When students first enter college, they check out the Greek systems and different organizations to explore what college has to offer. But behind that curiosity, there is a sense of wanting to belong somewhere. Students want to identify themselves as something or feel wanted. University of California, San Diego (UCSD) has many Korean organizations, but many Korean Americans who want to be involved have a hard time identifying themselves into those groups because they do not feel that sense of belonging. Our club welcomes everyone− fluent and non-fluent Korean speakers, non- Koreans wanting to learn Korean, or those who simply like the food and the entertainment aspect of Korea. What makes Korean American Student Association (KASA) so special is that we eliminate the language barrier to give a sense of that identity and acceptance to those who feel that do and do not feel that connection with any of those groups. We not only welcome second generation Korean students, but we also welcome the first and 1.5 generation students.
The purpose KASA is to promote the expansion of cultural knowledge, political awareness, and social interactions. One of the biggest events we hosted in the past is Korean Culture Night (KCN). With the growing popularity of South Korean entertainment and culture, KCN is the perfect opportunity for cultural awareness and gathering of native Korean students and Korean American students, as well as anyone who is interested in the Korean culture. Also, our other events include community services, social gatherings, mentorship opportunities, Korean politics, and career building opportunities. UCSD KASA is also part of Southern California Korean College Student Association (SCKCSA), which is the oldest and largest non-partisan, non-profit organization Korean American Student organization in the United States. SCKCSA, which consists of 13 different campuses, serves as a bridge between the Korean community and student body. Annually, SCKCSA volunteers at one of the largest Korean Festival in the nation, Freshmen Dance-off competition and more.
Initially, I joined KASA with a different motive. But over the past four years, I realized that KASA has shown me that it is more than a resume point. It is a place of friendship and family. All the staff can say they chose to be staff for the friendship and genuine love for KASA. We all give to KASA expecting nothing in return, all we want to do is to share the same incredible experiences of making everlasting friendship and various opportunities members and non-members.
AUTHOR BIO: Darae Jun is a 4th year studying Environmental Systems in UCSD. She does research in biofuel production and is pursuing a Ph.D.