Seoul Foreign British School, South Korea|

It All Starts with the Bathroom

We are delighted to share a blog written by Irene Cho, a student at Seoul Foreign British School who is part of a team delivering a Global Goals project for the 2018-19 Global Goals Competition.

Their project is among over 800 social action projects currently running as part of the GSL movement and we are excited to be supporting them to design and lead positive social change in their community. 

I have truly experienced a learning opportunity that I never could have had anywhere else.

Project Overview

Our team’s goal is to help influence a more positive mindset for the people around us by painting the bathrooms. This idea was influenced by the Mapo Bridge. This bridge is a place when many Korean people have committed suicide by jumping over. Suicide is the leading cause of deaths between ages 10-39 in South Korea. To prevent more suicides from happening, there was a project where people put up signs like “Have you eaten?” or “How are you feeling?” on the bridge to make the people feel as if someone cared about them.

Our plan is to paint positive texts all over the Key Stage 3 bathrooms, both male and female. Key Stage 3 is made out of 6-8th graders. This is the age where self-loathing starts to begin. When people look at the mirror, they usually don’t see the positive about themselves but rather the negatives, like acne. By adding inspirational quotes and positive messages like “mirror, mirror on the wall, you are the fairest of them all” would make people (especially girls) feel better as if they are receiving a compliment.

In our school, many of the boys in our grade are studying for taking SSAT’s for high school applications and are going to hagwon (an academy) until late at night. This causes them to receive a lot of stress about their grades and hagwon homework. Boys are naturally competitive by nature, whether it is in academics or sports they will always compare one another’s skill as if it were a race. We want to show that it’s okay to make mistakes and that you don’t always have to be first in order to be the best. Overall, we want to make a positive difference in people’s lives.

Our Journey

As the leader of this project, I have learned and experienced so many things that I cannot put it all into words. Each day came with a problem that we had to overcome as a team. By taking a part of this competition, I have learned to be more patient and confident in my choices. I realized that a lot of my team depended on me to make the final choice and were waiting for my verdict. This constantly put pressure on me and my schedule.

This experience made me realize that I needed to put a little more trust in my team and give them a role in the team that would make them believe in their own choices. I believe that this made the whole team a little bit more responsible. I have come to realize that I cannot trust my team 100% when it comes to deadlines. I become worried that they won’t turn it in on time or feel like it’s too much to do. Responsibility is a key factor that our team has learned together. We cannot function properly without each other.

My biggest challenge, currently, is to try to not take over the roles of my other team members. I want them to take responsibility for their actions and role in the team. If they fail to do their task then the dates for painting and stenciling the bathrooms will have to be delayed and someone else will have to carry their load. All I can do to overcome this is to support them and remind them about their role in the team. “Trust” is the overall challenge that I need to work on.

The Next Chapter

I would absolutely recommend these types of projects to people my age. It teaches you so much about yourself and others. It gives a chance to mature and take responsibility for your actions, like in the real world.

Although you will get pressured about the load of work that you receive, at the end, when you accomplish all your tasks, you will be proud of that end result. The time you spent on all of that work will pay off and give you something to be proud of.

I swear to the people who want to join that they will experience something very eye-opening and challenging but very rewarding in the end. You will develop skills you never would have learned anywhere else.

The 2018-19 GSL Global Goals Competition is now open and runs until June 2019. If you belong to one of the 700+ teams of students currently delivering a social action project as part of the competition we would love to hear from you and feature your blog and project photos on our website to inspire others.