Early morning around 7:30 am, we embarked on our 2-hour drive to Dang Jin with the Jaseng volunteer coordinators. Before we got off the bus, our coordinator reminded us of our mission–to not only help with everyday farming tasks but to understand the hardships of those who live in rural places experience. When we arrived, the scenery was stunning. The grass glistened in the occasional wind, reflecting the sun’s intense rays. Roosters crowed near the farm, their voices muffled against the vast hills and greenery that filled the landscape. The residents of the farm greeted us warmly and told us our task for the day. We were asked to wrap unripe grapes to prevent the infestation of bugs. The owner of the farm led us out to the grape vines and showed us an example of how to wrap the grapes, performing the task swiftly with his aged hands. At first, he made it look so easy that I thought it would be a quick task to accomplish; however the beating sun combined with the many different types of insects and dead leaves surrounding the grapes made it difficult at first. But over time, as we grew use to the motions, we began to slowly build progress and finished wrapping the whole row of grapes. Although we wrapped grapes for only around and hour and a half, many of us were already tired. Our stamina was no match for the residents of the farm who tended to these grapes everyday. The owners were kind enough to serve us one of the most satisfying meals that I had eaten in Korea so far. The table was filled with side dishes, homemade tofu, bulgogi, and the owner even let us try wine made from their own grapes! As I sipped the wine, I was once again reminded of the difficult work that they must’ve gone through in order to place these dishes in front of us. I’m very thankful for the resident’s willingness to open their home up allow us to understand a slight sliver of the hardships that they faced day to day.
We said our goodbyes and we moved onto setting up the medical clinic in the town, which the Jaseng Medical Foundation medical team would arrive to the next day. Jaseng often provides Korean/ Integrative healthcare services to those who live in rural areas and lack prevalent primary care in their town. We set up registration tables and brought in many chairs, as tomorrow’s medical outreach program would attract many residents of the town. We also diligently set up patient beds and packed adhesives.
I am very thankful for the experiences that I had on this trip to Dang Jin. Not only was I able to take the burden of work off of the farmers back for a few hours, but I was also happy to set up the medical clinic event since medical assistance is greatly limited in this town.
Washington University in St. Louis ‘18