We’re starting a series of blog posts written by our team in Southeast Asia to help to answer some of the questions people have had about the field coordinator position, life in Southeast Asia, and, most importantly, interacting with the refugees that come out through LiNK’s network. Hopefully this will help to dispel some of the fog surrounding this crucial part of our organization!
The field coordinator position is shrouded in mystery. “We can’t divulge this due to the nature of our job” is a phrase we often use when trying to answer questions about it.
However, it’s not all about secrecy! We want to be open about the job as much as possible—not just to shed light on it, but also to inspire the best possible people to join us so we can continue to increase our impact every year.
There tend to be many misconceptions about what our job is or is not, so we’ve tried to shed some light on them in this blog. Keep reading for a list of commonly-held misbeliefs and facts about being a field coordinator:
Myth #1: Field coordinators live in mountain huts with no running water, electricity, or Internet.
Not true at all! Field coordinators need to be well-rested, healthy both in body and mind, and alert. A stipend is allocated from the budget so that our team can find the best living situation possible. Running water, electricity, and Internet are all readily available (the latter being of the utmost importance because we need to have regular contact with family and friends back home)!
Myth #2: Field coordinators have no benefits and are on call 24/7.
Again, not true! Field coordinators need to have a healthy separation from work and their personal lives. It can get a bit hectic during missions, but afterward we are given time off to unwind and enjoy our own lives. We usually spend our free time hanging out at cafés, grabbing delicious meals at our favorite restaurants, working out, or sightseeing.
The field coordinator position also offers benefits, including time off and health insurance.
Myth #3: Field coordinators are at risk of physical danger.
Just like you are never 100% guaranteed safety at home, the situation is the same. However, LiNK has established protocol and procedures in the field to provide the absolute safest environment possible for us. These protocols and procedures are updated and reviewed regularly to keep current with any changes in the environment we work in in order to mitigate any chance that field coordinators may face unexpected situations.
Myth #4: Field coordinators need to have a very specific type of work or educational experience.
This is not true…completely. Yes, it greatly helps if the field coordinator has had prior experience with refugee assistance, social work, or care-taking. It’s also a bonus if they have been involved with LiNK before, whether as a Nomad or intern.
However, just because a person is from a specific educational background does not mean that they are or are not qualified for this position. Past field coordinators have majored in psychology, marketing, and international studies. Some have had military experience. Field coordinators have—and should—come from a wide variety of backgrounds, but the most important qualities they need to have are teachability, flexibility, compassion, empathy, and a highly attuned sense of others’ needs. A certain resume or degree won’t guarantee all of those qualities and we don’t want to miss out on an amazing field coordinator by focusing purely on academics.
Field coordinators also absolutely need to be able to drive and have done so for an extended amount of time so that they are comfortable and calm when faced with all types of distractions and driving situations. Being able to drive stick is also appreciated!
Myth #5: Field coordinators need to be of Korean heritage.
False! Field coordinators do not have to be of Korean heritage, but they absolutely DO need to speak fluent Korean and have a very good existing understanding of Korean culture, society, and mannerisms. Though field coordinators may know Korean very well already, the various North Korean dialects and vocabulary are quite diverse and foreign enough that people fresh to the team tend to struggle comprehending them. Therefore, it’s best to have incoming staff that are already quite comfortable with standard Korean so that they have a strong foundation to build off of.
Korean culture and language haven’t really become hugely popular until recently so even though we expect a more diverse applicant crowd in the future, you’d still be surprised how many people of non-Korean heritage actually know the language and speak it fluently now! And more and more resources are becoming available online to teach Korean to people all around the world.
If you have any questions about our work in the field, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we may write about it in our next blog! If you want to become a field coordinator, start working hard on your Korean, keep being involved with LiNK, and stay in touch—we’d love to hear from you.