The recent tragedy of an undergraduate in KAIST reached us, and the grief has yet not passed. However, the Undergraduate Student Council took the initiative to help console our minds by reaching out with endearing messages. Since Joonhee Min, who coordinated this act of kindness, was unavailable, The KAIST Herald interviewed the president of the student council, Seung Woo Je.
Hello, could you please briefly introduce yourself to the readers?
Hi, my name is Seung Woo Je, and I am president of the 28th Undergraduate Student Council, Blossom.
Past Thursday (May 1), student council members took it upon themselves to reach its students closer than before by delivering chocolates and letters to each dorm room. How did this idea come about?
We thought it was important to show our peers that there are always people around and meant to give us all something a bit more bright during this dark time of tragedy. Visiting each and every student and personally reaching out to them was something we always thought of, and fortunately, we were able to work together with the KAIST Central Administration, Student Welfare Council, and Imagination Effect (the school’s event planning committee) to realize what would have been otherwise impossible.
Among the letters written by the staff, the one written by the ladies who work in the school convenience stores in particular seems to have touched many students. Why did you choose the university president, dormitory inspectors, and school convenience store ladies to write the letters?
They are the people we live closest to. The president was representative of our professors; dormitory inspectors live in the same dormitories and are a father (or mother) figure, who keep the dormitories safe; and school convenience stores ladies are people we see almost every day, albeit for short durations, and share greetings with. The closeness to these people varies for each student; nevertheless, they are people we see most often in our college lives, and the letters show us just how much we mean to them – that there I always someone who cares about you, even if we do not always realize it.
It is endearing to hear that. Then, are there ways for students to get more practical help in teims of hardship?
For starters, every department has designated professors who are willing to discuss with the undergraduate students concerns regarding their future. Also, the students could go directly to their advisor, dial up the Counseling Center, or visit the KAIST Stress Clinic, where professional help is always available. If you do not know what to do and are simply stuck and confused, the Campus Police is always there to help you as well. Most importantly, everyone should always ask for help from their friends. Among the messages from dormitory inspectors, there was one that rippled through my mind. It said to not be scared of being in debt to others; do not think that relying on another would be a bother to them, and share your hardship with the people around you, like your roommate.
There must have been hard times for you too. How did you get through them?
During my freshman year, my proctor took his life, and it was a great sorrow to us all. Fortunately, my friends from the freshman class were there to share thoughts and talk to each other. Now they have grown to become the friends who I still keep in touch with, and close friends like them provide the greatest consolations. Oprah Winfrey once talked about how together with a friend one can get through something in ten days that would have taken one alone ten years. Do your best to make friends who will share the burden with you, and every hardship will become a moment of growth.
Among those around me, there are people who use the provided counseling services, not because they have serious problems but to receive help on everyday difficulties from professionals who are always willing to lend a hand. Students should not feel repulsed by any negative connotations counseling has and be open for help rather than keeping the worries all pent up inside.
Before closing, are there any other words you would like to share?
The event was the collective work of many different groups, like Student Club Union, Student Welfare Council, Class Representative Association, and more, which is unprecedented apart from the Haeoreum Ceremony. There are many student council members, professors, staffs, and friends who care. Let us all cheer up and try to enjoy the college life that we have.
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