By Keish Kim | New Organizing Project blogger
When you open the door to the Korean Resource Center in Los Angeles, you will immediately feel like you entered into someone’s home. There is a couch on your left, table with all of this week’s papers, and a door to a garden that opens up on the other side of the room. You also see a small shoe closet overflowing with different colored shoes. This means that when coming into KRC, you have to take off your shoes! (sometimes people forget and we have to kindly remind them)
If you were lucky enough to visit KRC this past summer, I would have personally greeted you because my desk was moved to the main area. Behind me, and adjacent to me, were two seniors who also welcomed walk-in community members who came seeking help.
For me, each day would start with me waking up, walking downstairs (KRC provided housing, which happened to be part of the building right next door), getting a bowl of cereal and taking it to my open work area. A “Good morning, how are you today?” would be exchanged between the seniors (Mr. Cho and Mrs. Lee), and myself, which always started my day on a bright note.
Once I started up my super slow computer and settled in, DJ would walk by and say “Oh, good morning Keish.” Although DJ is KRC’s executive director, he always insists on, “Just call me DJ”, so we do.
If I am early, I will see our staff members slowly come in. Hee-Joo ssi is our kick-butt program director/superwoman, because no one messes with Hee-Joo unnie; Jongran ssi, our community health education organizer with her five kids, or as we call them, ‘the Jongran 5’; Jaye, the new special events coordinator who labeled herself as an intern to fit in when I was there ^^; Yongho ssi who always comes in with his nifty red bike pack and his red helmet (although I heard his bike is sick and in a repair shop), and his trusty partner, Dayne-Big Person (a word play with his Korean name Dae-In which could mean big person). Yongho and Dayne are both the civic participation coordinators for KRC. Our newest addition includes Asuka who coordinates the AAPI Families campaign and awesome possum Jenny, who is our legal advisor, waiting for her bar exam results. We are all hoping that she passes so cross your fingers with us because we really need a lawyer in the house!!
While I was working alone on an “island” because my new desk was in the main walk-in/living room area, my fellow co-interns would also come visit and say hello time to time.
You all know Harry by now. He is the civic participation intern, but we worked together as a team during the deferred action-packed months of July and August. There also was Susie, who was the Summer Youth Empowerment Program (SYEP) coordinator/intern. We worked together with SYEP youth from Thursday to Friday. Jaye joined us later on as well ^^. Andrew and Scarlette were our naturalization interns. They worked closely with Hee-Joo ssi, and pulled off an amazing naturalization clinic in Orange County last month. There is Omar, who works with Yongho and makes all the e-newsletters you get time to time. He also works on a lot of the website features when you visit www.krcla.org. Kate is our senior housing intern and she works with Jongran ssi and many of our senior volunteers. Sometimes I am jealous of all the love she gets from the elders. ^^
If it was a Monday morning, we have our weekly cleaning schedule. Everyone had a designated area and we would clean KRC just as we do in our own homes. Tuesdays were my cooking day. In KRC, we take turns cooking lunch for the whole staff. So I leave my station at 11:00am to start preparing lunch with my cooking partner Harry! At noon, Harry would use the intercom to announce “lunch is ready” and everyone would walk into our cramped green kitchen. Our signature dishes I think were Harry’s perfectly rolled eggs ( 계란말이) and my spicy mixed stew (부대찌게). Wednesdays, Harry and I washed dishes.
During the deferred action hotline, I had my laptop out, taking incoming calls through skype. And during DA clinics, I would have to multitask from filling out applications to taking calls and addressing our volunteers. At times, we would work after 5pm or go out to eat dinner with fellow interns and resume debriefs while happily drinking boba tea. Work was exhausting but having such great work dynamic between interns helped me get through so much.
Thinking back now, as I am writing this on my way to Syracuse University, I really miss my KRC family. We had so many adventures cooking, eating and washing dishes together. We went grocery shopping, cleaned our house every Monday morning and held lots and lots of meetings with each other. Aside from all the community members I had the opportunity to meet and learn from, I am so glad I got to meet the KRC family. And if you ever get the chance to meet our family members in person, I strongly encourage you to do so. KRC is always in need of walk-in volunteers and interns to be part of the family!