"I am grateful for the opportunity to support the Summer Youth Program, which serves to improve the quality of education for future generations." Daniel Choi
Daniel Choi is an administrative analyst in the UCI Writing Project. Below, he shares his thoughts about his educational journey and his work at UCI.
I still remember the look of confusion on her face which must have matched mine. I was in 10th grade and had been pulled out of class to meet with the school counselor. She had just gone through a list of rudimentary questions, making sure to annunciate each word clearly and slowly as if I had a hard time understanding – to which I responded in plain, born-and-raised-in-America English. We both knew I wasn’t supposed to be there in that ESL assessment meeting, but my mom must have not understood all of the questions correctly on the registration form for my transfer into high school.
I was born in Long Beach, California to two 1.5 generation Korean-American parents. My first experience with the English language was on the first day of Kindergarten in a predominantly Caucasian school, and leading up to that day, I had only learned to speak in broken Korean with family and friends. However, the language barrier wasn’t too difficult to overcome as English-as-a-First-Language students are generally not that great at English by Kindergarten either. Fast-forward a few months, and I was singing along to the school songs, word for word, in the back seat of my parents’ cars while they continued to smile and nod in encouragement.
These memories of being part of the intermediary generation of children with non-English speaking immigrant parents have resonated with me much more since I’ve begun working with the UCI Writing Project. After graduating from UCLA with a Bachelor’s degree in International Development, with two parents who, after more than 20 years, still hadn’t fully grasped a command of the English language, I decided that I wanted to give back to the communities that fostered stories like mine.
This will be my fourth year facilitating for the UCI Summer Youth Program, which boasts a great network of dedicated teachers from all throughout Orange County and an even greater network of students from all around the world. I am grateful for the opportunity to support a program under the UCI Writing Project which serves to improve the quality of education for future generations, and I am encouraged by the diverse communities that our program brings together.
While education may be the most important tool we can wield to change the world, it is our ability to share through our stories that we can use to shape our humanity and understanding. The hope that we may impact students in their academic journey in the English language and one day inspire them to share their stories is what drives me to work passionately each day.