My name is Jailene Ochoa (left, in the picture), and I am a second-generation Ecuadorian-American. In the fall, I will be attending Northwestern University!
Where are you from?
I was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota but I moved to Chicago when I was six. My family goes to Ecuador every few years to visit my grandparents and other family there.
What do you do?
At KRCC, one of my favorite things to do is voter registration. While it makes me nervous at first, it always turns out to be an amusing experience and I surprise myself at just how confident I am by the end of the day. I am also part of KRCC’s youth group FYSH, where the youth organize campaigns based on current issues. Through FYSH, we also plan Coffeehouse, an annual fundraiser that is raising funds for a DREAM scholarship this year.
Outside of KRCC, I am always busy with two jobs and extracurriculars taking up most of my time. On Sundays, I take a hapkido and taekwondo class at KRCC. At my high school, I dance in Tari Saman, an Indonesian traditional dance that mostly involves the use of one’s arms and hands. Any free time I can get is usually spent on trips to my favorite dumplings restaurant with my friends.
How did you get involved with NAKASEC/KRCC/KRC?
I first got involved through the traditional Korean drumming program that was offered by After School Matters. I was always interested in learning more about Asian cultures so I thought that it would be a wonderful opportunity. Through drumming, I received opportunities to become more and more involved in KRCC and I have been drumming for more than a year now.
How would you describe your community?
While I identify with the Ecuadorian-American community, my family is not very connected to the community as a whole. For me, KRCC is a part of my community. It is a place where I feel safe, welcome and that I can always contribute. The wide range of people that I have met through volunteering and drumming at KRCC are all people that I am glad to have met and I hope that KRCC will continue to be a part of my life even as I go to college.
Once, while letting voters know about early voting that was occurring nearby, I ran into my Japanese teacher which was a bit of an awkward experience.
What do you think is the civil issue of the day?
Immigration reform is what I believe to be the civil issue of the day. Families are being ripped apart every day, and politicians seem to be making very little progress towards providing lasting relief and reform. Even small steps like ethnic studies classes, which allow immigrants to learn about their own history have faced backlash in places like Arizona, Angry rhetoric is painting these immigrants as “un-American” when they are the ones that most embody the American spirit in the first place.
What is something you are looking forward to this summer?
I am going to be taking a summer course in Chinese in St. Louis! I also am looking forward to spending more time with my family and friends, especially before leaving for college.