Eric is a third-year student at CalPoly Pomona, studying biotechnology. He has been a longtime KYCC volunteer, in our free tax prep program, high school leadership group and our Environmental Services Summer Youth Program.
Where is your hometown?
I was born in Korea but raised in Koreatown. I moved here when I was three years old. I went to Wilton Place Elementary School.
Do you live or work in Koreatown?
The summer before college, I worked as a Youth Supervisor in KYCC’s Environmental Services Summer Youth Program. The best part was getting to meet people in the community. As a supervisor, I had to deal with workplace issues such as subordinates not listening or not being on the same page because everyone had different ideas. I had to learn to get along with people who weren’t compatible with me.
When I worked with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, we helped people who needed our services to do their taxes. It’s cool that VITA is a free program. I was also a BRIDGE volunteer at Wilton—a lot of the kids you work with look up to you and you are able to set a precedent for their generation. I noticed that there was mutual learning between kids and volunteers. The kids would learn how to be more like the teens who were their role models and the volunteers would become better people in order to set a good example. In the end, it was a good experience for everyone.
What are your thoughts on Koreatown today?
Koreatown has changed so much. In terms of population, there are so many more people now compared to 10 or 15 years ago. Ten years ago, it wasn’t as diverse. The neighborhood used to be predominantly Korean and now, I wouldn’t even call it Koreatown anymore. The increasing diversity is a very good thing. In general, it’s better for kids to grow up around different people, rather than all their neighbors and friends being Korean. Just since I’ve been in college, Koreatown has changed a lot. When I came back, K-Town had changed so much it felt weird.
Where is your favorite place in Koreatown?
My home. As a college student, I love coming home. Now that I’ve live away from Los Angeles, I am nostalgic for Koreatown.