Lived Experience: Bringing Me to Where Am and Where I’m Going

June 19, 2019

Sam Kim is interning for the Alliance to End Hunger through the Congressional Hunger Center’s Zero Hunger Internship Program 

The concept and benefits of ending hunger in one’s own life and beyond seem relatively basic. In order to have a functioning society with all individuals integrated into the fabric of democracy, they must first be adequately fed and nourished.

However, most know that this isn’t as easy as it should be. My own family illustrates this, and we struggled with food insecurity and hardship for the majority of my life. Homelessness and poverty has unfortunately been an integral aspect of my identity as an immigrant, first-generation college student in the United States. Though my residence here was completely legal, it was difficult for my family to find economic stability for a very long time. My father was pursuing a Master’s in Divinity through a local seminary, and as some may know, working within the church as a full-time minister often does not provide adequate income necessary for a family to survive, especially in an area with a high cost of living like Buena Park, California. Therefore, my mother also had to work several jobs in order to keep the family afloat, and I spent the majority of my time growing up taking care of my brother and making sure he stayed on track with his education and his lifestyle.

While there are times it got better, there were definitely more times that our situation was exacerbated through unforeseen circumstances. During my sophomore year of high school, the church that my father worked at started construction of a new building, which was an ambitious idea considering our finances. However, they progressed through this course of action to ultimately realize that their budgeting was flawed. Consequently, they decided to stop paying the pastors for a very long time, which meant that our major source of income was cut off. This caused us to have to leave the house that we were living in at the time, and we found ourselves homeless for several months.

However, despite these financial difficulties, my parents still managed to send me on mission trips all across the world. I have been to Turkey, La Paz, Mexico, India, and several other places. From these experiences, I realized that the level of poverty in many places around the globe was pervasive to an extent that I didn’t recognize in the States. My passion to help solve international hunger grew – just as I did – while traveling and participating in humanitarian work, and I am still learning how to utilize my knowledge and translating it towards advocacy and policy change.

These experiences are what make me who I am. I have seen both the bare edges of the predicaments of homelessness and the inner cyclic mechanisms behind it. I have also directly experienced what it means to struggle, but also learn and prosper, through poverty and trying times.

Now, I am currently an intern with the Alliance to End Hunger through their partnership with the Congressional Hunger Center as a part of the Zero Hunger Initiative. I was connected to this opportunity through CHC’s recruiting process that involved the Bonner Foundation, which is an organization that funds highly motivated and underprivileged college students that engage in any kind of service activity around the community and for many different causes. Throughout my time at Davidson College, I have immersed myself with the homeless population in different ways; whether through leading a nonprofit organization called Ending Poverty in Charlotte or coordinating the Room in the Inn Program every week, I have tried to contribute as much as I can in whatever position that I was find myself.

From this point onward, I am going to continue embracing the push towards zero hunger, and the opportunity given to me through this position will assist me in contributing towards that goal.