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Improving the Lives of Korean Youth Through Outreach and Education

[Day #7] Unforgettable Memories in America

The Liu and Park family enjoying a day at the lake during the KKOOM Minnesota Stay Program

This summer, KKOOM was able to revitalize a long-lasting program that has not been implemented in ten years – the KKOOM Stay Program. It is an opportunity for KKOOM to fund a homestay program to visit the United States for the youth we serve at KKOOM-supported children’s homes. The last time we did the program was in Chicago in February-March 2023. 

Thanks to the commitment from KKOOM Board Member Patty who was determined to host this experience again, she was the Program Coordinator (volunteer) and one of the homestay families for the 2023 KKOOM Minnesota Stay Program. We asked her to share her “why” of wanting to host this program for two elementary school children. 

The two boys got signed jerseys from Minnesota United soccer player Jeong Sang-bin

Why did you want to host the Minnesota Stay Program?I was inspired to do this by the KKOOM sponsored Chicago stay program that took place 10 years ago. It seemed like such a no brainer! Our kids are all grown up and we had an extra bedroom. Our main goal was to show the children the wider world and plant seeds in them to dream big for their futures. It’s monumentally difficult to make it on your own once you get out of the social welfare system and these kids need to work incredibly hard to support themselves on their own. We wanted to motivate the kids to start working hard at a young age to achieve their dreams.”

What was one of your favorite experiences with the boys during the two-week experience?My favorite experience was giving the boys an opportunity to learn how to swim. They were so afraid of the water and confided in me later that they were convinced they wouldn’t be able to do it. But having raised two boys I knew that swimming was one of those things that anyone could learn and enjoy for the rest of their lives, so we didn’t really give the boys a choice. We said it’s on the schedule and you’re gonna learn how to swim. It was a resounding success. During the 2 weeks they learned 3 strokes and even learned how to dive!”

Why is it important to you to provide life skills to the young boys you hosted? What do you hope they gain from this experience? “I saw how much confidence it gave the boys to be able to do something they thought was impossible. Swimming was a great life lesson but it was also great to see the boys discover that they could thrive when thrown in camps with American boys and girls. Smiles and laughter are a universal language and they learned that people are kind all over the world.”

What was one of the biggest things you learned about the boys while hosting them? “I think our American kids sometimes forget what a blessing it is to have parents that force them to do things.. Our young visitors were used to giving up and often got angry when asked to do hard things, like stand for a long time in the hot sun during soccer camp or finish their daily English lesson before going to the water park. At the end of our 2 weeks, we told the boys to remember only one lesson: “Doing hard things is the only way to succeed in life.”


We know this was a life-changing experience for the two elementary school boys, from taking swimming lessons for the first time, getting to meet Minnesota United Korean soccer player Jeong Sang-bin, learning how to do daily household chores, and giving back to the community through volunteering. Thank you to the Liu and Park family for being amazing hosts and helping KKOOM bring back this life-changing experience. Moving forward, we hope to make this a regular part of our programming to give more children in South Korea the opportunity to continue dreaming big through a cultural immersion trip to the United States.


Patty joined KKOOM’s Board of Directors in 2022. She is the founder/CEO of BestofKorea.com, a media platform that features the best of Korean culture, entertainment, lifestyle, and achievement. She graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with a degree in Painting. You can read more about Patty here.

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