State High senior breaks language barriers through volunteer work

State High senior Dina Kim was given the President’s Volunteer Service Award.
State High senior Dina Kim was given the President’s Volunteer Service Award. Photo provided

A State College Area High School senior is breaking barriers by participating in a nongovernmental organization.

Language barriers, that is.

Dina Kim works as a translator for Compassion Korea and was a former volunteer in Malaysia helping teach English to refugee students.

For her volunteer work, she also received the national President’s Volunteer Service Award last month.

To date, she’s clocked about 600 community service hours.

“It’s hard to explain, but I just like to help people,” Kim said. “I see myself doing a lot of this this in my future.”

Kim started working with Compassion Korea, a branch of the larger Compassion International global organization, when she was in fifth grade.

“I heard about it from a friend and wanted to help,” she said.

The group is a sponsorship ministry, which allows people from around the world to sponsor a child in need from another country.

Kim’s responsibility is to translate letters to Korean. The letters are written by the child and sent to their sponsor family.

She translates three to five times per week, working electronically, and has to finish the translations within a week, she said.

Letters are first translated to English and come from children in numerous counties including Ghana and Spain, Kim said.

“The kids are in poverty so it makes me thankful for all I have and the education I’ve been given,” she said.

Kim was born with the name Do Hee in Daegu, South Korea, and moved to Texas at age 7. She then moved back to Korea during fifth through eighth grade, and then briefly lived in Malaysia before moving to the State College area in October 2014.

She said she is fluent in English and Korean and can speak conversational Spanish.

“I’ve always been interested in linguistics and education, and think there is a need for people with those skills,” she said.

Kim said she hopes to major in linguistics and minor in education in college. She’s not sure yet where she will attend college.

“I think I can bring what I do here to things I want to do in my future,” Kim said. “It’s rewarding to give back to the less fortunate. I like helping people and really love doing what I do.”

Britney Milazzo: 814-231-4648, @M11azzo