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[Voice for the Voiceless] Visiting the Ministry of Employment and Labor

Dear readers,

I have visited a very special place today. I have been to the Ministry of Employment and Labour to make a policy proposal as a member of the community service team Voice for the Voiceless.

So, what is that? It is mainly a student-organized group that wishes to amplify the voices of those who are socioeconomically unprivileged--the homeless. I formed this group with some of my friends (including underclassmen and upperclassmen) I have met during my debating career.

People often assume debating to be a very nerdy hobby, but I believe the exact opposite of it. Just as someone who plays Basketball or soccer is cool, I think someone who debates for fun is also a very cool person; I think that debating should actually be considered as a competitive intellectual sport. Anyways, just like people quickly get closer by playing sports, I made many, many lifelong friends by debating. Even more, because during debates, people often openly state their opinions on particular matters, it was perhaps natural that us friends with similar viewpoints came together to establish this organization. The leader of our group is Yuchan Kim, an upperclassman really close to me from HAFS. (He represented Korea in 2019 WSDC, and also helped me a lot in many ways. You'll probably see his name pop up in some of the other posts; anyways, he is a very cool person)

Okay, I digressed a lot. So what was our presentation about? It was mainly motivated by an American non-profit organization named "Back on My Feet."

(you can see it here-->

So, Back on My Feet is an organization that seeks to combat homelessness by the power of running, community support, and essential employment. The organization identifies the core problem of homelessness as a lack of community support, such as stigmatization and incapable government policies.


In fact, while preparing for this presentation, we interviewed a few homeless people at a subway station. What was very surprising was that most of them were very different from the common images of "homelessness." Most of them weren't a problem of indolence or incapability; there were homeless people who used to have white-collar job in a big company as well! Rather than lazy people with distaste towards society, they had normal backgrounds, a decent level of education, and the desire to begin work! But the problem was that these people did not have workplaces that would accept homeless people. While talking to these people, I learned that there is nothing such as "homeless" qualities, but rather any one of us, no matter how wealthy or capable, can become homeless. The actual problem was that once one falls into homelessness, it pulls you deeper and deeper into itself like a swamp.

Therefore, the organization operates through three levels. First, when a homeless person registers for its program, one must run with other participants every morning for a month. In this process, many find a meaning in life, retrieve a balanced lifestyle, and abstain from addictive drugs. If one participates more than 90 percent, than he or she can move onto the second level of education. The mentors in the program group up with several participants, and create a roadmap to employment and teach skills that are essential for employment. Finally, with this education, corporations that are partners with the organizations interview the participants, and finally employ them. When participants succeed in their jobs, they come back as mentors, so there is a beneficial cycle.

Note that the charm of this program is that it teaches one how to fish, rather than merely give the fish. Thus, we benchmarked their solution and proposed to the ministry to create a government-lead version of Back on my feet in Korea.

The officials there claimed that it was a great idea, and that they will actively discuss it with the minister! They also gave us their business cards.

Our group photo.

I just noticed that I look like an employee at the ministry

When going to the venue, one of our member's mother had a very big car, so we went to the ministry easily thanks to her. After arriving, we sat down at a cafe together to finalize our presentation. We chilled a bit there, and went to the ministry to actually present. At the venue, we had to hand in our passports and register our names. We used fingerprints to register (!!) and entered the ministry. Finally, after the event ended, we went to a Korean bbq restaurant.

While the preparation process was quite hard, we enjoyed the entire process and


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