A little about me
My name is Alyson! The youngest of four, I was born and raised in the Chicago land area. I went to the University of Illinois at Chicago and received my BFA in Industrial Design in 2013. During my time there I was heavily involved in the Asian American community, I was an orientation leader, and studied abroad to Melbourne, Australia.
Since graduation I’ve held a tossed salad of jobs including working at UIC’s women’s center, Uber, YMCA drop-in daycare, selling roses, pet sitting, and working as a file clerk for an insurance company. I’ve spent some of that time unemployed going through the roller coaster of life, searching for meaning, and getting my feet back underneath me.
Extremely curious, I’m always questioning how things are and why they are the way they are. I am fascinated with biotechnology and public health (cyborgs and zombies), and have insatiable wanderlust. I have a terrible sense of smell, and I probably share too much for my own good. For my life I hope to be a force of good in an ever changing world, creating inclusive spaces for people, and helping build (and be a part of) strong, loving communities.
The Young Adult Volunteer program was an answer to a prayer for me. I hope to spend my life learning about people and culture, and dedicating my life to service to others. The YAV program provides a supportive first step into this world with a framework of reflection and social justice, and very importantly respect for those we work with. I have had two years time to reflect on if this was the path I’ve been called to walk, and now here I am.
Where I’m going
As the program description on the YAV website explains, “Rapid economic development has provided both striking wealth and immense poverty. YAV site partners help us to consider the cost to human rights and dignity of unbridled neo-liberal capitalism and help develop relationships with the minjung of Korea (downtrodden, marginalized, suffering, etc.). Minjung theologians remind us that God calls us to recognize how those less privileged than ourselves can be the face of Christ for us, a source of theology, and our salvation, rather than merely recipients of the charity of the more wealthy.”
I am ready to step out of my comfort zone and go to a country where I am new to the culture and language. As the only Chinese American YAV in South Korea for the year, my experience will be shaped by my ethnicity, race, language skills, and gender that will differ from my fellow YAVs. I’m thrilled to be able to examine this in the first person and reflect upon this experience.
What I’m doing
The Young Adult Volunteer program chooses sites that are in need of reconciliation and focuses on the root causes of poverty. The site placements in South Korea all work with children around ages 7 to 13. The families we will work with cannot afford after school activities, so we will help facilitate games, arts, music, English language and more. We will also be volunteering once a week at a soup kitchen. My particular site is TBD, but as I learn so shall you.
On top of our work, there is also a Hannam University buddy system where a university student will help us with communication, translation and other things. We will be taking a semester of intensive Korean language class as well.
How you can help
There are a few ways that you can support me and be a part of my journey.
-Pray for me!
Through culture shock, homesickness and other hurdles it is immensely important for me to know that people out in the world care for me while I’ll be on the opposite side of the planet from home. Your thoughts and prayers are always appreciated.
-Follow my blog, or invite me to speak to your church about my journey
I would be happy to have more people follow my journey in the things I learn and experience. If you think your church congregation would be interested in joining my journey or helping support me, I would happily share what I am doing with them.
Your financial contribution would be a concrete way of helping me and this fantastic program cover costs. Each international YAV needs to raise $4,000 for themselves and $4,000 for our site as a whole. The first $2,000 needs to be raised by July 1st, 2015. This is only a small portion of the cost of the program per person as each person costs about $20,000 to $28,000 a year. Without help like yours I wouldn’t be able to be on this journey. Any help would be a huge blessing.
You can donate to me here, or send a check to:
Presbyterian Church (USA)
P.O. Box 643700
Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700
with the memo: “Alyson Kung E210908”