Teens, technology and the elderly are not typically a recipe for compassion and patience.
But Hyungjun Hahn, a senior at A.I. du Pont High, is an exception.
After moving to the United States from Singapore in 2013, Hyungjun, who goes by Corey, wanted to socialize more. His mom suggested volunteering.
Instead of picking something where a lot of young people might be, he chose something close to the heart: Helping senior citizens with computer questions and problems through Brandywine Village Network.
Corey, a tech enthusiast, felt compelled to work with Brandywine Village Network because he misses his grandparents in Korea and values the time when they Skype each other.
“I think technology is really important to communicate with other people, and that’s why I especially wanted to help senior citizens with technology,” he said.
The organization serves seniors in northeastern New Castle County as an “Aging in Place” initiative by Jewish Family Services of Delaware. Volunteers offer a wide range of services including transportation, yard work and meal preparation.
He began volunteering in Dec. 2013, and Brandywine Village Network Director Maggie Ratnayake said his service has been invaluable to the community. On Thursdays and Saturdays, he leads one-on-one Question & Answer sessions and teaches seniors how to email, use Facebook, do research on Google and solve other problems. His biggest requests? Simple Google searches and genealogy research on sites like ancestry.com.
Ratnayake said he has developed a following of seniors who specifically request his help. He’s had an impact on reducing seniors’ sense of isolation, too, she said, because they become more confident with technology. In turn, they communicate better with their families and are more updated on the news and entertainment. She called his ability to teach tech-unsavvy seniors “truly impressive.”
“No question is too silly for Corey, making seniors feel at ease working with him,” Ratnayake wrote in an email.
Corey said volunteering has been a learning experience for him too: He had to get comfortable with teaching people, something he’d never done before.
Corey is used to trying new things— he was born in Korea, moved to the states for a few years, then to Malaysia, Korea again, Singapore and now Delaware. Being open to and learning about different places and cultures has shaped who he is today, he said.
At A.I. du Pont, Corey participates in Science Olympiad and the Math League, and he enjoys playing the bass guitar. He’s headed to the University of Delaware in the fall, where he hopes to study engineering or computer science.
For now, he’ll continue helping seniors with their tech questions, to Ratnayake’s delight. “Corey’s volunteer service,” she said, “is exemplary.”