Now I am confident that I can do anything

My name is Eunsuk Kim, and I am the mother of Seungjun Lee, who achieved his Silver Award this year after receiving his Bronze last year.

Seungjun is a freshman of the school of theology, Hanil University & Presbyterian Theological Seminary, in the Republic of Korea. The university has recognised his outstanding talent in volunteer activities, and granted him special admission for leadership in social volunteer activity. Yet, everyone said it would be impossible. Even us, his parents, did not see it coming.

When Seungjun was born, his left brain was damaged because of complications during childbirth. As a result, he was diagnosed with serious developmental disability, and has been receiving psychotherapy and medical treatment at Seoul University Hospital for the last 16 years. His learning and cognitive ability is that of a seven or eight-year old.

Competitive school life

While he was attending an ordinary school with others who did not have such disability, he could not win in any competition. School life in Korea, which demands students should compete mercilessly with each other to go to a good university, was such a torment for him. He was losing his confidence and suffering, and that was when we came across the Award. As he started setting goals of his own that could fit the ability he had and making plans to complete his objectives one by one, the joy and pleasure he felt was enormous.

For his Silver Service section, Seungjun was looking after elderly people at a care facility – it was the same one at which he had volunteered for a year and a half since he began his Bronze Award. The old people were like a family to him and he was certainly fortunate to be loved so dearly by them. He was there to help the elders, and they gave him more love than he gave them, to make him feel more confident when he came back home.

As a part of the Skills section, Seungjun learned to play the saxophone. At first, he did not even know how to read the scales. It took him three long months to be able to play Arirang – a Korean folk song – for the grandpas and grannies at the care home. He was practicing so hard that his lips were blistered all over. In the end, he finally completed his practice. The next day, he rushed to the facility and played his tune to the elders, receiving loud applause from the audience.

Building confidence

The Award has helped him to build a sense of self-confidence. Also, he now has the courage and endurance to go for whatever goals he wishes to achieve by overcoming any obstacles. We are sure, on top of that, that he now has the warm heart and love to care about others that he learned from his volunteer activity.

His challenges will not stop here, and his growth and development will continue. Asked about his future dream, Seungjun answers that he wants to become a preacher specialising in Christian church music to bring joy to other people’s lives. He is learning to play the drum for this purpose.

“I was always running away from competitions, so I was giving up all the time. My grades at school were terrible. Sometimes, I cried out loudly because I just did not want to go to school. I was so scared to do anything without Mom helping me, right next to me. Now, I am confident that I can do anything. I never imagined that I could do anything to help others, while I myself had this disability… But I could, in the end, overcome my handicaps.” - Seungjun Lee

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