America, public servant, politics, community service, and working for the disadvantaged. When I lived in Korea, I never imagined that these words would somehow become meaningful to me. Having been born and lived in Korea for thirty years, I had absolutely no idea that I would live as a public servant in the United States, a foreign country in which I didn’t have even a single distant relative. Nor had I dreamt of such a career path. More than anything else, working as a public servant looked, in my youthful mind, somewhat conformist and not so creative, and I had publicly sworn that public servant was definitely off the table of my career options. Additionally, in my eyes, politics was merely a world that existed only in television and had nothing to do with my life. Since I was so preoccupied with taking care of my own business, I had absolutely no interest in community service, not even the concept of it, even though I felt some sympathy towards disadvantaged people. However, I am ashamed to confess that I didn’t even intend to take the responsibility of helping the underprivileged until I turned thirty. If someone had told me that I would become a public servant in the United States who was active in politics, specifically to serve the disadvantaged, I would have scoffed at it as pure nonsense.
*This essay was originally written in Korean by Soohyun Koo. It was translated from Korean to English by Dongho Cho, a Professor of Sociology at Queens College.*