Kyuhoon’s involvement in service as a first-year student at Vanderbilt was a continuation from his pre-college experience in service; in high school he was inspired by the desire to improve his mother’s status as an immigrant to Korea in serving the immigrant and culturally disadvantaged population in his home nation. When he first arrived in Nashville, or more broadly the U.S., he sought to develop upon this familiarity by identifying the population in similar needs.
The local Nashville Chinese School provided Kyuhoon with an opportunity to expand his service experience. Guided by Irene Moser, the School principal and herself an immigrant to America with Taiwanese origin, Kyuhoon started his weekly service at NCS in August 2012. The job first started with mostly chores and general assistance, such as installing class equipment, making copies of class materials, and helping with computers and printers.
The depth of the involvement gradually increased as he started to develop personal connection with the students and parents of NCS. Understanding each student’s family background and the parents’ motivation for sending their kids to NCS allowed Kyuhoon to engage with them at a deeper, personal level. In this way, Kyuhoon broadened his perspectives and deepened his understanding of the culturally diverse population outside his home country.
Despite his desire to deepen his engagement and relationship with the Nashville community, Kyuhoon decided to fulfill his two-year military service duty before further proceeding into his academic and service pursuits. In August 2013, Kyuhoon enlisted in the Republic of Korea Army as an English Interpreter and was subsequently stationed in the Army Headquarters. His duty was to provide service support at Military History Institute and included translating, transliterating, and transcribing U.S.-published documents and oral testimonies relating to the Korean War of 1950 and assisting in the publication of a War History textbook distributed to NCO and officer candidate-students.
Kyuhoon also envisioned to continue serving in the base by starting his own English tutoring club in the Battalion barracks where he served as an EM self-governance board member. Under the Battalion Commander’s approval and support, Kyuhoon created a class curriculum for ten soldiers who asked to join the club and held 24 four-hour weekly classes from October 2013 until he was discharged in May 2015. His class focused on free talking and making logical persuasions in English and discouraged soldiers from memorizing complicated grammars—Kyuhoon deemed this to have adverse effects in learning a language. Upon his retirement as a Sergeant, Kyuhoon was mentioned by the Company Commander of the barracks and cited by the Commanding General of Military History Institute for his service.
Having finished his service duty, Kyuhoon is excited to return to the Vanderbilt community where he will resume doing what he loves. Specifically, Kyuhoon wishes to incorporate into his volunteerism a component of the financial and quantitative analysis skills he learned in a peer learning club during his military service. These economic ideas have pushed Kyuhoon to evaluate people’s quality of life with economic and financial realities. In the future, Kyuhoon would like to see himself incorporating those components into broadening his service commitments, while utilizing the living skills he harvested during the two-year gap under a regulated environment.