Grad Standout: Story of personal growth tutoring refugees during semester abroad in South Korea

Empowering growth in future generations: It’s not a catchphrase or a bumper sticker for Calabasas resident Brandon Yoon. He’s thrilled to be graduating from UC Santa Barbara after a personal growth journey that took him abroad for a semester in South Korea where he tutored young North Korean refugees. Yoon describes it as a defining moment of his college career.

“One of my students was incredibly ambitious and a driven person but she was also a little bit shy in the beginning so we couldn’t get a conversation going,” Yoon said.

So he decided to use children’s books he read growing up in Calabasas to bridge the divide… books like “Daddy and Me” and another one featuring Mickey Mouse.

“She told me this was the first time seeing anything like this. And she was incredibly excited!”  

Yoon said that’s when he knew they’d be able to work together to achieve great things.  

He admitted he wished he could’ve spent more quality time before leaving UCSB being around surfer friends at the beach. But Yoon also said he’s not letting the pandemic steal his joy.  

His message to fellow 2020 grads: “I know things are difficult. But I really encourage you to take time out of your day and think about all those who have helped you come this far. The ending to our college story may not have been perfect, but think about all the incredible things you’ve accomplished, all the milestones you’ve overcome, and how far you’ve grown as a person. In time your efforts will be rewarded!”

If you’d like to nominate someone to be featured go to @dancohenfox11 on Twitter or Facebook and click on the link pinned to Dan’s page.