PLC students reach out to South Korean orphans

Published 3:29 pm Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A group of students at Bainbridge High Westside Performance Learning Center (PLC), in conjunction with the 35th Fighter Squadron stationed in South Korea, “adopted” an orphanage for Christmas.

As part of their Service Learning requirement at PLC, these students purchased stockings and gifts for children ages 4 to 18. They also made Christmas cards, wrote letters to the orphans and sent pictures of themselves. Along the way, the PLC students learned a little about the differences between orphanages in this country and those of other lands.

Almost every week, the 35th Squadron pilots and many associated with their squadron, visit the orphanage and play with the children there—soccer, hiking, board games, etc.

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The 35th Fighter Squadron is currently planning a Christmas party for these children to ensure that their Christmas holidays are fun-filled and meaningful. All 100 children are scheduled to ride a shuttle from the orphanage to the base on Saturday, Dec. 20, to spend the day touring the facilities, have a nice lunch, and above all else, receive gifts and stockings from Santa Claus.

In South Korea, an orphanage is much different than one in the United States. The children often still have parents living, but their moms and dads have split from one another and decided to remarry. When that happens, it is expected of the adult to have a “clean slate;” meaning no children brought into the new family from the previous one. Therefore, they are left at an orphanage instead.

Unfortunately, those with living parents are not eligible for adoption, and their parents still offer minimal support in the way of money and care. For instance, on some Korean holidays parents of the orphans will come and collect their children for that day only.

The kids get to go to their mom or dad’s new family home and have dinner. Then, they are brought directly back to the orphanage and dropped off again. There are also orphans at this orphanage who have lost both parents and don’t have anywhere to go, even if it’s only for the occasional holiday meal.

The purpose of all service learning projects is to teach our young people how to give back to others. The intent of this particular project is to encourage students to be more accepting of the differences in other world cultures, as well as to develop a better understanding their own culture.

Once again, PLC students shone bright, even though many of them are overcoming their own obstacles during this holiday season. These students are to be commended for making the effort to improve the life of a child, no matter where he or she lives.

Teacher Lisa Hughes and student Gabbie Mullen organized the effort. Students involved in this project were Peyton Norris, Shoneequah Howard, Quintina Smith, Patrice Parrish, Jovita Padron, Yolanda Snell, Mario Porter, Chris Thompson, Chelsea Brown and Nikki Harrell.