Offering Korean Elderly Free Checkups

A student from KGSA offers a dental consultation at a free health checkup event held  Feb. 28 at a senior center in Corona (Photo courtesy of KCS Korean American Senior Center of Corona)

A student from KGSA offers a dental consultation at a free health checkup event held Feb. 28 at a senior center in Corona. (Photo courtesy of KCS Korean American Senior Center of Corona)

“Volunteering and networking at the same time… Isn’t it like killing two birds with one stone?”

The Korean Graduate Students Association (KGSA) at New York University (NYU) held a free health checkup event, offering dental and other services to seniors. The event was sponsored by the Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York (KCS), which held the event at the Korean American Senior Center of Corona on Feb. 28. The head of KGSA, Simon Kwon, 31, emphasized, “When you hear ‘networking,’ you think of just hanging out, like partying. Students from diverse fields gather, get to know each other while volunteering and donate their skills to the community at the same time. Isn’t that real networking?”

During the event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., a total of 70 volunteers consisting of 20 students from NYU College of Dentistry, other NYU graduate school students, doctors who practice oriental medicine and physical therapists provided dental treatment and other health consultations to 150 elderly people. Students organized meals, games such as Korean chess and Go, as well as numerous prizes. The volunteers also sent the elderly participants 150 thank-you notes, which moved them.

President Kwon, a junior in the Performing Arts Administration, said, “We hosted this event to thank the first generation which struggled to settle [in the U.S.]… It took three to four months to prepare for this. It is especially meaningful because students did everything from planning to the execution.”

KGSA has continued to do outreach, such as holding a musical concert for elderly people at DeWitt Rehabilitation & Nursing Center in Manhattan with EnoB, a nonprofit organization [reaching people in need] with art and culture, on Dec. 24 last year. KGSA is preparing for an event on April 10 in which the Korean tradition will be introduced to other ethnicities.

Kwon said, “We are going to teach students from other ethnicities how to make Gimbap [Korean roll dish made with rice, seaweed and various other ingredients] and how to wear Hanbok [traditional Korean dress]. In fact, we are learning more from volunteering than we give.” According to Kwon, 1,000 graduate students are enrolled in KGSA, which was authorized by NYU in 1987.

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