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Meet Benjamin Oser, Youth Program Coordinator

Name and Pronouns: 

Benjamin Kim Oser (He/Him/His)

Where do you call home? 

I now call home Fort Lee, NJ, but I have had homes in Central NJ, CT, NY, Korea, and Philadelphia. 

Tell us a little about yourself. How do you spend your time outside of KAAN? 

When I am not working on Camp Naru to support Korean American youth in identity development, I enjoy the parks and history of North Jersey, exercising, listening to music, and reading - would highly recommend Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong, and Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (a great fiction of Korea through the 1930s-1980s. 

How did you hear about KAAN? Why did you decide to get involved as a volunteer? 

I heard about KAAN through a similar Korean culture camp, Sejong Camp, and had the chance to attend my first conference as an attendee, which then turned into an opportunity to support their youth programming. Since then, I have volunteered to continue to create spaces for the youth to connect with one another, learn about Korean culture, and obviously the pool party with so many yummy snacks.

Do you have a favorite KAAN-related memory?

There are so many great KAAN moments, but before my time working closely with the youth program, I had an opportunity to present about culture camps along with two individuals I have come to greatly respect and seek guidance from - Joy Lieberthal-Rho and Martha Crawford. They truly sparked a new direction in the work we were doing through camp and its value to identity development. I often reflect on that moment as something truly special for my first time at KAAN. The relationships that you build through KAAN are incredible and have a lasting impact.

What do you love most about the KAAN community?

I love the openness and community. Perhaps a cop-out answer, but the community is everything that helps to ignite an understanding of oneself, along with many others on the same continuum but at different points. I think finding other adults - and youth - seeking to engage with their culture, history of adoption, and connection to one another is an absolutely beautiful thing.

What is a fun or random fact people might not know about you?

Like many adoptees, I had a desire to do things that aligned with my parental identity. The big thing for me was ice hockey - I picked up the sport starting at eight and have continued to play ever since. I played in graduate school and still play in a men's league now - wild to think that I have played for 32 years and I am still learning the game. But often one of few people of color - so I feel pride sharing the ice as a Korean American hockey player.

Anything else you'd like to share with the KAAN community?

It's always scary finding new communities, but spaces like KAAN help to build bridges and connections for you to safely explore. Whether you attend every session, or volunteer, your presence and impact are invaluable for self-discovery and sharing in this lived experience with so many others. 

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