“Encouragement and prayer are a tasty side dish”

“Encouragement and prayer are a tasty side dish”

With COVID-19 hitting, Wollongong University’s Uniting Church Chaplain is helping students learn to cook healthy meals at home.

Rev. Doo Ah Leeming is the Uniting Church Chaplain at the University of Wollongong, a role that she was ordained for in June 2019.

Rev. Leeming told Insights that one of the interrupted services she was providing was a Wellbeing Service that had been running for 10 months.

Along with volunteers from four churches, Rev. Leeming provided on-campus lunches for students on a weekly basis.

“We normally meet in a lecture room from 12:30 – 1:30PM,” she said.

“We have new students join the service so we introduce ourselves and I lead a five minute talk about how to manage stress, followed by ten minutes of fun activities, such as meditating and sharing our emotional response to images, food, and games.”

Lunch started at 1pm, comprising sandwiches, cakes, fried rice and fruits made by  Uniting Church and Korean Church volunteers.

“The Indian students love my Korean spicy kimchi pancakes, (extra spicy for them),” Rev. Leeming said.

When COVID-19 hit, students were affected by the loss of work and the shift to online teaching methods.

“One Korean man, Peter runs a cleaning business in Wollongong provides part time jobs to overseas students. Unfortunately, they are not able to do their part time cleaning work due to COVID-19,” Rev. Leeming said.

“Peter and I are distributing food for those who have lost their part time jobs.”

With the shift to online learning taking place, the Wellbeing Service has also shifted to Zoom.

“I encouraged them to cook at home instead of buying food. That can save on living costs and it is fresh and healthy too. Lowering costs and eating good food, gives them energy, goes a long way to reducing their stress levels.”

When Rev. Leeming demonstrated how to make Korean vegetarian pancakes and put the video on University Chaplaincy Facebook, the positive feedback she received led her to make a roster so that those who attend the Wellbeing Service could show others how to cook their cultural dishes over Zoom.

“The most important thing is cooking delicious, healthy food on a budget; the ingredients should not cost no more than five dollars,” she said.

“All participants enjoy learning cultural dish with original name so we can have an opportunity to learn different language and culture on Zoom.”

“We have ten to fifteen students join in (It depends on their assignments). Food is crucial for young people. In most overseas students live with other students from the same country in a rented house or unit.”

“Therefore, they cook their own cultural dishes, but they have a good chance to learn about different cultural dish on Wellbeing Service.”

“All participants enjoy learning and sharing their own culture.”

“They photograph the screen to record the ingredients and cooking methods.”

“The students are enjoying the Wellbeing Service and looking forward to next week’s dish.”

As well as the Wellbeing Service, the Uniting Church Chaplaincy offers a Yoga class.

“The Yoga class is very popular. One lady who practices Yoga every day, she leads the participants in simple Yoga exercises such as neck and shoulder movement and spinal stretches.”

“It is a great benefit for students. I certainly look forward to the opportunity to do the neck and shoulder exercises.”

Rev. Leeming is providing a service during difficult time for students.

“All students are not only struggling financially but taking lectures online is very challenging,” Rev. Leeming said.

“They have huge pressure and stress, so it is important to listen to them on the phone or give them an opportunity to share their hardship and difficulties over Zoom.”

“Encouragement and prayer are a tasty side dish.”

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