Sophomore builds camps in Siberia

 10:53:19 AMBy Jack Davis

    In the northeast corner of the world lies the desolate Siberian tundra, where the winters are long and the summers are short, where the wind-chill is so intense that bare skin can freeze in 30 seconds. 
    But Cindy Ok ’10 was prepared for these conditions as she made the tundra her temporary home for a month this summer to work on a community service experience: building camps for underprivileged Siberian children.
    Ok and her group, Teen Missions International, trained in Merritt, Florida, for two and a half weeks before flying to Ekaterindurd in Siberia, before the group took a five hour bus ride to the Shadrinsk District in Kurgan region. While Ok and her group knew that building the camp would be difficult, they faced more challenges than expected. Before building the camp, the group had to cut down six feet of grass.
    “We started by digging grass postholes everywhere and filling them up with long pieces of lumber; they served as the foundation. After that we started to build the camp,” Ok said.
    After clearing all the grass, the group then built a pathway for the camp, using 21 tons of bricks that the group had to move and build manually. For two weeks the kids staying at the camp left while Ok and her group built the foundation for the camp.
    Through all the difficulties they faced, Ok and her group had many rewarding moments. One thing that Ok said stands out is telling their story at a local festival in Ekaterindurd. “Somehow the mayor of Ekaterindurd found out about our project and invited us to tell everyone in town what were doing. All the people were really interested in what we were doing, and people would even come watch us work occasionally.”
    “I loved the kids I got to work with,” she said. “When we weren’t working on building I taught some classes. I taught a drama class and played puppets with the kids. Seeing them laugh and smile was great. I just like knowing that I have made a difference in their lives.”