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Community News: Mid-City

KOREATOWN : Workers Wrap Up 'Summer of Service'

August 29, 1993|JAKE DOHERTY

Summer is nearly over, but for participants in the National Service Initiative's "Summer of Service," the memories and benefits of their eight weeks of work in Los Angeles and other cities will endure.

The summer program, part of President Clinton's national service plan, paid 1,500 workers $4.25 an hour to provide communities with a range of services, including tutoring and mentoring, refurbishing playgrounds, planting gardens and offering AIDS education.

Those who completed the summer service will receive $1,000 credit toward college or vocational training.

"When you're young it's a chance to be idealistic," said Kris Choi, 21, a UCLA senior who developed gardening and environmental awareness projects for students at two Koreatown elementary schools.

The experience helped the kids "feel proud of themselves" and "showed me where I should be going with my life" in terms of community service, Choi said.

California received 450 of the jobs, including 150 positions for Los Angeles. Building Up, a loosely affiliated partnership of 29 community organizations and schools, supervised the Los Angeles program, which was targeted at people 17 to 23 years old.

The Korean Youth and Community Center supervised 10 people through its Youth Leadership Development project.

Sang Je, a 17-year-old high school student who tutored 35 students at Los Angeles Elementary School No. 3, said his charges came to see him as someone they could trust. "For 1 1/2 hours (after school), they knew they didn't have to deal with all the problems they face outside," Je said. "Working with the kids helped me to see that nothing big can be created unless the tiny parts work."

Koreatown resident Sangjoon Park, 23, said he learned another lesson by working with students at Berendo Junior High School: "Kids see things clearly and simply. The older generation brings out (issues of race and ethnicity), but the kids don't really see it. If they have a conflict it's not because of color."

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