Volunteer Spotlight: Ryan Kim

This week, our Volunteer Spotlight is on Ryan Kim!

Why do you volunteer with ASTEP?
At first going to Africa to work with a unique community sounded very exciting, which it certainly was, but as I got deeper into the experience of ASTEP/artsINSIDEOUT in my four years with the program, the impact on me grew. This work truly gives me life—creatively and spiritually. The relationships I have formed at Nkosi’s Haven with the students, mothers, teachers and staff have truly changed me. Creation is on the agenda every minute of every day.


What is your favorite memory from an ASTEP program?

It happens every year. Putting together a devised piece of theatre in a few weeks is no easy task. There is always the question of how/will it get done? It always does somehow, which is truly a miracle to behold. But it’s the little, fleeting moments that affect me the deepest. To observe a young person see their best friend, their younger sibling, their mom in a new light is inspiring. Watching Wesley (a magical kid) watching his grandmother proudly telling her story on stage in front of an audience is a moment I’ll never forget. And to see students begin to see themselves with fresh eyes, more loving and compassionate, moving from “can’t” to “can” is like watching hope and love in action.

Why is arts education important?
Without arts education, a powerful tool for growth and creativity would be missing and a vital outlet for positive self expression wouldn’t exist. When survival is the daily focus, the arts can easily be brushed aside. When we thoughtfully shine a spotlight on the creative side, survival suddenly has a new ally, friend and advisor and a new world of possibility is discovered or created.

What do you hope your students gain from your time with them?
I hope that students will leave thinking more strategically, focusing on their abilities more than their obstacles. I hope they care for themselves and their community more compassionately and with great love.

What have you learned from your students?
So much more than I could ever hope to teach them.

Any advice to share for new ASTEP volunteers?
Go in with an open mind and open heart. Inspiration just needs a little coaxing to ignite, then all things are all possible. Enjoy every moment!

Thank you, Ryan, for all that you do! This work is possible because of people like you!