Columbia University ‘20
On Friday, June 21st, the Global Affairs Interns headed to the Seoul National Cemetery to take part in a day of volunteering. Located in the Dongjak region of Seoul, the Seoul National Cemetery was the first National Cemetery in Korea. 165,000 citizens who gave their lives for their country are buried here on a plot of land around 1,430,000 meters cubed.
We arrived early on Friday morning to travel as a group with the rest of the Jaseng volunteers; it was inspiring to see how many people devoted their time to honoring the cemetery and those that are buried there; Jaseng’s commitment and connection to its community was evident.
When we traveled to the cemetery, I was struck by the beauty surrounding the memorial. The land is marked with lush mountain ridges and beautifully designed gardens, pathways and buildings. Stepping off of the bus, one could feel the significance of this place.
We prepared for the day by donning bright blue Jaseng Hospital vests, so that we would be able to protect our clothes while working hard. After taking some quick photos to remember the trip, we lined up with the other volunteers in rows of four so that we could participate in a ceremony. At the Memorial gate, we marched up to the wreaths and listened to a short speech, bowing to demonstrate our respect. It was an honor to be a part of such a beautiful event; the service emphasized the meaning of our work.
After posing for a group photo, we headed toward the cemetery. Our group was in charge of maintaining two plots, 34 and 35. To do so, we tended to the flowers placed at each grave so that the pots could be cleaned. In section 35, we cleaned each grave to ensure they were well-maintained. Our group also pulled out weeds to ensure the surrounding environment remained beautiful.
Luckily, we were part of a large group of volunteers so our task went quickly with everyone working hard. While we were working, several other groups were also there tending to other plots. It was wonderful to see so many different people coming together to honor and take care of those that had sacrificed themselves for their nation.
After finishing the morning’s work, we headed to the cafeteria to take part in a group lunch. We were glad to end the trip by eating and enjoying each other’s company.