Tag Archives: inspiration

How JEP Created A Home Away From Home

By Sam Newman

Growing up in a small suburb in the middle of Long Island, New York, I was a kid that loved to get involved in the community. Whether it was through a program at the local library, helping the elderly learn how to send an email, or volunteer work at my elementary school, helping the kindergartners do a science experiment with marshmallows and toothpicks, I loved the inspiration I received when helping others.  Therefore, upon arriving at the University of Southern California, I found it imperative to discover a service niche in which I could participate.  Luckily, the opportunities for volunteer work at USC are limitless.

One day after class (it was a Monday I believe),  I walked up the steps of the awkwardly placed house at the end of Trousdale and gingerly watched my head as I stepped under the “JEP Sign-Up Now!” banner.  Earlier that week, I had learned about the Joint Educational Project, and their mission to have USC students assist and tutor in the classrooms of local schools around the USC area, schools that are typically made up of kids from low income and struggling families.  A few weeks later, I was kneeling down at the world’s tiniest table in Mrs. Oldaker’s kindergarten class at the 32nd Street School, trying to sound out the word “dog” to a cute little girl with pigtails. “D-aw D-aw D-aw,” I said trying to make a “D” sound.  The young girl understood and scribbled the letter “D” onto her paper.  The next two letters provided more of a challenge.  “Aw-G Aw-G Aw-G,” I said, recognizing that the letter “O” did not sound like itself in this scenario and that the odds of her figuring that out were slim to none.  Mrs. Oldaker approached and reassured me that the young students did not need to get it right every time, just as long as they were practicing the letters of alphabet and getting used to the sounds.  To be honest, I don’t know how Mrs. Oldaker has been teaching kindergarten for 24 years (25 next September she consistently reminded me). It is hard work!

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Los Angeles is… Roy Choi

By Maggie Deagon

To call one person the face of Los Angeles would be reductive. With its diverse cultural representations and geographic vastness, it seems disingenuous, if not impossible, to represent this city with a single face. But perhaps, I could suggest a single thing—specifically, a food truck. More specifically, the Kogi truck.

You may not have heard of Roy Choi, but certainly you’ve heard of his food. With vehicles catering the entire city, the Kogi truck is perhaps Choi’s most famous creation. Check the Kogi Twitter account (@kogibbq) for live updates on where they’ll be for the day; sometimes they stop at USC for a brief late-night dinner!  With all the other food truck options around USC (and in LA for that matter), you may wonder what makes Kogi so special. Well, for starters, the Kogi truck essentially launched the food truck revolution in Los Angeles, so you have them to thank for the gourmet offerings on Jefferson and McClintock. If that’s not enough to impress you, consider this: Roy Choi’s Kogi truck exemplifies the fusion that IS Los Angeles.

Photo by Vincent Diamante on Flickr

Spanish-speaking and Korean-speaking communities make up a significant portion of Los Angeles, particularly in the areas adjacent to USC. Bustling Koreatown is just a few miles away, and authentic tamales and pupusas are available for sale pretty much everywhere—even on our campus each Wednesday at the McCarthy Quad farmers’ market. Roy Choi was born in South Korea but grew up in Los Angeles, specifically South Central. The food he concocts for his Kogi trucks reflects the city in a bite, a effortless combination of two vastly different cultures. Thanks to Roy Choi, kimchi tacos are as popular as french fries. Well, maybe not quite, but more and more people becoming familiar with the combo and favor it as a go-to treat.

Fusion is a sticky subject among food lovers; it tends to stir up issues of authenticity. Roy Choi did grow up in a community where both authentic Korean and Latin flavors ruled, but does he have the right to repurpose the burrito—a staple of a culture not his own—to highlight Korean ingredients? The thing is, Roy Choi has always credited his creations to his community, emphasizing the role the city’s people have played in his flavor combinations. Though the burrito is not his own to repurpose, he sees his fusion as an expression of gratitude.

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