But if you asked me 4 years ago what I thought about North Korea, I wouldn’t have said a thing. Because I knew NOTHING. I don’t mean like oh I kinda knew some stuff but couldn’t talk about it. I mean, I hadn’t even seen Team America nothing. But after following a boy I thought I like to the first meeting of new school club my first year of college, my life forever changed. One random weeknight, I avoided a paper (I’m sure) and headed to a film screening. I was introduced to Liberty in North Korea but I didn’t know what that meant. A few more screenings and a realization that I had nothing to do that summer, I found myself on a flight to California (first time to the state and first time flying alone) to spend my summer interning.
The summer of 2010 I was a Southeast nomad, traveling in a van for 7 weeks with three other people, sharing the stories of the NK people and raising funds for our programs. Looking back I realize I decided to work for LiNK because I saw them as the organization where I could make more impact. I’d looked into some other programs, but to go from knowing nothing about NK to understanding the truth of what is going on there makes it hard to say no to working with LiNK.
One day though, everything came together and I realized there was no way I could ever let go of this issue. I watched the video of one refugee reuiniting with his mom after something like 4 years. They embraced each other, crying, flowers in hand, seeing each other for the first time ever in freedom and safety.
I don’t know if many of you reading know… if anyone’s reading … But my mom passed away just before I turned 16. She was diagnosed with cancer when I was 12 and fought it actively until just about a month before she passed.
This is when I realized I needed to work for this cause. I miss my mom every single day, but I have the peace of knowing she is gone and having had the chance to say proper goodbyes. But to imagine living in this world, knowing she was out there somewhere, just not able to talk to me, constantly wondering if she was safe and what she was up to, would break my heart in a way I don’t think I can ever understand. Daughters aren’t meant to say goodbye to mothers before even their first kiss. No boy should graduate high school and not have his father there to say congratulations.
So after my summer program, I flew home, knowing I would be back with LiNK no matter what. I signed up for 20+ credit hours that fall and spring. Worked 20 hours a week. And applied for a job with no shame. Now, here I am, over two years later, running LiNK’s national tours program.
I’m not someone who believes in fate but I do know that I happened to be at the right place at the right time to get me to where I am right now. I can’t imagine doing anything else and appreciate my job more than most.
And to think it all started with a crush on a dumb boy!