When KYCC first opened its doors in 1975, our mission was to serve at-risk youth. As we grew, we realized that to maximize our impact we had to serve youth and their parents, and we adopted a family-centered framework for services. Today, our goal is to not only serve youth and their parents but the older adults of our community as well.
In 2017, KYCC launched our GenByGen Initiative to grow intergenerational programs that intentionally brought together different generations in mutually beneficial ways and to foster understanding. It started with pilot programs such as the partnership between the Korean American Women’s Association (KAWA) and KYCC’s elementary programs, and this year we launched three more intergenerational programs across three units.
K-Town is Your Town is a KYCC intergenerational program that stemmed from a community photo project that interviewed people who live and work in Los Angeles’s Koreatown. Our storytelling program was to bring together seven young Koreatown journalists with a group of community elders for a series of in-depth, in-person interviews.
However, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and face-to-face interactions between youth and elders became nonviable, the program pivoted to combine with KYCC’s emergency food delivery initiative to reach elders in isolation. Beginning in April 2020, our youth journalists called their elder contacts for weekly check-ins, developed personal relationships with them, and began to document their own quarantine experiences via writing, interviews, photos, audio recordings and video.
In addition to the interviews, the program meets weekly via Zoom workshops, where a guest journalist joins in to discuss details about their career and provide journalistic tips and insights. Speakers have included reporters, editors and photojournalists from the Associated Press, CNN and The Korea Times.
K-Town is Your Town is also partnering with StoryCorps Connect, which was developed as an online platform in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students recorded each other and their interviews are archived at The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
This program was made possible by several generous grants from The Eisner Foundation, including the Rapid Response Fund.