Surfing the world, one country at a time: FDU-Vancouver student visits six countries in 50 days

Ajung “Ribbon” Kim and Camila Castro, both juniors at FDU-Vancouver, post-surfing adventure this summer in El Salvador. (Photo courtesy of Camila Castro)

By Kenna Caprio

She traveled to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and then stateside to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Portland and Seattle before heading back to FDU-Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada.

“I’ve met so many people from all around the world, seen new parts of it and had experiences that broadened my perspectives and philosophy,” says junior Ajung “Ribbon” Kim, 24, originally of Ulsan, South Korea. “I learned Western ideas, lifestyle and culture.”

Kim’s summer jaunt through Central America and the West Coast of the United States lasted about 50 days.

“I prefer to visit hidden corners of cities and to meet real locals. So, I’ve never booked hotels or organized a schedule. When I truly mingle with locals, I can accept differences, find similarities, learn new things and open my eyes and mind,” says Kim. “That engages me to grow up and extend my knowledge, ideas and mind as a global citizen.”

Kim’s quest for global citizenship started even before she enrolled at FDU-Vancouver to pursue her Bachelor of Arts in individualized studies, with a concentration in business and communications. Prior to starting college, Kim worked for various nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) from 2008-2010 in India, China and the Philippines. “I’m pretty adventurous and independent,” she says.

At FDU-Vancouver, that adventurous spirit, plus an affinity for discussing deep, philosophical questions, cemented her friendships with classmates Camila Castro, 20, and Sherry Henriquez, 21, both originally of El Salvador.

While staying with Castro — and then Henriquez — in El Salvador over the summer, Kim immersed herself in the country’s culture, sights and language.

“I don’t even know Spanish, but I could communicate by body language and with others’ help,” says Kim. For fun, Castro taught her a few Spanish words and she returned the favor by sharing some Korean words with Castro.

Mostly, Kim spent her time in El Salvador soaking up local color and meeting her friends’ family and friends, but Castro and Henriquez made sure to plan specific day trips and excursions, too.

“In El Salvador, we have really good beaches and waves to surf,” says Castro, a junior studying business administration. “It was Ribbon’s first time (surfing) and she was very brave. She managed to get one of the waves.”

With Henriquez, Kim played laser tag, jumped on a trampoline, sang karaoke and toured the capital city of San Salvador.

“I am very inspired by her, she is an artist and has a great heart,” says Henriquez, a junior majoring in business administration. “Ribbon loved El Salvador, she liked the people and the food, and she loved the language. Friendship becomes stronger once someone comes to visit your home.”

Left, Kim and Castro (right) pose at a restaurant near El Tunco, El Salvador. Right, Kim savors a cup of coffee in Guatemala. (Photos courtesy of Kim)

Kim also visited FDU-Vancouver friends Luis Cerón in El Salvador and Rodrigo Molina in Guatemala. Classmate Daniel Alvarez’s parents and grandparents hosted her in Guatemala, too.

“My friends were always trying to show me real, local cultures and great places to visit. They introduced me to all their close family, friends and neighbors,” says Kim. “My trip wouldn’t have been that amazing without my lovely friends and their families.”

And pretty soon, she might be showing friends around South Korea. “Ribbon extended an invitation to me to go with her to Korea,” says Castro.

Kim has plans to travel again next summer, likely starting with a return trip to Nicaragua.

Feature Story from the FDU Newsroom

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