Vulnerable people are everywhere


August 14, 2019

Editor’s note: Rebekah Kim Jong is wrapping up her summer internship with the Coalition on Human Needs. Rebekah, a rising senior at Liberty University studying International Relations, Chinese, and Business, shares with us her thoughts and experiences as a CHN intern.

People often ask me, “Where are you from?” While this is simply a polite question, I laugh, because the answer is more complicated than you might think. I try to figure out how to answer without telling a stranger my life story. I was born in Korea as a citizen there, raised in the Philippines, flew to the U.S. three years ago, and now reside in Virginia for college – simple, right? It’s true that my background often places me in rather confusing situations, but I am immensely thankful to have had the opportunity to grow in a multicultural environment.

My upbringing has taught me to see the bigger picture, and to acknowledge that issues are seldom contained within a country’s border: poverty, hunger, and social and economic injustice are prevalent everywhere in the world.

During my internship at the Coalition on Human Needs (CHN), I had the privilege to learn in depth how these problems are affecting communities within the United States, and what policies are being advocated to address these issues. For a change, I was able to deeply scrutinize and learn about domestic relations, rather than international ones.

CHN deals with various issues, but one that stood out for me was immigration, a topic that always has intrigued me. Learning about the complexity of the issue and how different policies can affect hundreds of thousands of lives was fascinating. Webinars by CHN member organizations such as the National Immigration Law Center were very informative, and greatly helped me accomplish my tasks, which included writing blog posts, social media posts, and designing graphics based on the research and articles published by these organizations as well as news outlets.

I currently attend a conservative private Christian school where I am surrounded by one dimension of political beliefs. However, this internship educated me on different political beliefs and ideas, which enabled me to challenge and newly recognize certain aspects of politics. As a matter of fact, seeing people of different beliefs, religion, race, age, etc., come together to aid vulnerable communities was an encouraging and remarkable experience. Now I feel like I am equipped with adequate knowledge of both ends of the political spectrum, which enables me to communicate with different individuals, whatever their political beliefs may be.

The greatest lesson I have learned, and advice I would give future CHN interns, is that just because you feel like you don’t belong, it doesn’t mean you can’t help or contribute to bringing change for the better. I used to think U.S. policies and politics had nothing to do with me because I wasn’t American. As silly as it sounds, I once disassociated myself from domestic affairs and only focused on issues 8,000 miles away (that’s roughly the distance between the U.S. and the Philippines!)

Vulnerable people are everywhere. If you can’t reach people 8,000 miles away, why not start with those a mile away?