Me with my site coordinator and his son

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

I am going to Daejeon, South Korea with the Young Adult Volunteers.

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 (updated 4/6/2016)

The Young Adult Volunteer program chooses sites that are in need of reconciliation and focuses on the root causes of poverty. The main 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. There are other volunteering opportunities that we have the privilege of participating in also.

I will be working at:

복음행복한홈스쿨 지역아동센터
(Gospel Happy Home School District Children’s Center)

The purpose of this center is to protect and nurture children from low income families, multicultural families, and families with single parents by providing diverse programs and identifying problem areas in health, emotions, and social needs in order for them to grow in a healthy environment. Furthermore, the center offers love and provides for whatever needs are possible for all the children no matter what circumstance they are in. The center also provides support, advocacy, and serves to network with the local community to solve the root of the family issues until the family can restore their healthy functions.

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.

(Saenaru Community Center)

This center is an after school center for children, a soup kitchen, and a church on Sundays. My housemate Linda serves at the children’s center portion, and we, as a house, volunteer every Thursday at the soup kitchen serving the homeless and nearly homeless population of DaeJeon.

(Hannam University Church)

Every Sunday at Hannam University Church we attend services and help support Sunday school. My housemate Linda and I support the elementary school Sunday school.

(Homeless Support Center)

The Homeless Support Center is one of ten centers in Korea. The center provides social workers and help with housing and other support. At this center we volunteer in several different ways. Once a week we run a fitness class. On another day we wash dishes at one the shelter portion of the center. Other volunteering opportunities includes midnight to two a.m. outreach to the homeless and nearly homeless population.

(Migrant Women’s Shelter)

The Migrant Women’s Shelter provides housing, social workers, and other support. The center caters to migrant women who have experienced domestic abuse from their Korean husbands and are seeking shelter. Many of them have children. Here we provide a once a week fitness class and English tutoring. Many of them are learning English as a third language. On the weekend we provide games and arts & crafts for the children.

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.

-Help fund me!

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)
Remittance Processing
P.O. Box 643700
Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700

with the memo: “Alyson Kung E210908”

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