This month’s 4th Friday Alumni post is from Danny Kim, from the class of 2018. Take it away, Danny:
Since I graduated from MFAEDA program in 2018 a lot of changes happened in my life. From Durham to California I took a 15-day road trip to cross off my bucket list. In that long journey, I deliberately took the Southern route to experience the American South. As a Korean individual driving into the “Deep South,” my initial fear was greeted by Southern charm and warm hospitality.
Sweet Home Alabama indeed. My first stop was in Montgomery, AL, and had to stop by the newly opened National Memorial for the Peace and Justice. Under the hot Summer Sun, I managed to spend some time at the museum walking around its landscapes and learning more about lynching history.
Even though I grew up in the US and thought I was comfortable with the lifestyle in the US, traveling thru the South opened my perspective in terms of a new culture and a deeper appreciation for the vast size of the country and the rich history as well.
After moving myself to California without any prospects lined up, I was pretty much on my own to start anew and build my connections from scratch. I was fortunate to have someone I knew 10 years ago who took me in and helped me navigate my journey as I get re-acquainted with the City of Stars. I guess I was pretty ‘determined’ to make it out in the Wild Wide West.
I have to say, it wasn’t an easy start and I like to ask myself, “Would you ever do it again?” My answer today would be “50:50” But my experience in LA shaped me as a person who I am today.
In LA, I kept myself busy trying to work on multiple projects over for 1 year I was there. One of the most rewarding experiences out of them all was teaching. After getting my MFA degree, I knew I wanted to go into teaching and my wishes came true when USC School of Communication and Journalism hired me as a part-time Adjunct to teach a graduate-level capstone class. The weekly class cumulated with students producing a diverse range of stories in multimedia context and I got to get to know some of the students and faculty there really well.
However, my time in LA came to an end with my struggle with visa issues and accepted my faith to return to my home country.
Shortly After I moved back to Korea, I was able to work on a new project for a feature film that took place in Bogota, Colombia. Thanks to that experience, I was able to live and work in Bogota for 3 months. There I discovered myself in a new situation where no longer I was the mainstream but a true “foreigner” as I did not speak or understand the Latin American language and culture. But fortunately, the local crew I worked with were extremely hospitable and I was able to pick up some conversational Spanish and appreciate Colombian culture.
December of 2019, my journey in Bogota ended abruptly and I found myself back in South Korea. It was there I landed in my 2nd teaching job at the University of Utah Asia Campus.
As the department was rapidly growing, they needed one more instructor to teach a variety of courses and I was assigned to teach Experimental film history and Advanced Documentary filmmaking course.
Spring 2020 semester was very interesting and challenging at the same time as Covid-19 rapidly spread across South Korea we were forced to go into an online mode with the exception of my courses where it was practical studio class that was impossible to teach online. Fortunately, the size was a small group of 4 students so we were able to meet weekly without much difficulty.
As we are learning how to live with the Covid-19 virus, I am not certain that life before Covid-19 as we remember it will ever be possible? South Korea is just having its 2nd wave of Covid-19 and the daily count is now on avg 200-300. I know this is still significantly lower than the US or other parts of the world, but it still is alarming news and especially anxious times when you are looking for new work.
What has taught me over the months of this global pandemic is that don’t take anything for granted. As much as I’m anxious to find out what’s awaits me next, I just gotta believe in myself and “our lives should continue on”
See you all next month.