Come Together is a series introducing associations and clubs that expats can get involved in. This week, Expat Living spoke to Ham Eun-jou of Mannam Volunteer Association. ― Ed.
■ Name of Club:
Mannam Volunteer Association (Mannam Volunteer Association ― International Division is specifically for expatriates in South Korea) or just “Mannam.”
There are several locations in South Korea including Seoul and Daegu, as well as locations around the world.
■ Number of members:
We have 6,000 international members, and more than 1,000 of them are active. Mannam Volunteers Association has over 80,000 members worldwide.
Mannam Volunteer Association started in the Gangnam area of Seoul in 2003 with a small community of 700 members. In 2009, Mannam began its activity in the international community with the celebration of the 54th commemoration of the Korean War. Its 54 different volunteer organizations based in Korea, and some internationally, have hosted three national festivals in the last eight years.
■ Who is it for?
Mannam Volunteer Association is for anyone who has a heart to volunteer and inspire people of all ethnic groups, cultures, religions and nationalities to allow their acts of love to reach beyond their immediate communities. The International Division is specifically focused on expatriates who live in South Korea, providing the opportunity for them to experience Korea, as well as to make a difference in Korean society.
■ What goes on?
Mannam hosts events every month in addition to the weekly cultural classes and clubs that are offered. Besides the large festivals that have been held on a national level, the International Division of Mannam organizes events especially for expatriates in Korea who are keen to get involved. A couple of examples are the 10 km Walk for Disaster Awareness Campaign in November and the Open Mic Charity Caf in December.
There are also regular volunteering opportunities all around Seoul, Gyeonggi Province, and Daegu (such as orphanages, elderly homes and animal shelters).
The weekly cultural classes and clubs are focused on making Korean culture more accessible through food, language and sports. Mannam volunteers teach Korean cooking classes weekly. A new session of Mannam’s free Korean classes, which are taught by volunteers, begins every three months. Other activities include a Hallyuwood movie club, the Friends in the East (for Russian speakers) meeting, our soccer team and judo classes.
■ Plans for the future?
Our vision is to work as pure volunteers who give back to the community.
■ How to join:
All expats are welcome to become a member of Mannam Volunteer Association-International Division. Those interested can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. We also have a Facebook group called “When Lights Unite.”
■ Are there any membership fees? What are they?
There are no membership fees. Being a member of Mannam is all about pure-hearted volunteering.
■ What is the highlight of the year?
Mannam aims to bring all cultures together, put aside differences and become one in volunteerism. This year, Mannam will bring various cultures to your doorstep. Starting in February, we will hold cultural events highlighting Italy, China and Japan along with other countries.