The Day in the Life of a Paralympic Volunteer

Although quite some weeks have passed since the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, let’s bring back the spirit to look at it from a student volunteer’s perspective!

9:00 AM

I wake up in a two-roomed condo at Welli Hilli ski resort that I share with two other KIS-student volunteers and an older French lady.  Most of my volunteer work was scheduled to be afternoon shifts so I could sleep in later than my usual school wake up time.


9:30 AM

The resort provides free breakfast, lunch, and dinner to all Olympic/Paralympic volunteers, so those were our normal go-to meals.  Quick confession though–most times, my roommates and I were too groggy in the morning to go down for breakfast, so we resorted to a quick bowl of cereal or some fruit.  


10:00 AM

I meet up with other KIS volunteers staying at the same resort to go and study for all the school work we’re missing. This is the cafe in the lobby of the resort that became our second home for the two weeks here. It has a mesmerizing view of the large ski resort that made all of our crammed studying less stressful. The ice cream was also super delicious, and all of us probably gained a couple pounds from our daily ice cream sessions.  

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12:00 PM

After a couple hours of silent studying, we head over to the designated cafeteria for our lunch. The food is not the greatest, but it’s free food so nobody complains. We spend our entire lunch talking, and it’s amazing how upperclassmen who were strangers to me the day before quickly became my best friends.  


After lunch, we get ready to ride the shuttle bus to the Olympic Village, which is where my volunteering location is. After gearing up in our full uniform (shown below), we head out to where the shuttle bus stops.  It’s a long and winding road from our resort, and it’s more tiring than you think to walk 15 minutes down a snowy path in snow boots!

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2:00 PM

I arrive at the Olympic/Paralympic Village, ready to check in and start my shift.  But before that, we have to walk some more to actually get to the entrance.

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Everyone is required to go through a security screening, and they’re very picky about what types of drinks are allowed in. Apparently, Coke or Sprite is allowed but regular bottled water is not because Coca-Cola sponsors the Paralympics–I’m still bitter that I had to throw out quite a few bottles of water because of this rule.   

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After security, you walk out to this beautiful open space of all the flags of participating countries and many buildings. Athletes from all over the world are walking past you, and it’s very different to see such a diversity in a rather small area.  

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This is the entrance to the Olympic/Paralympic Village, where athletes and their coaches stay for the entire duration of the games. If you zoom in closely, you can see that country flags are hung upon on the windows of the buildings, representing the nationality of the athletes living in the room.     

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I work in a makeshift hospital in the center of this Olympic/Paralympic village, where all the athletes rely on for their physical and mental wellbeing. It’s composed of two floors, the basement, and the first ground floor. The basement is the home to the dentist, optometrist, and the acupuncture practitioner. The first floor is for more serious matters, including CT and x-ray machines, internal and external medicine doctors, and sports-trauma specialists.  

(Unfortunately, I was unable to take any pictures of the hospital I work at because photography is forbidden to protect the privacy of athletes.)

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3:00-9:00 PM

This is the duration of my actual shift, where I work as a translator (the official title being ‘MED interpreter’) in the hospital to translate for the international athletes, coaches, and staff with the Korean doctors and nurses. Before my first day, I thought,  how interesting can it get?? I mean, I’m only a translator. But immediately after my first couple of hours, I felt the massive effects of being part of such an important and influential international event.

Athletes from all over the world come to the hospital, and I, as a translator, am always the first one to greet them when they come through the door. People from English-centric countries, like the United States or Canada, are very happy to see a fluent English speaker in the midst of Koreans. Athletes from countries like Kazakhstan, China, or the Czech Republic, whose English is just at the point of communication, are just thankful that I am able to communicate with them.

It was wonderful meeting people from countries I’ve always longed to visit, like France or Italy, and countries that I’ve barely heard of before, like Andorra or Georgia.  

The lively spirit of all the Paralympians, despite some physical setbacks they have, is more than enough to cheer me on throughout an exhausting day. It’s amazing how there are so many smiles passed around, even within the nurses and doctors.  

Some people I talk with for a couple seconds before they are sent to an English-speaking doctor, but others I am able to create bonds with. I accompany some athletes throughout their entire duration in the hospital, starting from filling out the necessary forms, getting examined by the doctor, and receiving their necessary prescribed medicine. Although this process takes a maximum of around thirty minutes, it’s fascinating to hear about their childhood, what got them inspired to compete at an international scale, and their experience so far in Korea. Those thirty minutes are priceless; the thankfulness I receive from the athletes after I help them out is so rewarding.  

It’s impossible to put into words my past two weeks of this volunteering experience, but I was full of awe, happiness, and fascination every single day.   

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During our 6 hour shift, we take turns going to dinner in this large dome that is divided into two–half for the athletes and half for the volunteers (pictured below is the volunteer-half of the done). Once again, the food isn’t top quality, but after hours of hard work, all we care about is filling our hungry stomachs. I’ve never experienced this myself, but rumor says that the volunteers can smell the steak sizzling in the athlete-half of the dome while we are greeted by the same food every day.   

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9:30 PM

The shuttle bus that takes us back to our resort leaves the Pyeongchang village at 9:30, and as soon as our heads touch the seats of the bus, we fall into a short sleep for the 40-minute bus ride.


10:00 PM

Usually, I’m exhausted and want to crawl under my covers right away, but sometimes, the entire KIS crew gathers to hang out after our evening shift.  Once or twice during the two weeks, if we all have an off day or an afternoon shift the next day, we went to the pizza/chicken restaurant in our resort for an evening meal. After, we went for either a quick game of bowling or an hour of karaoke until we were completely exhausted.  Those times are a special occasion, however, because most days, we gather at the cafe in the lobby to catch up on more school work. Before we know it, we’re the only ones left in the cafe, and the sound of typing and the flipping of papers is all that fills the empty space.  

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12:00 AM

Thankfully, our rooms are just one elevator ride up from all the business down in the lobby, and we retreat back to our rooms to call it a night. Sharing the same condo with other KIS students for two weeks is surely a load of fun; whether it’s falling asleep on the sofa doing homework or chatting with each other in the dark.

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I won’t remember all of the tiny details of my two weeks when I’m older, but what I will remember are the smiles I received from athletes all across the world, the friendliness of nurses and doctors that worked beside me, and the ups and downs that I went through with my fellow volunteers.  Of course, missing quite a few days of school put me under a load of makeup work and stress, as well as having to give up going to many of my practices and games, but my experience of volunteering for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Paralympics is sincerely irreplaceable.

Top 10 Winter Break Reads

Looking for some books to read over winter break? Grab a warm cup of tea and try these winter break reads!

Winter break is just around the corner—just a couple of days left! As our lives have been inundated with an incessant amount of assignments and exams, we finally have time to take a break from school. One way of resting up over the break for the new year and semester is to read some novels that you couldn’t possibly catch up during school. Below are top 10 novels that I, as an avid reader, recommend to get your mind off from work! 

1. Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Genre: Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Mental Health


Tracing the life of a young boy who has schizophrenia, Challenger Deep takes the readers through the mind of Caden Bosch. As he is sent to a mental hospital for treatment, Bosch creates a second world inside his mind that is unlike reality: he is the artist of a ship that is headed for Challenger Deep, the south of Mariana Trench. Using simple yet beautiful prose, Schusterman leads the readers into a whole new world where imagination and reality are inseparable, whilst he reveals the truth behind the curtains of mental hospitals. A perfect book to get you out of your reading slump!

“Dead kids are put on pedestals, but mentally ill kids get hidden under the rug.”



2. Station Eleven by Emily Mandel


Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction, Dystopian


A seemingly dark and sentimental novel, Station Eleven features a world twenty years after a devastating plague. However, one cannot call it a simple survival novel. Shifting back and forth from the current world where Kirsten, the main character,  watches King Lear to a desolate world where she faces isolation and killings, Mandel compares the modern world to that of an apocalyptic beautifully that it makes us appreciate the things we have today: laptops, phones, and even newspapers, raising important questions about the world: Why doesn’t a desolate world urge people to a common goal? Is it better to govern or be governed? Should we teach the children about the previous world? Poetically writing with the strategic diction and pauses, Mandel crafts the each one of the characters so intricately that the you immediately fall in love with them, a rare occurrence in apocalyptic novels.

““First we only want to be seen, but once we’re seen, that’s not enough anymore. After that, we want to be remembered.”

3. The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan W. Watts

Genre: Philosophy, Spirituality, Self Help


More scholarly than the other books but nevertheless invaluable, this book discusses the need for people to find balance in an age where we worry greatly about the future and the past. It is an excellent book to read especially after weeks of hectic assignments and exams as you can start to apply Watts’s teachings of how to immerse yourself into the present to real life! As a student who is frequently insecure, this book plain spoken to me as it shifted my perspective on how to alleviate the anxieties I face everyday. Although some concepts are abstruse and heavy to comprehend, Watts integrates metaphors to help guide the reader, reminding us the beauty of using metaphors even in non-fiction.

“If, then, my awareness of the past and future makes me less aware of the present, I must begin to wonder whether I am actually living in the real world.”


4. The Color Purple by Alice Walker


Genre: Classic, Fiction, Historical Fictional


Focusing on two colored sisters that live in south side of America, The Color Purple touches on a variety of topics: racism, feminism, and more. The two sisters face grave situations wherein they are harmed and violated by men- one of the reasons why this novel is frequently listed for American Library Association’s Most Challenged Books. Regardless of the graphic language and scenes, the novel has a much deeper side to is as it depicts not only the history of the early 1900s but also the gravity of feminism in its history. The novel may be challenging to read at first as it uses odd formatting, but it gets better as you read. I would recommend that you read the first couple of pages out loud to understand the text.

“I think us here to wonder, myself. To wonder. To ask. And that in wondering bout the big things and asking bout the big things, you learn about the little ones, almost by accident. But you never know nothing more about the big things than you start out with. The more I wonder, the more I love.”

5. Expiration Day by William Powell

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian


Sometimes as high-school students, we are urged to read more classical books like Crime and Punishment and Macbeth. But sometimes, we need to read some teenage novels that brings the nostalgic feelings from our teenage years. A science fiction novel that ties in artificial intelligence with humanity, this novel depicts a world where nearly all the children are robots, except a few of those who are humans. Tania, who believes that she is a human, sets out to discover the reasons behind the division and whether or not she is truly a human. This novel is much more in-depth compared to what I first believed as it questions the existence of humans and our lives if we cannot distinguish between AI’s and humans.

“What rational being would willingly enter a relationship that’s guaranteed to end in sorrow? Grieving husband buries wife, or vice versa. Or they divorce. But we marry anyway. Because even death and divorce is better than loneliness.”

6. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Genre: Mystery, Fiction, Thriller


Need something that will keep you on the edge of your seat? Well, The Girl on the Train is the right book. Riding the same commuter everyday, Rachel watches a young couple from a distance for a few split seconds every day and imagines them to be a perfect couple. However, one night, as Rachel forgets her actions, she entangles everyone into an investigation, including the couple she saw. Told through three perspectives, the novel gets perplexing at times; nevertheless, the characters and plot are well-constructed that you start becoming eager for the next page. Great book that will make you stay up till 3 am!

“Hollowness: that I understand. I’m starting to believe that there isn’t anything you can do to fix it. That’s what I’ve taken from the therapy sessions: the holes in your life are permanent. You have to grow around them, like tree roots around concrete; you mold yourself through the gaps”

7. What if? by Randall Munroe

Genre: Science, Humour


For science nerds and non-science lovers alike, this book is an intriguing book for you to engage in your passion or just to learn about the science behind the world. Ranging from questions like ‘ From what height would you need to drop a steak for it to be cooked when it hit the ground?’ to ‘Is it possible to build a jetpack using downward firing machine guns?’ this book has great value to it since you can learn about scientific facts, both basic and complex. It can also build your common sense about the world, too!

“But I’ve never seen the Icarus story as a lesson about the limitations of humans. I see it as a lesson about the limitations of wax as an adhesive.”


8. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes


Genre: Romance, Fiction


If you think this is a cliche teenage romance novel like The Fault in the Stars, you’re wrong. Me Before You  has much more depth and meaning, at least to me, than just simple love line; it reminds us about what it means to have a voice, a choice in life. Featuring a rather ill-tempered, disabled man and a young, energetic woman, the book shows the two fall in love despite the barriers that separate them. The male protagonist’s decision at the end of the novel just plain spoke to me about how precious and beautiful the choices we make in life are, and that sometimes, you can’t make someone to become the person you want. You’ve got to read it and experience it for Moyes creates the two characters elegantly and builds up to the climax beautifully. Even the conversations between the the two will make you weep in tears.

“How could you live each day knowing that you were simply whiling away the days until your own death?”


9. Harry Potter by J.K Rowling


Genre: Fantasy


Why not throw in a childhood favorite? As you probably know or heard, the Harry Potter series is a phenomenal book for many children. Students, however, never really get the chance to re-read those books that we used to read since we are so focused on academics. However, this winter, take the opportunity to rekindle the memories of your childhood while remembering Hermione’s sassy line, “It’s LeviOsa, not LeviosA,”and the enchanting wonders of Hogwarts!

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”


10. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown


Genre: Self Help, Psychology


One of my all-time favorites, Daring Greatly discusses the importance of building shame resilience, revealing ourselves authentically, and being vulnerable. She explains how vulnerability lets us connect with one another and build compassion, whilst hiding our weakness and imperfection would make us isolated. Touching on a variety of subjects like sexism and parenting, this novel is continuing to help me grow confidence and acceptance of who I am. Strongly recommended to all students—don’t fear your imperfection, just accept who you are! Perfect book to end 2016 and kick-start to 2017!

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity.”

As high school students, it is no doubt difficult to fit in reading time with the large amount of assessments. Yet with the winter break approaching, you can catch up with all the reading you missed out on—and possibly even accomplish your reading goal! Regardless of which you books you read, I am sure that they will give you a new perspective wherein you can learn and empathise with.

—Sarah Se-Jung Oh (’19)

*Banner: Crescentia Jung (’19)

How to Transition Your Wardrobe Effortlessly From Fall To Winter

Is it too cold yet? Is it only a little chilly? It’s a good idea to pay attention to this guide for f/w wardrobe transition.

Even state-of-the art weather forecast apps aren’t accurate enough for Mother Nature’s whims, just like every one of you who probably stepped out in a lightweight fall ensemble the very day it decided to switch to winter. Without warning, a silk scarf, a skimpy corduroy mini skirt, and a denim jacket wouldn’t cut it — even if the combo is #OOTD gold. Because thin, barely-there layers won’t stand a chance against the thick sweaters and fur coats as we start plowing through the chilling months, it’s time to bulk up your arsenal with winter-proof upgrades, and ditch the classic fall standbys. Once you start incorporating these seasonable wardrobe changes, you’ll be ready to face winter’s most frigid days while still being able to remain chic as ever. And fortunately, it only takes a few key pieces of clothing accessories to easily make that fashion transition. Who said change is hard?
Out with: Thin pullovers
In with: Chunky sweater
Leave light layers behind in favor of lush, chunky sweaters – it’s now cold enough to stash all your sheer, thin clothing in the back of your closet. If cotton frocks are your go-to, consider swapping in the dresses with a more substantial texture, like velvet or corduroy.


Out with: Flimsy sandals
In With: Chelsea boots
It’s time you put away your thin, sleek ballet flats for lace-up oxfords or even better, black ankle boots that will prep you to deal with slick, icy street grounds. They can range from thick Doc Martens to clunky steppers – everything that you own from the autumn season already!


Out with: Warm Earth Tones
In with: Deeper Color Palate
The warm earth tones of fall are typically replaced during winter with deep indigo, crimson, shimmery gold and crisp iPod-white to complement the season. Add a charcoal gray wool tunic, a navy blue peacoat or a pair of orchid-purple pumps to your wardrobe to represent the current color trends and to get through the winter blahs.


Out with: Single-piece Cardigan
In with: A Staple Statement Coat
Much of your wardrobe works for both seasons, but your winter coat is your statement piece and serves as a canvas for broadcasting your personal style, so take full advantage of it. Unlike fall when you can get away with donning a lightweight knitwear or cardigan on colder occasions, you probably need a proper coat that is wearable everywhere even in the coldest months. Opt for a neutral shade that goes with everything, such as matte black or slate gray, or take this chance to sprinkle some color over your normally muted winter wardrobe, such as indian pink or a toned down mustard.

2013 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Whenever the seasons shift, the vast majority of us find ourselves fumbling through our closets, plagued by confusion, not sure whether we should dress for the current season, the upcoming season, or some weird hybrid of the two (if that is even possible). Because transitional seasons are always so difficult, we always come up with a series of questions: do you dress for the weather or the season? How do you look fashionable and timely when the temperature and season of the year seems to be clashing? Don’t sweat it, mind your fabrics, work those wool, and say goodbye to fall. After all, a smooth transition to winter comes down to identifying how you want to spend your time and creating wise new style habits for the next four months.

– Ashley Kim (’18)


KIS Winter Survival Guide 101

We’re done with autumn; now it’s winter time!

November literally flew by, and we’re already into December. And you know what this means; it’s the beginning of the ever so dreaded long, loong, looooong, freezing cold winter of everybody who lives in South Korea experiences. Are you ready to fight the extreme temperature drop, the freezing sky bridge walks, and of course, the classrooms with barely-working heaters? If not, here’s a survival guide to help you through KIS winter; may the odds be ever in your favor!


1. Varsity jackets? Padding jackets?

Let’s start with the basics: your outerwear. As a KISian, you’ve probably seen 90% of the students wearing their varsity jackets during the winter. Honestly, varsity jackets keep you extremely warm. But if you don’t have one, don’t worry. You’ve also probably seen countless students from Korean schools wearing their padding jackets. Down jackets are usually quilted and filled with down feathers, which are great for thermal insulation. With the extreme winter that hits South Korea every year, many famous brands such as Descente, The North Face, and Adidas all come out with brand new lines of padding jackets. So whether it be your varsity jacket or padding jacket; make sure to wear what keeps you warm!

Heesun KIm ('17) and Lynn Baik ('17) know how to stay warm!
Heesun Kim (’17) and Lynn Baik (’17) know how to stay warm! (JohnDavid Choi, ’18)

2. Warmers

Warmers, or scarfs, whatever you want to call them; they’re pretty much vital to survive the winter. Keeping your neck warm makes a huge difference in the overall warmness of your body, and you really don’t want to be the only one with chattering teeth. Plus, they come in so many colors and styles. Whether it be red, black, or white. Whether it be an infinity scarf, or a wrap scarf. I guarantee you’ll find the perfect combination you’re looking for. Hunt around places like Gangnam, and get the warmer that will help you survive the winter!

Bryan Kim ('18) feels sleepy, but warm!
Bryan Kim (’18) feels sleepy, but warm! (JohnDavid Choi, ’18)

3. KIS Go-to-places

Some places in KIS are extra warm, and this list just might help you overcome the winter. First off, Mr. McClure’s room is always exceptionally warm (maybe even a little too warm). I don’t know what’s up with his heating system but students usually find themselves sweating in his class, and end up taking off their jackets. But he sometimes opens his windows, and that drops the temperature right back down, so be careful with that! The individual practice rooms can also potentially keep you warm because you can control the temperature on your own (with the heater), and you’re confined in a small space where the heater can quickly take over. Other than those two rooms, I also recommend the theatre room, and of course, the beloved cafeteria.

4. Uggs

I know, uggs are so last year. But what can I say; they’re so freakin’ warm. You’re better off wearing uggs in the winter over sneakers. Also, avoiding chilling your feet isn’t simply a matter of whether you’re warm or cold. According to Ronald Eccles, Ph.D, of Cardiff University, “chilling the feet causes vasoconstriction in the nose”, and “[this] has two common cold-producing effects”, which are the reduction of “immune cells available in the nasal epithelium”, which, inevitably, allows infectious viruses to easily attack our vulnerable bodies. Complicated terms and language aside, cold feet can lead to sickness, and we really want to avoid this; winter cold can get you pretty bad, and it can weaken your body a lot! Basically, the lesson here is: wear uggs!

Stephanie Cha (’18) with her fluffy uggs. (JohnDavid Choi ’18)

5. KIS Must-avoid-places

Of course, KIS also has the complete opposite, absolutely freezing places. The quite obvious one are the two sky bridges; they’re absolutely freezing. You’ve probably encountered the cold breeze that you have no idea where it came from when you’re walking over to the H building from the G building. With the windows on both sides of the bridge, it’s inevitable for the sky bridges to be cold; so walk through them as quickly as possible before you start shivering. Other places to avoid (if you can) include the conference hall area, the first floor of the H building, and the gyms. Of course, if you’re actually exercising and playing sports, the gym will likely not feel cold. But if you aren’t, it’s definitely not the best place to go to if you want to stay warm!

The winter we experience as KISians may not always be the winter wonderland we yearn to be in. However, we’re lucky enough to be treated by Student Council with hot chocos, hot packs, and the winter ball. See, winter isn’t so bad. Plus, you have this survival guide; so have no fear. Make the best of the season, and stay warm so you don’t catch a cold! Happy Winter!

– Leona Maruyama (’17)

Featured Image: Tumblr