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US Olympian Simon Cho Reaches Out To Youth in Face of Anti-Immigrant State Proposals
Former Undocumented Immigrant Speaks Up for Immigration Reform
Los Angeles –Kicking off Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month on Thursday, May 6 and Friday, May 7, the youngest member of the US Olympic Speed Skating Team and 2010 bronze medalist Simon Cho spoke to about 1,140 people as part of a community tour sponsored by Korean Resource Center and National Korean American Service and Education Consortium (NAKASEC). Simon Cho reached out to Los Angeles students from elementary school- through college-age, as well as to seniors in the Korean American community, to share his struggles growing up in an immigrant family and how he achieved his dreams as a person of color. For most of his formative childhood years, Simon Cho was an undocumented immigrant in America. His accomplishments shine light on what America has to gain when immigrants are welcomed and given a path to citizenship.
After participating in his first Olympic Games, Simon Cho feels a responsibility to stand up as an athlete whose family suffered the consequences of our failing immigration system. He shared his memory of physically crossing the border from Vancouver to Seattle, and answered questions about his personal life, the sport he excels in, financial hardships he faced, and his hope for a better America. Students asked a wide range of questions including,
“Did you ever fall?”
“How did it feel to win the bronze medal?”
“What was your favorite part of the Olympic games?”
“Did you ever break one of your trophies?”
“How old were you when you came to the United States?”, and
“Did you ever get mad at your parents for your undocumented immigrant status?”
Accompanied by staff and organizers of the Korean Resource Center and NAKASEC, Simon spoke with students at Wilton Place Elementary School, Community Magnet Charter School, the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex, and USC 32nd Street School. At UCLA, he spoke at a meet-and-greet organized by KRC’s student group Alliance of Korean American Students in Action (AKASIA), attended by about 70 students of Asian American studies and other networks including UCLA IDEAS who secured the venue. He also visited elderly Korean Americans at Pico Senior Daycare Center.
The week prior, Simon Cho made his debut as an immigration reform advocate in Washington, DC, at a press event sponsored by NAKASEC and affiliates at the offices of the National Immigration Forum. He then met with Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) to remind them of the importance of immigration reform to America. For more, see: https://nakasec.org/1955.
NAKASEC, KRC and AKASIA thanks all schools, groups and individuals, including Simon Cho and his father Jay Cho, who made the community speaking tour an historic success.
NAKASEC is a national organization founded in 1994 by local Korean American community organizations to project a national progressive voice and promote the full civic participation of Korean Americans as part of a greater goal of building a national movement for social change. NAKASEC is a member of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement and the Reform Immigration FOR America coalition.
The Korean Resource Center (KRC, 민족학교) empowers the Korean American, low-income immigrant and people of color communities through social services, education, culture, advocacy, and grassroots organizing. KRC is a founding affiliate of NAKASEC.
AKASIA is a group of Korean American college student leaders that organizes undocumented Korean American students and allies to build a strong network of students with a passion for social justice. AKASIA seeks to unite, educate and engage Korean American students on issues that affect the Korean American community as well as immigrant communities at large. Current campaign efforts include comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act.