Summer 2016

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Northwestern is the quarterly alumni magazine for Northwestern University.
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Stacy Kim in Florianópolis, Brazil.

Stacy Kim: Finding Her Voice

Stacy Kim was volunteering at an educational nonprofit in Salvador, Brazil, in summer 2014 when she discovered Vale do Capão during a getaway to Chapada Diamantina National Park. She was captivated by the denizens of this “alternative community,” which is home to people from Brazil and beyond who have rejected society and unplugged from the wider world to focus on personal development, spirituality and wellness. 

She and a few friends decided to focus on the residents of the village for a documentary project. With support from the School of Education and Social Policy, the Buffett Institute and the Office of Undergraduate Research, she returned to Vale do Capão twice and quickly fell in love with the art of documentary filmmaking.

“It is one of the most amazing learning experiences,” she says. “It pushes you far outside of your comfort zone.”

Kim, the daughter of South Korean immigrants, knows something about pushing beyond boundaries. The salutatorian of her Torrance High School class lived with friends and relatives after her family lost their home in the suburbs of Los Angeles. Most of her friends, she says, were children of immigrants or refugees. “Struggle is the norm in my hometown. To come to a school like Northwestern, where that’s definitely not the dominant narrative, was pretty shocking,” says Kim, a Quest Scholar. “It was hard to get classmates and professors to understand where I was coming from.”

Kim eventually found her fit with the Northwestern chapter of AIESEC, a student-run international leadership organization. She organized the chapter’s Global Village, Northwestern’s largest multicultural event, and later became president. Kim traveled across the United States and visited India and Mexico for AIESEC conferences.

“Intercultural interactions make people more open-minded and self-aware,” she says. “They’re life changing.”