KU Outreach Mentorship Program for High School Students
“Future-Sharing School” continues to offer one-to-one “un-tact” mentoring
KUSSO has been running the “KU-JUMP Seongbuk Future-Sharing School” program, whose academic mentoring and career guidance program has matched around 50 KU students with grade 1 high school students on a one-on-one basis each year for the past three years. This outreach program started with 40 high school students in 2017. After three years of mentoring, the program produced its first college students, making this year especially meaningful. It has helped students maximize their potential, and as a result they have begun to successfully enter tertiary institutions, including but not limited to the University of Seoul, Korea Aerospace University, the College of Education at Kongju National University, and Seoul Women’s University. Despite the fact that the COVID-19 crisis has put many college students’ job hunting and extramural activities on hold, KU students have been more than willing to roll up their sleeves to help high school students who are in more difficult situations. Their altruistic efforts have resulted in the number of high school applicants to the program doubling to 80 students this year.
One student who is taking part in this program as a mentor said, “At first, I was not so sure whether this would work online, but it turns out that it has been as effective as in-person mentoring. Assisting mentees to discover or acquire their own study skills and methods is what this whole program is about.”
One of the high school students who is receiving support explained, “The program is helping me a lot in terms of not only gaining better motivation in navigating my road to college, but also of directing me to identify the positive aspects of life.”
The program is currently providing online mentoring for all grades of high school student from underserved backgrounds residing in Seongbuk-gu, Gangbuk-gu, and Nowon-gu, but there are plans to expand its reach to all 26 districts of Seoul.
(Image) ➊ An exhibition invitation card illustrated by mentors, based on mentees’ drawings (theme: before and after COVID-19)
(Image) ➋ Sending “Worry doll” to children with disabilities and providing them DIY craft kits
The “Microphone Book” Online Distance Education Outreach Program
Providing more benefits without time and space limitations
KUSSO is also running an online synchronous learning program called the “Microphone Book” for elementary and middle school students from marginalized areas with limited access to education. Through the program, discussions on texts the students read are held real time, while coding training is provided via recorded lectures.
The discussion program is focused on reading comprehension and reading-based discussion. It is popular among students as it allows them to utilize their background knowledge in various fields to engage in lively discussions, where they can develop their skills through logically expressing their thoughts and voicing their opinions.
When deciding on a discussion topic, mentors thoroughly consider whether it is an interesting one that students can easily relate to, perhaps involving issues such as social media, personal media, plastic surgery, and 'lookism'. The coding training program was introduced this year upon the request of participating schools.
This training is currently available to students in Guesung Elementary School in Gangwon province, Miryeok Elementary School in Boseung-gun, and Poongyang Elementary School in Goheung-gun, and there are plans to expand the program to other schools in the Fall semester.
13 schools were originally scheduled to participate in the Microphone Book program this year. However, due to the pandemic, only seven schools did so, namely Bokheung Middle School in Sunchang-gun, Siheung Elementary School in Jeju, Yoelwon in Gochang-gun, Cheongsan Elementary School in Wando-gun, Guesung Elementary School in Goseong-gun, Poongyang Elementary School in Goheung-gun, and Miryeok Elementary School in Boseung-gun.
Han Hee-ju (’19, Department of Health Policy and Management) said, “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Microphone Book program was conducted in a different form from previous years. However, the situation led us to view the world from a new angle, with deeper understanding.” She added, “My memories of spending time talking to kids about their concerns and values during class will last for a long time. Their eyes sparkled when they were talking about their dreams of the future, such as traveling to faraway places and becoming the future president of Korea. The whole experience was rewarding and working as a mentor was very worthwhile.”
Kang Dan-bi (’18, Department of Home Economics Education) who also took part in the Microphone Book program said, “At first, I was worried that it would be difficult to empathize and communicate with the kids in online settings. However, it turns out that many of them were already familiar with using digital devices. Although we were not able to meet each other in person, it was great to know that our online activities were not limited by time and space. Knowing that mentors and mentees were connected in real time through social media was a great comfort to many of us who participated in the program.”
Mentors (above) and mentees (below) who are participating in the online “Microphone Book” study program
The Severe Inequality in Access to Education Caused by COVID-19
KU will lead the way toward future happiness and harmony
Besides the activities mentioned above, KUSSO is embodying the value of hope and sharing through various other online activities. For instance, KU students have orally narrated and filmed children’s stories so that kids can watch the clips online and made cotton masks and soaps which they provided to multicultural communities in Seongbuk-gu through the Rainbow School program. Moreover, through the Purme Foundation NEXON Children’s Rehabilitation Hospital program, they have made ‘we care about you’ dolls, natural soaps, and dream catchers for children with disabilities. Students have also created illustrations based upon their mentee’s drawings, and recently opened the program's first donation exhibition.
Eur Do-seon (Director of KUSSO) said, “Ever since the advent of outbreak, our in-person volunteer activities have been reduced significantly. KU will, nevertheless, take the lead in closing the education gap that has been exacerbated by the pandemic. It is very important that we work to build a sharing future together for the sustainable development of our society. We will expand the social contribution we make online so that children from underserved backgrounds can continue to study hard in order to pursue their dreams in a positive frame of mind.”
In addition to its existing online outreach activities, in the Fall semester KUSSO will continue to make contributions to society in relation to the UN's SDGs through a specialized major convergence-oriented living lab that is linked to BK21.