NOP3 | Meet Social Justice Camp Representatives from California!

By Jamie Jung Eun Kim | New Organizing Project blogger

Last week, 10 youth leaders from Chicago, Los Angeles, and Virginia arrived in Washington D.C to protect the Maryland Dream Act. They will engage the Maryland Korean American and the Asian American community by educating them on the importance of the Maryland Dream Act which has been halted by a referendum and will be voted on this coming November.

The representatives from California are part of KRC’s Summer Youth Empowerment Program (SYEP) and Orange County Leadership Program (OCLP) and have been participating in phonebanking, canvassing and voter registration for the upcoming statewide November Election.

Today, we’re featuring Ryan Kim, Erin French, Isaac Yi, and Sally Kim, youth representatives from California. We hope you enjoy!

 

 

Ryan Kim
  1. How did you get involved with OCLP?
    Sally told me about OCLP and I figured I might as well do something important on my weekends. Then I found out about Maryland from Dayne (KRC’s Civic Participation Coordinator).
  2. What are two things that you learned from OCLP?
    In OCLP, I learned a lot about how political parties target voters and what kind of things are involved in the voting process on multiple levels. I also was introduced to issues that were more relevant to certain minorities.
  3. Your favorite memory from OCLP?
    I enjoyed the food that we would get at Pomona. It wasn’t the best, but free food always tastes best.
  4. What do you expect from the Maryland trip?
    Probably heat, sweating, and humidity.
  5. What does the DREAM Act mean to you?
    It looks like something that should already be in place and that it’s merely a repair of a system that has an essential component missing.
  6. What does the Korean Community mean to you?
    I try to be balanced and not biased towards a certain ethnic group, but there’s always a greater level of familiarity with the Korean community than among others.

 

 

Erin French
  1. How did you get involved with SYEP?
    My friend Helen was volunteering there and my friends and I started going to hang out and earn volunteer credits. They volunteered there after school on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, but I could only go on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. So I started volunteering there on those days. I was usually alone on Mondays and Wednesdays, other than the staff, so it became more important than just hanging out with friends since I only saw my friends there on Fridays.
  2. What are two things that you learned from SYEP?
    I learned a lot about how hard it is for undocumented students to be able to go to colleges in the US. I had never really considered that before because my family has been here for many generations. I also learned that organizations such as KRC can help undocumented people get basic services like healthcare.
  3. Your favorite memory from SYEP?
    I’m not really sure what my favorite memory from the program is. I had a lot of fun with my friends on the occasions that we did karaoke in NAKASEC. I also had a lot of fun when we were getting donations in front of a Korean market (I forgot the name of the market). We were in two groups at the market, one group in front of the entrance and the other group in front of the exit. We made it into a competition, which I think made us all a lot more motivated. We were asking for the donations in Korean, and a lot of people acted surprised, amused, and pleased to see an African American girl speaking in Korean. My team lost, but I still insist that we were the superior team.
  4. What do you expect from the Maryland trip?
    I expect to learn a lot about social justice, which kind of goes without saying considering the title and reasons for the trip. I also expect to learn a lot about the demographics and laws in Maryland. I hope we can have a positive impact.
  5. What does the DREAM Act mean to you?
    The DREAM Act doesn’t personally affect me because I am not an undocumented student, but it is still rather important to me. I know that I am not a serious student, and I know that a lot of college students don’t take their educations seriously and end up being kicked out of college and left with no choice but community college. It isn’t fair that poor students like that can go to college just because we’re US citizens. A lot of the undocumented students I’ve seen have been very serious students, and they would probably excel in college if they could go. A lot of the poor American students probably wouldn’t even be accepted to most colleges if they were competing with some of the undocumented students for admission.
  6. What does the Korean Community mean to you?
    I am not a member of the Korean community, so I can’t say that it necessarily means that much to me. I am learning Korean in school, I love watching Korean movies and dramas, and I listen to some Korean music, but none of that makes me really and truly connected to the Korean community. I have had a lot of Korean friends, but even that doesn’t really connect me to the Korean community. I feel like KRC does really connect me to the Korean community. The Korean community might not be aware of my existence, but I know that I volunteer for KRC, and that’s what matters. The Korean community was somewhat important to me before in a superficial way, but KRC has made the Korean community very important to me.I am not a member of it, and I know that no matter how connected I feel to them through my work with KRC I never will be a member of the Korean community, but I still feel like I’m in it.

 

 

 

Isaac Yi
  1. How did you get involved with SYEP?
    I have been involved with Korean Resource Center’s Summer Youth Empowerment Program since the summer of 2010 when my mother found this offer for high school students to apply. Afterwards she allowed me to join the application process which had a large pool of other high school student applicants, who were all fighting for a spot. Ever since I made that decision to attend my first SYEP summer, I believe that I made one of the best decisions of my life thus far.
  2. What are two things that you learned from SYEP?
    I have learned so many important lessons of life and the world during my time of 3 years in SYEP. However, there are two clear lessons that I have learned and obtained through this program. One is about the constant struggle that many undocumented people go through in the United States of America. I was first shocked and surprised at this eye-opening issue when I heard and discussed about it. This topic completely reversed many aspects of the United States that I had firmly yet ignorantly believed. The idea that the United States, a land of milk and honey and a country so “great”, could be so false to many of these undocumented people was not a pleasant thought to me. This leads into the second lesson I have learned from SYEP: No change arises from passive wishing and praying. I felt a strong passion that something must be done about the whole topic of immigration and undocumented students. Ever since having this conviction around the beginning of my junior year of high school, I became more politically active within my school, joined a Model United Nations club, and sought out KRC to offer me an opportunity in which I could be of assistance to the undocumented people within our community and elsewhere. On a side note, these two factors had a strong impact on shaping me and forging my future major, career path, and agenda.
  3. Your favorite memory from SYEP?
    My favorite memory of SYEP was the time when the SYEP class of 2011 went on a camping trip together. The time we have all spent at that camping trip reminded me of all of the great things we have done and why SYEP is one of the most endearing things to me.
  4. What do you expect from the Maryland trip?
    I really wish and hope that my efforts and the efforts of all of the other organizations will be able to accomplish what all of us set out to do, which is to provide Maryland a safe space and a community in which undocumented students have the opportunity to attend the states’ top universities. That is my aspiration for this Maryland trip.
  5. What does the DREAM Act mean to you?
    The DREAM Act is a beacon of promise and hope. The DREAM Act is the key to the door for many undocumented youth and I firmly believe that this is a cause that every American should embrace for all undocumented students. Through the DREAM Act, Americans, immigrants, people of color, and etc. could have the same opportunities amongst one another and that is an ideal image that the United States of America should be fighting towards.
  6. What does the Korean Community mean to you?
    A family, friend, and spouse figuratively of course. The Korean Community is a diverse group of people that does not just base itself on ethnicity and culture but on its combined interest and dedication to each other as human beings. The Korean Community has always inspired me to be who I am and its passion for others is a challenge to myself as I hope to retain this identity for and to the people of Maryland.

 

 

 

Sally Kim
  1. How did you get involved with OCLP?
    I learned about this program through a newspaper ad in the Korean Newspaper.
  2. What are two things that you learned from OCLP?
    I learned about our Korean community in Orange County as well as LA county and about the processes of civic participation.
  3. Your favorite memory from OCLP?
    For OCLP it was the Korean Community statistics jeopardy and the voter turnout lecture from Mr. Yongho Kim (KRC’s Civic Participation Coordinator).
  4. What do you expect from the Maryland trip?
    I expect to meet new people and learn to work with others for our goal. Being in Maryland will be a great learning experience for me because I will be able to actually partake in civic participation works that I have learned about.
  5. What does the DREAM Act mean to you?
    The DREAM Act means an opportunity to help the Korean community as well as many other people that would be impacted through this Act. The DREAM Act embodies an American tradition of opportunity and working hard for the future to many people.
  6. What does the Korean Community mean to you?
    The Korean Community is my community and I have gained many opportunities such as the OCLP program and the Maryland summer program through the Korean community organizations such as KRC. The Korean community is my home and also a place where my efforts will go toward the future.