha Ji Seon. She taught me how to serve the meal and also taught me a new sentence : ‘맛있게 드세요 ‘. It means ‘ Have a nice meal ‘ in a formal way. She said, I had to say it after handing in the meal. Yep, I did it and felt tired after that.
I was standing up and handed in the meals for 2 hours. Bit tiring really.. Then finally we had a break. My friend, Val, told us that he was helping the drivers to park their cars. He said, the weather was so hot and that was his first time helping cars to park. Other friends, Csenge and Hae Do, had another interesting story about helping the ahjummas washing the dishes. The ahjummas kept praising her beauty and she couldn’t stand it. She just nodded, smiled, and said, ‘네…네… 감사합니다….’. Ahjummas love foreigners!
While chitchatting, our Korean friends brought us delicious rice cakes. Since we were soooooo tired, the rice cakes tasted soooo yummy. They brought some oranges as well. We wrapped the jobs up in the afternoon and we returned to our dorm. At night, as a token of gratitude for participating with the voluntary jobs, the Buddhist major students treated the international students to a dinner in the chicken house.
I won’t forget about this moment. Such a nice day to work with new friends and we can get to know each other. Also I’m so happy seeing the visitors’ smiles and listening to their praises about the volunteers hard work. I hope I can go back to Korea and experience the same thing later. Have a nice day!