Sunny Hills students take initiative in political fields

Sophomore+Reena+Jung+makes+a+call+to+voters+on+Sept.+30+and+gives+reasons+why+they+should+vote+for+Young+Kim%2C+who+was+declared+the+winner+of+the+39th+Congressional+District+seat+in+the+House+of+Representatives.+

Image used with permission from Reena Jung.

Sophomore Reena Jung makes a call to voters on Sept. 30 and gives reasons why they should vote for Young Kim, who was declared the winner of the 39th Congressional District seat in the House of Representatives.

Esther Oh

As the first summer under quarantine from coronavirus began, some students took the chance to relax at home. Others rushed to fulfill internships, academic opportunities or other extracurricular activities.

The latter was the case for sophomore Reena Jung, who decided to use her free time to aid national congresswoman candidate Young Kim’s campaign (Kim eventually pulled away and was announced as the winner of the race to represent in the House of Representatives for California’s 39th congressional district).

Jung first heard about the campaign through Cypress High School junior Justin Kim, the neighborhood team leader of the campaign, who she knew from church. He was asking people around Cypress and Cerritos if anyone is interested in interning for the campaign, and Jung quickly took the opportunity. 

“I’m working for Kim because I support her and would like to gain leadership and communication skills,” Jung said. “I’m interested in politics to a certain extent, but I’m more curious about how the world works around us.”

As a Korean-American student, Jung is glad that Kim won the race. 

“Like everyone else who helped in the campaign, I’m glad she won,” Jung said. “The fact that she’s a Korean-American woman representing us in Congress makes me feel great too.” 

As an intern for the campaign from June to November, Jung called and wrote postcards to those in California’s 39th Congressional District in both Korean and English to educate citizens about the politician’s political beliefs and why they should vote for her. She worked on Mondays and Wednesdays for four hours a week from June to September, but to increase voter contact, started working up to 32 hours a week until Election Day.

“I wish we could do in-person activities like door-to-door canvassing rather than just making phone calls, but at the same time, I do believe that phone banking makes a difference,” she said.

Jung said she was on the social media team in which volunteers discuss how to increase the number of Kim’s supporters, and the campaign strategy team, where they think of general ways to get Kim elected by analyzing opposing candidates’ campaigns.

“I enjoy surveying Korean voters because I enjoy carrying out conversations with them,” Jung said. “Being able to speak in Korean is not something that all volunteers and interns can do, so it makes me feel that I really am [making] a difference in the upcoming November election.”

Though not interning for a Fullerton candidate’s campaign, senior Kathryn Aurelio also got involved in politics by volunteering for the Brea branch of the California Democratic Party.

“I’m really interested in politics, and it seems like this is one of the most important elections of our lifetime because of the controversy and polarization between Americans caused by the current president,” said Aurelio, who plans to pursue political science in the future. “Since I can’t vote, this is the best I can do to be involved in the election.”

Aurelio supported democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s campaign by calling voters to promote propositions and encouraging voters to volunteer and re-elect representatives.

“One of my favorite parts is meeting new people and making friends by virtually bonding over weird experiences with the people we call,” she said. “Creating posters together is also a favorite.” 

Aurelio said she was able to become more aware of the current issues and events while getting first-hand experience in directly advocating to fix them.

“I think all students should participate in some civil engagement at one point; it’s not only for those who know a lot about politics,” she said. “I certainly didn’t know a lot a year ago but learned so much through experience.”