In this interview, Soyoon Kim, Brown University class of 2019, describes her experience serving as a Program Coordinator at the Global Brown Center for International Students during the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Kim begins by explaining that she first heard about COVID-19 from her family in Korea but was not immediately concerned about the virus spreading to the United States. She recalls organizing a panel of health experts at the beginning of March to give students, staff, and faculty from Mainland China information on the virus. She notes that, at the time, the panelists felt confident that COVID-19 was similar to the flu and that they assuaged the attendants’ fears.
Unfortunately, as the seriousness of the pandemic became a reality and Brown initiated the transition to online learning, Kim remembers canceling events and trying to assist students with their transitions to off campus housing or back home to different countries. She talks about the emotional challenges of making these decisions as well as the complications of immigration statuses and paperwork. Kim also notes the digital yearbook she created with and for international students who could not enjoy the traditional graduation and end-of-year celebrations.
Kim closes her interview by explaining that her term as Program Coordinator was not renewed due to the pandemic and that she planned to return to Korea while she applied to graduate schools. She adds that she feels lucky and privileged to have the network and support of the Brown community during the pandemic. Kim concludes by imploring people to remember the “moments of resilience and care that went into making it through this kind of crisis.”