- a raw diamond
by Markus Franke, editor
Mix a banana with a raw diamond, and Aaron Kim is what you
get, or so he says. The 27-year-old undergraduate Robert E.
Black award winner, whom some people describe as the Korean
guy who speaks English with a German accent, has a heart
of gold and a will to move mountains, according to those who
All his life, hes been on the move. He was born near
Stuttgart, Germany, of Korean parents. When he was two years
old, they sent him to his grandmother in Korea for four years,
so he could grow up the Korean way. He then returned to Germany,
where he had to learn German again in order to live a normal
life. When he finally felt comfortable speaking German, his
family decided to move back to Korea, and he was forced to move
again. Four years later, they returned to Germany.
Ive lived a nomadic life, Kim said. Hes
moved all over the world, and has gained cultural experience
from many different countries. Thats why he compares himself
to a banana and a raw diamond.
(A banana) has white flesh in a yellow skin; that best
describes my multicultural unity, Kim said. Im
a raw diamond being shaped by my surroundings. The surroundings
that he speaks of have been many, as Kim is eager to learn.
Kim started studying at the Yonsei University one of
the top universities in Korea where he learned Korean
business language for a summer. He then moved to Salzburg, Austria,
to study Hospitality Management at one of the best hospitality
schools, a partner school of HPU. After two years in school,
he felt the need to move and try new things. He moved to Montreal,
Canada, where he spent two years learning French. He later returned
to Salzburg and graduated in 1998.
Upon graduation, Kim was one of four students selected for Disneys
International Hospitality Program. He spent a year in the program,
and then moved to New York City to work for the Regent Wall
Street Hotel as an assistant guest service manager. Kim says
a family friend in the city, and now mentor, taught him many
new and important things.
I think everyone should have a mentor, Kim said.
My mentor keeps me on track, he keeps me focused.
His mentor made him aware of the importance of finance, and
Kim decided to give up the job and move, again.
Through the partnership between HPU and the school in Austria,
Kim saw his chance of surfing and studying at the same time,
and so he started his finance studies at HPU.
Once here, Kim started looking for an intriguing project. In
summer 2001, Kim and his friend, Christian Roppelt, founded
Aikane, meaning friend.
Aikane is a service-learning/community service program
by HPU, Kim explained. Through tutoring, the program helps
unprivileged youngsters of Hawaii to get a better chance
in life. The program has done well so far, according to Kim,
and they are now looking for more people to help out.
We need people who are dedicated and interested in helping,
Kim said. We need people to make it happen. Aikane
is an HPU liaison with Junior Achievement Hawaii, which
was founded by Robert E. Black.
All I remember was the pulse on my throat, Kim
said about his feelings before the announcement at HPUs
Honors Banquet. He said he felt honored receiving the
award, the biggest award of his life.
When asked what he was thinking, walking up to the podium to
accept the award, Kim sat quiet for a while, as if he was shy
of showing what he felt. With a contented smile, he finally
replied: For the first time in my life, I felt I was actually
giving something back to my parents,
Kim recently landed an internship with Merrill Lynch, and he
hopes to graduate in December. He has no idea where hell
go after graduation, but hes not worried.
If youre scared of the future, take a step forward
and go for it; attack the problem, Kim said about life
- telemark skier
by Jenny Lundahl, associate editor
In its last issue, Kalamalama summarized the graduate student
who won the Robert E. Black Award at HPUs annual Honors
Banquet on April 7. But that description didnt tell us
who Elin Thormodsen is. An international student from Bergen,
Norway, she is according to her friends both humorous and disciplined.
My social life is an important contributor to my academic
achievements, said Thormodsen, an organizational change
major. My friends are very important to me, and I would
never have come this far without them.
Thormodsen, 25, already has a degree in political science with
a concentration in administration and organizational theory
from the University of Bergen, in The rainy city of Norway.
One dark, rainy day in Bergen at the end of her senior year,
Thormodsen found out about HPUs student exchange program
and decided to come to Hawaii. It was not a difficult
decision to make, said Thormodsen with a smile on her
face. What made her decide to stay was HPUs organizational
change program, which was not available at the University of
Bergen. A couple classmates and I got together and we
all joined the program and left Norway for the little Island
in the middle of the Pacific.
Now, two years later, she is graduating with her masters
degree but she is not finished with Hawaii, yet. Id
really like to stay here and get a job if possible, said
Thormodsen. But since the job market is so tough now,
I might go for another masters degree in information systems,
something she had always had an interest in.
The reason Thormodsen likes Hawaii, and why she would
recommend HPU to anyone, is because of the diverse cultures
that Hawaii offers and the extremely laid back style that
people have here, she said. Whenever I get stressed
out, I just go to the beach and enjoy the beautiful weather,
and it is just impossible to not be positive. Thormodsen
also thinks that HPU offers the ideal environment for anyone
interested in different cultures and a global attitude.
Back in Norway, Thormodsen used to devote her spare time to
Telemark, a combination between downhill and cross-country skiing.
Since, theres not too much snow here in Hawaii,
she likes to go surfing and sailing every now and then. Being
a student, its important to exercise on a regular basis
in order to stay healthy and to be able to deal with stress,
Next fall, Thormodsen will be in her second year as the president
for the Graduate Student Organization, and she has big plans
for the RIO. I want the graduate students to be more involved
with the club, she said. I want the connection between
the local students and the international students to become
stronger. Thormodsen has been a member of several RIOs
at HPU but has decided to be less active in those to be able
to devote more of her time to the GSO.
Asked if there was anything that she didnt like about
Hawaii, she said: Hawaii should be closer
[geographically] to Norway, so it would be easier to travel
back and forth.