Do you ever wonder who the people at NAKASEC and our affiliate centers, KRC and KRCC, are? Not just the staff, but the community members, volunteers, interns and board members? Well they are the ones who keep us grounded, help drive our campaigns and keep us motivated. You may have seen our seniors on the State Capitol fighting against budget cuts, our young people dancing, singing and shouting out for youth rights or our children playing poongmul (Korean drums) at rallies and marches.
Well, in order for you to get to know us better, we are rolling out our #meetNAKASEC Fridays where we will profile one person within our network.
Today, we’re featuring Hyun Kyu (aka Kevin) Lee, KRC‘s Immigrant Rights Project intern! We hope you enjoy!
Q: What’s your name?
A: My Korean name is Hyun Kyu Lee and my American name is Kevin. Interestingly, I noticed throughout growing up in the states that Hyun is a pretty hard name to pronounce in English, I have been called anything ranging from Juan to Hi-Un.
Q: Where are you from?
A: I was born in Incheon, Korea a city near the western shores of Korea, and is close to Seoul. Its known for the Incheon International Airport, and for being the home of “salty boys” as other regions call those that are from Incheon.
Q: How did you get involved with KRC, KRCC and/or NAKASEC?
A: After I graduated from high school in 2008, I attempted to apply to various community colleges, and the college that I decided on did not accept AB540 forms and didn’t even know about the law. My father had heard of the KRC a while back but because I was too shy to call, my mother called KRC. Eventually, with the help of KRC, after contending with the school several times, I was able to get into my community college as their first AB540 student. However, even after transferring to UCLA , I avoided most group or organizational activities. It was not until the KRC Workshop in April 2011 that I got to see the faces of AKASIA volunteers that contributed their time and effort that gave me the push to be more involved with AKASIA and KRC.
Q: What was one of the first actions or campaigns you remember being involved in?
A: I think the very first action I remember being involved in was the clothing sale for the Dream Scholarship Fund. The fact that just a handful of youth could muster up a fundraiser of such scope was just amazing, and going around all over Koreatown from churches to markets and out in the streets with signs to promote the fundraiser was a completely new and an eye opening experience.
Q: Why do you do the work that you do with KRC, KRCC and/or NAKASEC?
A: When I was interviewed for the Immigrant Rights Project Intern position, I was told by Jani Kim, the Immigrant Rights Project Coordinator, that in order to help others you have to help yourself. I think I do the work of helping out with AB540 consultation log and other immigrant-related things, because in the process, there is so much opportunity to learn and improve myself as well as help with problems that many undocumented people in our community face.
Q: Tell us of a memorable moment with KRC, KRCC and/or NAKASEC
A: The most memorable moment with KRC would be the New Years Day hike up the Griffith Park. At first, having to wake up so early, and having to hike made it seem like there was nothing really special going on. However, after seeing all the people that have gathered, and listening to the Korean instruments played by the young kids, I knew that this moment was going to be special. Waiting in darkness and cold to get a glimpse at the sun was ecstatic, because it sort of reflected my own reality of remaining in the shadows as an undocumented student who was never involved. However, seeing the sunrise with people affiliated with KRC and many others from the community, I learned that there is warmth to be found among others and being involved with the community. Also, this moment was especially eventful as it was actually the first sunrise that I got to see with my family since we came to the states 12-13 years ago with all the hopes, dreams, and passions that my parents carried with them.
Q: What hope do you see for the Korean American community?
A: I know that there has been a lot of progress for the Korean American community, but I also know that important changes in the future will not come without effort. I hope to see that small and accumulative contributions from many individuals from our community will turn into big accomplishments for the Korean American community in the future.
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: I would like to trade places Ash Ketchum, the main character from the cartoon series, ‘Pokemon.’ Although Ash faces a lot of challenges throughout his life, he never gives up on his passion, hope and desire to become the Pokemon master, his ultimate goal. There are moments where it seems as if all hope is lost and defeat seems inevitable but in the end, Ash holds dear to the Pokemon that he believes in and carries through. Maybe it’s not that I would actually like to become a cartoon character, but that I would like to see my passions carried out just like Ash.
Q: What is your comfort food and why?
A: My comfort food is probably either kimchi jigae or pho. The reason is because my mother and I always ate either of these two during rainy days, so whenever it rains I remember those precious moments, which makes me feel comforted on the inside.
Meet other folks at KRC, KRCC and NAKASEC!