Jul 282015

Fun in BostonJD is now about 4 weeks into his program at Boston University, and things still seem to be going pretty well in the classroom. This past Saturday, JD had the opportunity to meet up with KKOOM supporters, Tina and Mike Mohr from Hampton, Connecticut, who drove in to Boston for the day. Here’s a narrative from Tina:

We really enjoyed meeting JD this weekend. We met at the Barnes and Noble near BU and then walked up the commonwealth avenue mall, through the Boston Public Garden to Faneuil Hall for lunch. JD remarked that it was extremely crowded and busy, which it was! We talked about how there are similar markets in every city in South Korea but how enormous they are. He was happy to find some Udon noodle soup which was more familiar to him than some of the other foods available. I got Greek food and that was the first time he had heard of a Gyro and some of the other types of Greek food on display. I also tried to explain what “Chowda” was and why it spelled differently than it is actually spelt. We talked about a lot of things including our careers as well as JD’s career aspirations; safe places to walk around the city and many of the differences between Boston and South Korea.  After lunch we walked back on Boylston street and took a Duck Tour through the city. The tour was a lot of fun and were very surprised to sit next to another student from South Korea! The tour was fun and we didn’t get wet. After that we had dinner at a traditional Boston pub and watched the end of the Red Sox game. My husband Mike and I had a wonderful time. JD is a very responsible, polite, hardworking young man. He had very practical and realistic goals for the future and I was extremely impressed with his fluency in English. I am glad that we were able to meet with him and spend the day showing him around the city.  We actually had tickets to a Red Sox game for the next day that we were unable to use, so we gave them to JD. He did go with a few friends and had a nice night to see the game. Thank you for the opportunity to meet JD !

This week, we also caught up with JD for a couple more questions and answers.

Q:  Do you miss anything from home? 

A: I often miss Korean food such as 부대찌개, 된장찌개, 짬뽕 and others. So I sometimes go to Korean restaurant, but not often. Unfortunately, the foods in Korean restaurants are too expensive to me. But I go there when I can’t bear my appetite for Korean food anymore.

Q: What surprises you most about American culture or American people?

One of what I was surprised is, many people run without wearing any top. And there are many beggars than Korea. I can see them everyday. In Korea, I can’t see those kinds of scene.

 Posted by at 9:52 pm
Jul 222015

By William Downey – KKOOM Board Member

The KKOOM Board of Directors convened July 17-19 for its annual retreat in Chicago, and it was the first opportunity for some of us to meet in person.  It was nice to meet the folks I have been meeting with virtually, and it was great to be back in Chicago for the first time since 2007! IMG_3080

I grew up in Michigan so the hot, humid summer days accompanied by the obligatory afternoon thunderstorm is a familiar weather pattern.  Chicago did not disappoint as the temperatures Friday went into the 90s and a dramatic thunderstorm Saturday afternoon more than fulfilled my need to walk down memory lane! KKOOM Chicago 2015 kicked-off on Saturday with a full day of topics to cover.  Emphasis was placed on a thorough review of our past projects and where our focus should be placed going forward.

A major highlight of the weekend was a Skype session with JD, a student studying at Boston University this summer, Ms. Soonok Park, house mother/social welfare worker and Jaeho Lee, formerly a resident of the Samsungwon orphanage who recently completed his Master’s of Divinity.  It was great to get their input on KKOOM programs and insightful suggestions as to what things they think KKOOM can do to help. Their feedback on KKOOM was encouraging and a validation that our projects and the organization is an important part of the lives of the children and young adults we seek to serve.

JD’s U.S. visit is nearing its midpoint with the Boston University program as he enters his third week of the six-week English program.  Jindong did well on his placement test when he arrived and is finding the class level he has been assigned to in the program a challenge and very helpful in building his listening and speaking skills.  As a business major, good language skills will give him the confidence he needs to succeed in a very competitive, international business environment.  My impression has been he is studying hard and getting the most out of his time in the United States.

I had a chance this past weekend to get directly involved in supporting him in one of those activities.   As with any academic program, there is always work to be done outside of the classroom and JD’s program is no exception.  He had to prepare a meal with a focus on using relevant vocabulary and had to capture his instructions for preparing the meal to video.  Of course, he has to speak in English!  I would say that the video was a success but as for the meal…well, it is good he is a business major!IMG_3081

I have noticed a dramatic improvement in his ability to speak and listen to English and know it will continue to improve as his visit in the United States continues.  The ability to improve language skills requires this type of immersion in a culture of the target language.  You really need this kind of exposure to master not only the practical aspects of daily language usage but also the nuance of vocabulary and regional differences.

This is the first time KKOOM has sponsored a study abroad program and Jindong has proved to be a good choice for our first candidate!

Stay tuned for more reports!

 Posted by at 5:54 pm

JD’s Summer in Boston: Week 2

 Blog  Comments Off on JD’s Summer in Boston: Week 2
Jul 132015

JD at the statute of John Harvard.

JD’s first week of classes at Boston University got off to a good start last Monday, and later in the week, he caught up with some KKOOM friends. On Thursday, he toured Harvard’s campus with KKOOM Board Member, Bill Downey, and former KKOOM volunteer, Ashlee Anton, and on Friday, JD met up with another past KKOOM, Tami Bolk, for Thai food.

We asked JD a few more questions about his experience so far, and here’s what he said.

1. Describe your typical day.

I usually wake up at 6:30 am. And I take a shower, have breakfast. After that, I have a class at 9 am. my class consists of speaking, writing, reading and listening (teacher’s speaking). the class ends at 12:50 pm. And I have lunch, take a break, and go to fitness center, (it’s very nice), and take a shower again, have dinner. in the evening, I always do my homework. (cause I get assignment everyday). I don’t go outside in the evening, cause I’ve heard that it’s more dangerous than Korea at night.

2. How does BU’s campus compare to your campus at home (Pusan National Univ.)?

It’s great. I can take subway in the campus. And I can use all facilities of the campus. and I’m also so happy that it is flatland. (the university where I study in Korea is very sloping) And I can see so many foreign students from all over the world. Also, there’s a great river named Charles River behind the campus (I always watch the river in my room, it’s very close)

3. What is one new thing you’ve learned in past week?

The one new thing I’ve learned is the attitude I should have in class. That is, when the teacher describe or tell something, other students usually cut in on what the teacher says. I was so suprised at it. In Korea, when a professor say something, students don’t speak anything. through that, I experienced cultural difference. and I thought that I should try to do it. But it’s still not easy.

Tami and JD enjoy Thai food.

Tami and JD enjoy Thai food.


Ashlee, JD and Bill check out Harvard’s campus

 Posted by at 8:00 am

JD in the USA

 Blog  Comments Off on JD in the USA
Jul 062015

JD in SW Michigan at a raspberry farm

JinDong (“JD”) arrived in Chicago from Korea on Friday, June 29. (see previous post) He spent the weekend in SW Michigan hanging out with KKOOM President, Aimee Jachym, and flew to Boston the following Monday. KKOOM board member Bill Downey greeted JD at the airport in Boston and helped him get checked in to the dormitory at Boston University.

JD had an orientation session and English level test last week, and his intensive English classes at Boston University start today.

We had a short Q&A session with JD, and we hope you find his responses interesting.

Q) Besides improving your English, what are you hoping to learn or experience during your time in America?

A) I wanna meet lots of friends from around the world as well as studying English, there are many foreign students here in Boston. In [my English program], I think I can meet lots of people and know about many countries

JD and Bill on the Fourth of July

JD and Bill on the Fourth of July

Q) What was your first impression of America?

A) I felt American people have good manners and act kindly to other people. They always say ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘Excuse me’ even in very small situations. And whenever I ask someone about what I wanna know, They explain very kindly.

Q) When you were younger, did you ever dream about visiting America? Now that you are here, how does the reality compare to your dream?

A) When I was younger, I sometimes dreamed to visit America. It was one of my wishlist. And now It became reality. I have thought that America is amazing country and has lots of things to do. And I still have same thinking. America is beautiful and interesting. I always appreciate to KKOOM’s donors. Thank you.

We’ll continue to check in on JD throughout the summer, so we hope you’ll stay tuned.

 Posted by at 9:00 am

Summer in Boston!

 Blog  Comments Off on Summer in Boston!
Jun 162015
Jindong "JD" Kim  will be in Boston this summer

Jindong “JD” Kim will be in Boston this summer

We’re excited to announce that JinDong (“JD”) will be coming to the US at the end of the month. JD has been a KKOOM scholarship recipient since he started college at Pusan National University in 2012. JD is now a junior majoring in business management, and thanks to your help, he will be coming to Boston to study intensive English at Boston University for six weeks.

Most Korean males have to serve in the military for two years, but JD, like others who grew up in orphanages, is exempt from this requirement. This has given JD some extra time for his studies in comparison to most of his male friends who are currently on university leave in order school to serve in the military.

Thanks to financial support from KKOOM, JD was able to use this extra time by taking a leave of absence from school this year (beginning in March) in order to focus on improving his English skills. The job market will be extremely competitive for JD when he graduates from college (expected Feb. 2017), so this year off will give him an opportunity to build his resume by acquiring skills and experiences that will set him apart from his peers.

Coming to America will give JD the chance to use and improve his English skils in an immersion setting, which he is both excited and nervous about. During his time here, he will also get to visit a few American companies and see what the business world is really like. We’re still lining up his schedule for mid-to-late August, but if you happen to be in the Boston area and would be interested in hosting JD at work for a day – or know someone who might – please send me an email.

When asked what he’s most looking forward to, JD said “getting to travel and going to New York!” We believe it will be an unforgettable summer for JD, and it wouldn’t have been possible without your support! We plan that our next update in a few months will be written by JD himself, so stay tuned!

 Posted by at 4:58 pm

Jinyoung Starts Preschool at 19 Months Old!

 Blog  Comments Off on Jinyoung Starts Preschool at 19 Months Old!
May 072015

Jinyoung and his house mom

Our newest toddler started preschool this March, and he is doing very well! Jinyoung is just 19 months old, but he is a quick walker (runner) and has a huge appetite. We were worried that the preschool would ask us for additional money to support his lunch expenses — but so far, they’ve just laughed it off. 😀

At first, the staff members at both the orphanage and the preschool were a little worried about his adjustment because of his young age. They decided to start him off on half days for the first month to let him get used to preschool. After the first week, everyone — including Jinyoung himself — had determined that he was well adjusted, playing with the older kids and following along to the teacher’s instruction.

Jinyoung’s house mom (pictured with Jinyoung on his first day of preschool) says, “I am so thankful to KKOOM for their support and for sending Jinyoung to preschool. He is a very curious and smart little guy, and I have huge hopes for him to do well. He’ll get to experience so many new things in preschool that he wouldn’t be able to do at (the orphanage) home.” When asked about his strengths, Jinyoung’s house mom says that he has good motor skills. He likes to stack blocks and play (or pound on, as the case may be) the piano; he also seems to have an interest in soccer, kicking and chasing after the ball with great enthusiasm.

If KKOOM did not send Jinyoung to preschool, Jinyoung would probably be bored at the orphanage home without proper education or stimulation. Volunteers might come in to play with him one-on-one or teach him at the home, but he would not be surrounded by other children his age. This is because all of the 4 year olds and up go to preschool and regular schools, so he would be left, essentially, home alone with his house mom. Houses parents at orphanages are not generally trained in early childhood education, rather having degrees in children’s social welfare, so it is especially important that toddlers like Jinyoung get to go to preschool like the rest of Korean children their age.

Hence, we’re glad to be able to give Jinyoung and his energy a new outlet by being able to send him to preschool with your support. We are sure that he is building a solid foundation for his future educational success.


Jinyoung enjoys dinner


 Posted by at 7:31 pm

Happy New Year!

 Blog  Comments Off on Happy New Year!
Jan 012015

Watch one of the kids you’ve helped support wish you a Happy New Year! Thanks for all you’ve done to support the kids in Korea through KKOOM in 2014. We look forward to a wonderful 2015.

 Posted by at 11:20 am

12 Days of KKOOM. #12 Merry Christmas!

 12Days, Blog  Comments Off on 12 Days of KKOOM. #12 Merry Christmas!
Dec 252014

12. December, 25, 2014. Merry Christmas!

2014 KKOOM Samsungwon Christmas Highlights
From our hearts to yours, we wish you a warm and merry Christmas. Please enjoy the video above, which highlights our KKOOM Christmas party.

Whether you’re a regular KKOOM supporter or you’ve stumbled upon this blog for the first time, thank you for joining us here. Every dollar donated, every Facebook “like,” and every “share” is a new opportunity for us to spread the word about the good work being done in orphanages and children’s homes in South Korea. And in a way, that’s the meaning of this holiday season — spreading love, sharing the good things in life with others, and helping to make the world a little better than it was yesterday. To the hundreds of you who have helped us do that, in ways big and small this year, thank you so much!

Merry Christmas from KKOOM!

Highlights from our 12 Days of KKOOM series

We hope you’ve enjoyed our 2014 12 Days of KKOOM blog series. Here’s a recap in case you missed any.

1. First Impressions, part 1
2. First Impressions, part 2
3. Joy for Kids
4. Commitment: A Volunteer’s Perspective
5. Jerusalem Ministry’s Camps
6. A Korean adoptee visits with KKOOM
7. Growing Up in a Korean Orphanage
8. English Teacher Meets Her Students at Samsungwon
9. Annual KKOOM Christmas Party
10. A House Mom’s Note of Thanks
11. Access to Preschool
12. Merry Christmas!

If you’ve liked this, please use the “share” links below to let your family and friends know. As always, feel free to connect with me at ajachym[at]kkoom[dot]org. I’d love to hear from you! ~ Aimee, KKOOM Co-founder and President

 Posted by at 10:52 am
Dec 242014
NJS (3 years old) has been in preschool for 2 years thanks to KKOOM's support

Jisu (3 years old) has been in preschool for 2 years thanks to KKOOM’s support.

11. Wednesday, December 24, 2014 – Access to Preschool

Those of you with little ones in your lives know how much joy they bring, especially this holiday season. KKOOM’s tiniest angels are no exception, so we wanted to give you an update of how they’re doing in preschool.

Many of you know that we’ve been able to send Korean orphan toddlers to preschool starting in the year they turn 24 months old, which is when most Korean children begin. The Korean government, however, only pays for toddlers living in orphanage homes to go when they turn 4, which is 2 years later than all of the other kids. Common sense tells us (and our intuition has been verified by our child development expert friends and volumes of unrelated studies) that the earlier children get access to education, the better off they are in the future.

Suzy (age 2) has been in preschool this year and will receive another year of KKOOM support to go next year. The government will pay for her preschool the following year.

Suzy (age 2) has been in preschool this year and will receive another year of KKOOM support to go next year. The government will pay for her preschool the following year.

We started this program about 3 years ago, and so far, we’ve been able to send 6 (18-month-old to 3-year-old) toddlers to preschool. Through a partnership with a local Gumi preschool, we’re able to get a 50% discounted tuition rate, and it costs us about $200 per month per child for all-day preschool (8:30 am – 3:30 pm). The children attend year-round.

One of first 6 children is starting 1st grade next year in March, when the Korean school year begins. He’s already shown early signs of learning disabilities, so he’s also been able to receive extra help learning to read and write his alphabet. We’d like to think that, by helping go to preschool earlier than he would’ve otherwise been able to, some of his learning challenges may have been detected early as well.

KKOOM has helped Minho (3 years old)  attend preschool and receive extra therapy.

KKOOM has helped Minho (3 years old) attend preschool and receive extra therapy.

Right now, there are two children in Gumi, South Korea attending preschool with KKOOM’s support. Jisu and Suzy are both doing very well in their respective classes. Jisu, however, doesn’t really like strangers. Recently, he asked his house mom to call the preschool and ask Santa not to come the next day! Santa was due to make an appearance to pass out presents. When asked if he didn’t want to receive a present then, he said, “Yes, I don’t want a present. Just don’t let Santa come!” Suzy, on the other hand, is outgoing and likes interacting with others. She even let an international volunteer paint her face at the Christmas party last Saturday!

KKOOM also supports one toddler living in a special needs orphanage home in Daegu, South Korea and helps him receive special therapy. Minho was born with renal dysplasia (small kidneys) and has experienced stunted development. For 2.5 years, Minho lived at Samsungwon in Gumi and then was transferred to the home in Daegu earlier this year, because the Daegu facility is better equipped to support his special needs. KKOOM’s financial aid helps Minho receive one-on-one sessions with occupational and educational therapists to help him on his way.

Next year, Jinyoung, now 16 months old, will start preschool in Gumi in March. He’s an active little guy, and when the preschool van comes to pick up his older brothers and sisters every day, he goes out to watch. Sometimes he tries to climb in with everyone else. Soon it will be his turn too.

JY (16 months old) will go to preschool in March

JY (16 months old) will go to preschool in March

 Posted by at 12:15 pm

12 Days of KKOOM – 10. A House Mom’s Note of Thanks

 12Days, Blog  Comments Off on 12 Days of KKOOM – 10. A House Mom’s Note of Thanks
Dec 232014
Ms. Noh at Samsungwon

Ms. Noh (right) with one of the Samsungwon children. Ms. Noh has lived and worked at Samsungwon for more than 30 years.

10. Tuesday, December 23, 2014 – A House Mom’s Note of Thanks

This August, the children at Samsungwon had the opportunity to visit California Beach, a large water park in South Korea with KKOOM’s support, which covered admission, transportation, and food for 77 children, staff, and 5 ex-Samsungwon young adults who served as chaperones. On this first full day of winter, it’s fitting to reflect on all of the fun we had as we look forward to another trip in 2015.

This reflection was written by Ms. Noh, one of the house mothers who has worked and lived at Samsungwon for over 30 years. We have translated and edited it to improve readability, but the original Korean text follows at the end.

KKOOM took the Samsungwon family to California Beach in August 2014

KKOOM took the Samsungwon family to California Beach in August 2014

Dear KKOOM Supporters!

First of all, thank you for sharing with our Samsungwon children dreams and love through your efforts.

The financial support you’ve given our colleges students has been a huge help, and we’re enjoying the furniture you’ve provided us as well.

One of the Samsungwon children relaxes at California Beach

One of the Samsungwon children relaxes at California Beach

Additionally, we are thankful for your sending us to California Beach in Gyeongju, South Korea on August 11, 2014. Last year was our first time going, and we had a hard time even finding the cafeteria then. This year, however, we all knew where we were going, and the kids had a good time going where they wanted and playing happily.

The preschool and elementary school children played in the shallow wave pool and rode the slides. The older kids had fun on the really high slides, river boat roller coaster, and ocean wave tube ride.

Through this experience, I observed how our children could learn how to react in new situations. This whole day was an experience that we would have never been able to give the kids without KKOOM’s support. So I want to express my gratitude one more time. Because of KKOOM, our children have been richly blessed.

I hope that you would also be blessed. Thank you.

Samsungwon kids at California Beach

Samsungwon kids at California Beach

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 10:45 am