If you read last month’s issue of the Honors Pulse, you probably already know a little bit about Reg Kim. For those of you who did not, Reg is a Visiting Instructor of Theology and Religious Studies here at SNC. He is currently teaching an Honors Theology course, and taught the Honors section of The Christian Tradition last spring. This month, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Reg in Luna Cafe to pick his brain about his experience at SNC. His interview did not disappoint, and was full of just as much wit, bluntness, and deep insights as I expected. Enjoy!
What’s your favorite part about SNC?
My favorite part is definitely the relationships that you can build with students…which is very different from any other institution I’ve been at. One, because size. Here, we’re sitting in a café on a Saturday morning, right, and it’s not weird…how awesome is that? The college does a really good job of recognizing that when we teach, we don’t just teach the person in the classroom, but we teach the person outside the classroom just as much. I’m not excellent in the classroom; I think I do well in the classroom because of the relationships that I build with people outside of the classroom.
What has being at SNC taught you?
I’ve never been in an environment where my difference was so pronounced. You know, I’ve been in communities where there were a lot of people of diversity, and here there aren’t. It’s taught me: one, the world doesn’t look a lot like me. Two, that in these environments, I should be more vocal about how my diversity operates here because people don’t have the opportunity to engage with that difference as much as they do in other places. So, it’s given me a confidence in that position. Whereas, I didn’t speak from that position very often, I didn’t need to, in my previous institutions. So it’s given me that confidence and it’s given me a way to talk about the whole person for myself and bring that into the classroom.
Another way I put it is, this college has helped me find my teaching voice. Because this is a teaching position that I feel very comfortable in, and part of that is also making students do uncomfortable things too. I learned that here; I didn’t learn that in New York, I didn’t learn that in LA.
Some people never get the chance to meet someone who was raised like me. So if this might be the only time that happens, (I hope it’s not, because I hope we do have people that seek out diversity) but if it’s the only time that it happens, then I’m like, count me in; I’ll talk a lot about it!
What advice do you have for students?
I’m a big fan of, well, two things. First one: take risks. This generation I feel like, talks a lot about making mistakes and learning from their failures, but they don’t ever do it. Everyone’s like, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve learned from all my failures’ but nobody’s ever done anything. These are failures because people force you to do something, not because you took the risk to do it, you know? If you can’t f*ck up your life now, when are you gonna have the chance to do it? Do it now, I mean, this is America, you get second chances all the time!
The second thing is, I think, particularly in the Midwest, I’m finding that students are afraid to state their opinions. I want to teach people not to shy away from having opinions, but to have good opinions. I think, just culturally in the Midwest, people don’t like to speak up and say anything because they’re afraid it might be taken the wrong way. I think the job of college is to teach young people how to have an opinion and to speak well about it and to speak compassionately about it. I feel like it’s better to love somebody because you know their opinion than to pretend to love them because you know that they have a bad opinion but they won’t say it.
What do you remember most about your time in college?
I did college in three years. So the thing that I always come back to is I kinda regret having done it in three years. I wish I had stayed another year, because I graduated college before I was 21 so I graduated like right when I turned 20; I was pretty young, like barely 19. I never got to experience college from that position and it didn’t feel like I was an adult when I left. I don’t feel like an adult now, but I felt less adult then. I guess what I remember most is the regret, the regret about not staying that extra year, the full four. My goal was to go right to grad school and try to get my Ph.D. by 25, and all of that, like I had a timeline and then I got derailed. I think having that extra year would’ve, one, prevented me from burning out because I burned out real hard; two, kind of just set me up to really evaluate what was important to me.
The other stuff, I just remember us doing crazy things. You know, doing stupid things. Going to concerts in San Francisco at 2 a.m. in the morning when I had Latin class at 8. Going to the NCAA tournament and doing a road trip, just to go see the basketball team play up in Seattle. That was cool.
Getting the opportunity to speak with our professors is a great experience, and one that makes my position in the Honors Pulse so rewarding. To paraphrase Reg, St. Norbert does a great job of bringing people together and forging relationships between instructors and students. We are so privileged to live in an environment where these connections not only exist, but are encouraged. Thanks again to Reg for sharing his wisdom with me and for being a great addition to our Honors Faculty.