Editor's note: The World Vision family is comprised of thousands of staff members from various personal, professional, and spiritual backgrounds -- each of whom has a unique story of being led to our ministry. To highlight this diversity, we're starting a monthly series in which a different World Vision staff person will share "what working at World Vision means to me."
Growing up as one of the only Asian Americans in my predominately white neighborhood, I was often on the receiving end of racial slurs.
This left me angry and confused. I often felt misplaced.
In college, I began to ask questions about my family’s past. I hoped to find something that would explain all the childhood teasing and bullying.
In this search I discovered Malcolm X, a civil rights activist who found himself in being a voice for the voiceless. I believed that I, too, could express my family’s American experience and be heard.
Representing the marginalized and the oppressed became my call; writing and photography became my tools.
Over the past 10 years, I’ve had a wide variety of seemingly random editorial jobs. I always wondered how it would come together in a focused way.
When my wife and I decided to move to Seattle to be closer to family, I applied to work at World Vision on a whim earlier this year, as other options were not working out.
The same week I joined World Vision's Publications and Information Resources team, I was laid off from my previous job. In my new position, I could see how my past work experiences built upon each other.
And now, I realize this timing is much more than one door closing and another opening. While doing some research to write this essay, I made a remarkable discovery.
In a small auditorium in Eugene, Oregon, in 1954, World Vision founder Dr. Bob Pierce presented a movie showing the dire need of orphans in war-torn Korea. Sitting in the audience was Harry Holt. That night, he and his wife sponsored six children after watching Pierce’s film.
But that was not enough for him.
The images of the unwanted children in Pierce’s film haunted him. Holt had no peace until he went to Korea to adopt some of them.
Holt made his first trip to Korea on May 30, 1955. This led to the birth of the Holt International adoption agency.
Earlier that same year, in February, my mother was born in Southern Korea.
Eight years after Holt first flew to Korea, she was left at an orphanage. Holt International then placed her with a family in Eugene, Oregon, in 1963.
Twenty-four years after Holt first flew to Korea -- on the very same day -- I was born.
Fifty-seven years after Pierce showed his film to Holt, I started my first day at World Vision.
Now, the work begins.
Eugene (back, right) with his family in Sacramento, California, on May 27, 2011. (Clockwise, starting left: Eugene's dad, younger sister, wife, youngest son, mom, oldest son, and grandmother.)
A photo from Eugene's first field assignment with World Vision: Students in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, answer questions from potential World Vision donors. Their school receives microloans to stay open through World Vision's local lending institution. ©2011 Eugene Lee/World Vision
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