Max Kim

Korean American

When you came to Georgetown with your Korean-American identity, do you feel like it helped you or hindered you in some way?

One thing that is a minor gripe is that it kind of sucks being Asian-American when it comes to applying to colleges and scholarships, especially considering that I originally applied to a lot of schools as “Asian male engineer,” which is, as some of you may know, not an underrepresented minority and is in fact an overrepresented minority, so I never really qualified for any scholarships or anything like that. It was like ‘We’re looking for underrepresented minorities in this field,’ like ‘minority,’ but I don’t really count, I guess. I’m not saying that I would trade away being Asian American but it was just something that was like, “Ah, racism still at work here,” but in a very weird way in that it’s only because a lot of Asians are succeeding that this racism is occurring. It’s a double-edged sword, I guess. It hurts. It hurts a lot. That was a big thing for me.
It was just very frustrating, especially because — I mean, you know that statistic where Asians have to get a certain number of points higher on the SAT to be considered over non-Asian counterparts. That one kind of bites a little bit on my SATs but still the idea that I did well enough to the point where if I added a hundred points — that’s not even possible. That’s not even a score on the SAT. There’s a hard cap — how do you expect me to get more than that? It was like, ah, *wagging my fist at the College Board* but you know, that’s the system we live in.
But coming to Georgetown, my Korean American identity hasn’t really had a major impact on me. If anything, I didn’t really identified with my Korean-American, I guess, Korean side of things. It’s definitely not something that I felt too close with, especially growing up in a town that was majority non-Asian. In fact, there were like five Asians in my year in my high school. Asians actually have the highest dropout rate in my high school because one kid dropped out and they fucked up the statistic. One guy drops out and suddenly you have a 20% dropout rate, so context is very important. Anyway, I’ve definitely grown up with a very non-Asian community.
I feel that I’ve always been assimilated; I’ve never really felt the need to hang out exclusively with Asian people, Korean people, or Korean-Americans. Although I did go to a Korean church, so I had that kind of group of friends as well, primarily because you typically don’t see non-Koreans at a Korean church. When I came to Georgetown, I didn’t join a Korean or Korean-American student group immediately. Oddly enough, that turned me towards pretty much any other Asian-American group on campus. I was actually the Taiwanese American Student Association freshman rep last year so that was something that’s like, “Hey, you’re the TASA rep. So what part of Taiwan is your family from?” “I’m actually Korean.” “Kim — that doesn’t sound like a Taiwanese last name,” and you’d be right about that because it’s most certainly not a Taiwanese last name. I joined TASA, CSA, AASA, and VSA. I can’t say I was very active in any of the clubs that were not TASA and that’s mainly because I was a general body member and not a board member. With the other Asian associations, it was more like I sometimes went to their events. I was auctioned off on both the AASA fall ball and CSA whatever their equivalent is — I forget, I apologize to the CSA. It’s some zodiac thing, but a dating show. I made AASA quite a bit of money. I made them, I think it was $300. I broke the record for the going price of a human being if that’s kind of a comfortable thought, you know, selling someone for a date, but anyway, I digress. But yeah, if anything, at Georgetown, I’ve more gone toward other Asian-American cultures rather than Korean-American culture, which is not to say that I dislike Korean-American culture. Maybe I just like experiencing new cultures. But I still love Korean barbecue. I still go out with Break Squad sometimes and I have cousins who live in Virginia, not too far from Annandale, so sometimes they’ll take me out. That’s fun to get food that I can’t get at Georgetown… and to see family, obviously, first and foremost.

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