The Where Are They Now blog series looks at the lives of Beijing International School alumni after the last school bell has tolled. 24 year old Harrison Kim is a WAB alumnus from South Korea. While at WAB he founded WAB Idol and Friday Night Lights.
Timeline since High School
What have you done since leaving high school?
I earned an Honors Bachelor of Arts, a double major, degree in Architecture and Economics at the University of Toronto, and served the Korean Navy for 2 years in between my first year and second year university. During my final exams this April, I received an offer from the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education teacher’s program that would eventually lead me to an international school teacher career path. After a long debate, I decided to move to Shanghai and look for architectural design jobs in Shanghai. During the years after WAB, the two years in the military and, especially, the Cheon-An catastrophe taught me to truly listen to myself and play my game and not others.
What do you miss most about high school?
I miss WAB socially, environmentally, and architecturally. WAB has a very encouraging environment so I wish I took more risks, escaped my expat bubble, make lots of local connections, and started my own business in high school. Also, during high school, I did not plan as much as I should have for my university and career life. I thought the University of Toronto degree was the best recognized degree in China so employment would be fast and easy. Now I realize that I really should have spent more time exploring what I wanted to do with my life and take actions accordingly.
Advice for High School Students
What insight would you give to students and parents who are researching career paths and university choices?
When you have no idea what you want to do for university or for your career, you could try deducing your careers of interests backwards. Look at the job description of a career choice you are interested in. Are you passionate or at least happy about the job description and the requirements? If you are, then which schools are the best for you to meet and exceed those requirements? What can you do now to better fulfill those requirements? If you have no idea, dive into different opportunities, join student organizations, or learn something new so that you discover yourself.
Memory of Beijing
What do you miss most about your time in Beijing?
I miss the old Beijing. I miss those days when I could go onto any street at night and order yang rou chuan (lamb kebabs) or jian bing (Chinese pancake) on the streets. The street food in Beijing trained my immune system so that I didn’t have to suffer from traveler’s diarrhea in Peru, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama. So, for those who haven’t tried street food, you might consider getting it over with and start eating street food in Beijing! (Don’t quote me to your parents.)
What is your dream?
When I read that private home nurses is an expanding industry and expected to be one of the most employed professions in the future, I feel there is something inherently wrong with this trend. Yes, the aging population would require the services of private home nurses at this rate, but the root cause of this trend, I believe, is that the masses have not adopted healthy lifestyles and diets. My dream is to provide products or services that target this problem at the intersection of the arts, technology, and sustainability – environmentally sustainable solutions that motivate the majority to adopt healthier daily habits.
Photos courtesy of Harrison Kim