Do you know about fig flowers? A fig is known for its sweet flavor, but it seems the fig doesn`t have a flower. So, it is called the ‘no-flower fruit’ in Korea. But the fig flower is hidden in the fruit, it does not appear on the outside. While all other fruits open after flowering, the fig still makes their own blossoms out of our sight.
There are people like figs at Hongik University. They are the cleaning staffs who help us to live in a pleasant environment. Thanks to the cleaning staffs, we live in comfort and enjoy campus life. However, the environment for the cleaning staffs, who are striving for our pleasant environment is not so good. There are a staff lounges for each building and most of those staff lounge is in the stairwells or in warehouse spaces. They are the size of a postage stamp where the staffs rest, with old refrigerators which are not cold. It is a poorly ventilated staff lounge because it might have a small window or no window at all. It is so hot in the summer, and so cold in the winter. Because the cleaning staffs provide comfort for students, some students came out for those who also need comfortable.
Last year, the student council launched with commitment a program to care for cleaning staffs. They started a project called ‘Fig Flower Project’. It was totally led by students from space design to construction including the construction expense. The intention was to expose the cleaning staffs working in a place that can`t be seen.
There is a small room of 5㎡ on the 1st floor of Hongik University Building A. It becomes full when three people lie down. At the corner of the wall, the dust drifts with the wind. The Fig Flower Project, added a ‘little construction’ in this area, by putting a wooden plate to fill the gap where the dust came and went. They also installed a new air conditioner.
At the same time, a ‘little construction’ was also taking place in the staff lounge of the 4th Engineering Building. This room is 6.6㎡ which is slightly wider than the staff lounge in the A building, but the height of the ceiling is about 6m. This lounge didn`t give staff a sense of security. The upper part of the wall was painted dark brown and the lower part was a light color so that the ceiling looks lower. They replaced the old refrigerator, which nobody knew when it was produced, with a used refrigerator, and they also installed an air purifier. Plus, a shelf was placed on one wall to create a storage space for cups and bowls. They laid an electric pad on the floor too.
As we covered this staff lounge, we learned about some of the cleaning staffs struggles and difficulties. Although the students improved the working environment of the staffs it was only on the student`s level. We knew it would also be a great help for school staffs, but what these workers really need is the university`s help. I hope that the communications with the university conclude well and that the workers will go to university with a brighter outlook and feel treated justly
Park Cheoljoo firstname.lastname@example.org
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