From Seoul to Portland: a RBC Intern's Experience Abroad

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By Jieun Lim

It was the first day of the year and my first day in Portland. Even with snow on the ground, my first impression of chilly Portland was more than I had expected. I would like to tell you about my experience in this fantastic city in Oregon that has turned out to be more than I could have ever dreamed of!

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On that first day, I said to myself, "I've started my new life on the first day of 2017 in Portland!"

I wanted to travel to Portland from my home in Seoul, South Korea to study English and I also really wanted to know more about the awesome, eccentric Portlanders that I had heard of. "What's cool in Portland?" "How different is Portland from South Korea?"

The more I learned about Portland, the more I became fascinated with the city. From trying all the amazing food and coffee; to just wandering in the cool rain; to getting a beer at sunset; all these things were so pleasant to me! I'm also inspired by the unrestrained talents of local artists who provide valuable motivation for me as I pursue my dream to become an accomplished art educator. 

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My work at the ReBuilding Center in North Portland has been one of my favorite experiences!

My work at the ReBuilding Center in North Portland has been one of my favorite experiences! I've been volunteering at the ReBuilding Center since October. I've been helping Ashley, a wonderful manager in marketing department, help publish several newsletters for the organization. In addition, I've been working in the ReFind Education Shop, building with salvaged lumber. My experience volunteering here has inspired me to explore more interesting and creative ways to educate children on art and how to make the world better place at the same time!

Recently, the ReBuilding Center received their copy of a Korean magazine, OH BOY!, a publication that focuses on a range of different topics, such as environmentalism, animal rights, fashion, and culture. In a special once-a-year issue, the Korean magazine focuses on one international city and this year their focus happened to be on Portland! From Seoul to Mississippi Avenue, the crew came and interviewed Ashley Howe, the Marketing & Communications Manager, about the ReBuilding Center. I've been asked to translate the article and I'm happy to do so! Here is a loose translation from the article published in 2017:

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"더 나은 사회를 위한 재활용 자재의 천국"

“Paradise of Recycling ResourcesFor Better Place”

The Rebuilding Center, located in Mississippi Avenue, is a “treasure house” for people in Portland who need lots of different kinds of materials to reconstruct their houses or repair things. When walking into the center, you might be impressed with its diverse building and recycled materials placed along a long path, and you may feel like you are in a material amusement park. The Rebuilding Center is a non-profit organization and offers deconstruction for the local community. The center provides local residents with a platform to buy and donate their used materials. The profits made by the people who make purchases in the store are used to support the community. In other words, the community benefits from the reuse economy by donating their materials. This operation works more efficiently than other non-profit organization because it is different from other traditional operations, mainly relying on donation than subsidy. By gathering 8 tons of materials every day, the Rebuilding Center is operated by over 2,000 volunteers yearly and is able to utilize those materials to build shelters for homeless people. Since last year, the center has supported a community network called the Village Coalition. Furthermore, the Rebuilding Center has collaborated with Portland State University students, so the center and PSU students can work together to build more shelters for homeless people. It also offers hands-on educational programming for youth on how to work with used building materials in an intensive workshop for 3 days. This program can be considered as one part of STEAM, an educational approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics (STEAM).