Shim enjoys ‘connecting with people’

Online Poster

Online Poster

By Frank Krolicki

Christina Shim, junior in applied life studies, frequently shares her vision.

Nearly every week, Shim visits and assists a Champaign family of two blind parents and their three children.

Shim said she began visiting the family, the Strattons, at the beginning of this semester.

“I knew a girl who was helping them before, but she wasn’t going to be able to do it anymore,” she said. “So I met them, thought they were great people and took her place.”

When she visits the Strattons’ home, Shim said she generally assists with chores such as cleaning the kitchen, vacuuming and reading mail.

She said she considers them good friends, not just people she helps with everyday tasks.

“When I tell people about it, many of them are initially surprised – having three kids, that alone is a lot to handle,” Shim said. “But they get along fine and have big goals and ambitions just like any other family.”

Mary Ann Stratton, the mother of a 2-year-old girl and two boys – one-and 6-year-old, the other almost 1 year old – said she appreciated Shim’s caring nature.

“She’s giving, thoughtful and just an overall cool person,” Stratton said. “If I have a bad day, I can talk to her and we can both give each other advice with problems.”

She said she was also grateful for Shim’s assistance around the house and with other tasks, such as taking the kids to doctor’s appointments.

“Before coming to Champaign, I lived in Chicago where people were not as nice, so I’m not the kind of person who expects people to do a lot for me,” Stratton said. “I try not to bother Christina too much, especially at a time like this, when I know she is very busy with classes and finals.”

Shim said while exams, homework and other activities can often leave her short on time, she is happy to do what she can and looks forward to visiting whenever she has the opportunity.

She also devotes time to International Fellowship, which meets through Covenant Fellowship Church. It is a faith-based group on campus that promotes relationships and cultural exchange between international and native students.

“The goal of the group is to provide a chance for international students to experience Christianity on campus, and also just have a place to talk,” Shim said. “But we don’t try to convert them or make them follow any specific beliefs.”

Shim said she was motivated to get involved with the group after she traveled to Spain over the summer and experienced what it was like to be immersed in a different culture.

“Being involved in this – and being on this campus in general – is good for me because I get to be exposed to all different kinds of people,” she said. “It helps me keep my eyes and mind open and see that there is a big world out there, that I can’t just live in my own little bubble.”

Shim said the large amount of diversity on campus is also something she has found beneficial. She said she was able to appreciate it more after she moved to the University from her hometown, Glen Ellyn, Ill.

Bernie Shim, her cousin, said the principal motivator in Shim’s life is faith.

“Her belief in God is what’s most important to her, and she has done a lot because of it, like missions work and volunteering at church,” Shim said.

He said Shim would undoubtedly continue to work with different kinds of people after college.

“I don’t see her with some desk job; I see her more on the front lines,” Shim said. “I think she’ll have to be helping people and having service-oriented interactions in whatever she does.”

Shim said she would eventually like to teach overseas and get to use what she has learned through studying speech and hearing sciences, as well as Spanish.

“What I see is that everyone wants to be happy, and people try to find happiness through different things, like studying really hard or partying,” she said. “I find it through connecting with people.”

Shim mentioned that she hopes to continue visiting and getting to know the Strattons, as well as meeting international students for as long as she stays on campus.

But she responds modestly when asked to discuss the impact of her service activities.

“I don’t think I’m really exceptional in any certain area of my life,” she said. “I just want to know that I’m being used as a positive light in this world.”