This is Jamie Kim: DREAM In Action Awardee

By David Cho
New Organizing Project blogger

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This is a short Q & A with Jamie Kim, who has been nominated to receive NAKASEC and KRCC’s DREAM In Action Award this Saturday in Chicago during the “We Walk One Path United” fundraiser.


Q: What is your name?
A:  My name is Jamie (정은) Kim.

Q: How are you active in the community?
A: I am an outreach intern at Assembly Member Gil Cedillo’s district office (45th district) working on the California Dream Act (AB130 &AB131).  I inform the media, various unions, caucuses and non-profit organizations about the California Dream Act by giving presentations and speaking with local officials as a student representative.  This year, I have gone to Sacramento a few times to advocate and speak in front of the Assembly Higher Education Board in support of the bill. I also give AB540 workshops to students about the AB540 tuition exemption program that is accessible in California, private scholarships and other basic survival skills that may be useful to undocumented students in pursuit of higher education.

I always wished that I had somebody encouraging me to go onto college while providing some resources that may have helped me in the future, especially from a fellow Asian American Dreamer.  Now that I’m in college, I am grateful that I can help others that are finding themselves in the same situation that I was once in. The sooner they receive support and acceptance, the more motivating it may be for these Dreamers to fight for their education.

Q: What is your role at AKASIA?
A: As the current co-chair (with Angela Kim) for the Alliance of Korean American Students in Action (AKASIA), I (with fellow members) often give workshops to AB540-eligible students and organize actions that promote immigrant rights and the betterment of the Korean American Community in partnership with the Korean Resource Center. Our main role is to create a safe environment so that the organization may serve as a support group for undocumented students.  We hope to empower each other and develop future leaders who will serve our community.

Q: When I’m not engaged in the community, you can find me….
A: Hiking, Scuba Diving, playing tennis, exploring new places/cities I have never been to and WATCHING MOVIES.

Q: What is your hope for immigrant students and young people of color?
A: I hope to see more unity with various immigrant students and groups. Even though the Federal Dream Act benefits the diverse undocumented student population, the movement sees a lot of active Latino students, which is great, but it also advertently becomes very ethnocentric.  Therefore, it is easy for non-Latino students to feel alone in the whole process. So being only Asian American in my college dream team, although I loved being part of it, there were a lot of the moments where I felt isolated even among my dreamer peers. I hope that there is more acceptance and outreach to people with different background among these immigrant/activism groups. I value each one of these groups’ cultural identity and style of leadership, but I would like to see more unity and initiative to work together in fighting for the same cause.

Q: If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, with whom would it be and why?
A: ROGER EBERT! I wouldn’t want to trade places with him, but I would like to shadow his day and ask him questions, so that I can get a real sense of who he is.

As stated in the previous question, I LOVE MOVIES! I love the drama, its realness, surrealness, heart-wrenching scores… all of it! Having a movie fanatic dad really took a toll on me.  Growing up, my dad introduced me to an amazing collection of classic movies.

Q: What is your advice to young people who wish to make a difference in the world?
A: Don’t expect and wait for opportunities to find you! Go out and find them yourself! If you are interested in a particular subject or cause, research about it and contact organizations that you would like to become a part of because it is never too late to get in to what you are passionate about.  You never know where things might lead, so seize every moment to learn and network with others.

Also, it is important to realize that everyone has his/her own unique obstacles so the way you can distinguish yourself apart from everyone else is demonstrating how you handled the problem.  Don’t get discouraged from negative experiences, but realize your mistakes and move forward.  Never doubt yourself or think that you are under-qualified.  You have the power to handle every type of situation on your own terms.