South Korea to Seattle: Meet our intern Ginny

Ginny standing in front of the cherry blossoms at the University of Washington

“A few years ago I was re-considering my career path to find a new opportunity. I entered an online university to earn a certificate in teaching in Korean language for foreign learners. And then, by chance, I got to know about the university’s caregiving program,” Ginny said. “I realized that I would have no idea how to take care of my parents if they had dementia. I got scared. I also realized that there were a lack of resources and support in Korea, and that a lot of people around me also don’t understand the disease. I see lots of potential to grow in this area.”  For Ginny, studying the field of aging was not her original goal, but it’s something she now intends to pursue as a career.

Meet Ginny Minjin Song, our intern from South Korea. Ginny is set to graduate this June from the University of Washington School of Social Work with a Master of Social Work with a concentration in Multigenerational Practice with Elders. She has been a part of our team since October 2018.

Ginny has plans to one day own her own business, and her studies in social work, coupled with her previous degrees in economics, international studies and Korean language have brought her one step closer. As an intern, she is trying to soak up as much information as she can on how the Alzheimer’s Association works.

“As an intern, I am interested in learning about developing programs or resources for the care managers or the staff, collaborative work with other agencies, or even cross-functional programs within the same agency. I would like to work on things from the mezzo/macro level, rather than at the face-to-face level. I’d like to grasp the overall operations and administration of the Association,” she said.

For her final project, she is partnering with the Korean Women’s Association to run a community forum in the Korean language to assess how the Korean community could benefit with help from the Alzheimer’s Association. “There are lots of Koreans living in Washington State, and not all of them can speak English, so language barriers are one of their issues,” Ginny said. “I think that among Koreans it’s shameful to talk about something like disabilities or dementia. It’s seen as a kind of ‘flaw in the family.’”

She hopes to work on the eradication of this stigma of aging and dementia. Ginny said that often in Korean culture people don’t think that they should share their hardships, and caring for their parents is seen as an obligation. The government insists that it is the citizen’s job to take care of their parents. She has been working on translating Alzheimer’s Association documents into Korean as well as using the Korean Women’s Association connections to help spread her message.

Ginny clearly has a passion for learning. Since starting school in the U.S., she has learned about her future career path by taking elective classes related to family care. She took a class in the law field and learned about “Death with Dignity” in Washington and compared it to Korea. She has been learning immensely about American social justice issues and comparing them to her home country. She tries to attend aging-related workshops and seminars to learn as much information as she can. Here at the Alzheimer’s Association, she learned about advocacy and fundraising. Ginny is happy to be learning from reputable agencies like the Alzheimer’s Association and the University of Washington.

In her Multigenerational Policy-Services Platform class, Ginny created a video explaining the BOLD Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act. You can watch it here.

We are so lucky that we were able to work with Ginny as part of her education, and we are excited to see where her future takes her! Her last day here at the Association will be at the end of May. Thank you for all of your dedication, Ginny. 

The Korean Alzheimer’s Community Forum will take place on May 20, 2019  from 12:30 – 2:00 p.m. at the Korean Women’s Association in Federal Way. 31635 23rd Ave. S Federal Way, WA. The community forum will be mainly in the Korean language. To register, call 425.230.4665. 

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