This is Hannah. I remember first meeting Hannah as a little freshman at an Asian Council event; she was the president of this organization at that time. She was always so hospitable to us freshmen, and she was one of the reasons I felt right at home at SMU. Then fast forward three years later, she joined staff at InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and she became my staff worker at SMU.
Hi Hannah, what are you doing right now?
I am currently on staff with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. I graduated in 2013 so it has been four years since I have been working with InterVarsity.
What was the post-grad transition like for you initially? What was the hardest thing for you?
My post-grad transition was definitely not easy, and the community is not what I thought it would be. I thought it would be a great group of people around me, from my church or old school friends, who would always be there to hang out with every other day. That’s not really the case for anyone, and it’s not reality.
I started to gather friends from different places and different parts of the world. It took a lot of effort, time, and energy to invest in those relationships. Now four years later, I am finally experiencing the community that I was looking for my first year out of college. It looks really different so it’s virtual, phone calls, texting and keeping in touch with people that way; but also making an effort to visit them. My friend and I visited my other friend at Baylor spontaneously because she was having a rough weekend. We went for a day trip for eight hours and half of that was in a car. Even doing something like that helps build trust with that relationship.
My friend and I visited my other friend at Baylor spontaneously because she was having a rough weekend. We went for a day trip for eight hours and half of that was in a car. Even doing something like that helps build trust with that relationship.
So I know that the decision to join InterVarsity staff is not an easy decision. How did you make this life-changing choice?
I definitely struggled with making a decision about my career in my senior and junior year of college. I did not want to be a psychologist or a therapist or anything in that field, but I really liked the major. I felt like God was asking me to study psychology so I was like “okay sure”. I was studying it without really knowing the purpose of why I was studying it.
It wasn’t until Urbana 2012, which is a really big student missions conference with InterVarsity, when I even considered or even heard of InterVarsity staff. It was the first time someone asked me, “hey would you consider this job?” I didn’t even know the job existed. I knew I wanted to work with college students in a university setting because that’s where any leader will be developed.
If people came out of college knowing Jesus and were impacting the world in a significant way. I knew it is so incredible and it fulfilled all the things that I wanted in life.
Was it hard to be obedient? Did your desires align with His call?
I think the overall big picture stuff did align. I love the mission of what InterVarsity does. I love that God’s purposes are being fulfilled on campus, but I think the day-to-day stuff wasn’t something I expected. I have to make my own schedule, and fundraise $50 to 60k in a year.
It was an easy decision because God really understood my desires. He wanted to honor me in my desires, which is something He did not have to do but He did. The desires that I had to really let go of was being really comfortable.
Financially, I would rather go to grad school where I never had to worry about finances and what I want to buy. But then I am realizing a greater fear would be to live a suburban lifestyle 20 years down the road and feel stuck. So even in my fear, God was honoring me in who I was.
Were there any disappointments you had to face along the way?
Disappointments are definitely real. I don’t think I was ever disappointed with what I chose to do. There were some times when I was working with students, and I felt like the students weren’t growing at all. That’s when I felt disappointed.
Whenever I started comparing myself to the people around me, that’s when I felt discontent. All my peers are seniors now or whatever in different firms. They have really high paying jobs with promotions and bonuses. They are doing things that are normal in their life. They are buying houses and buying their second car. And I am not there.
So when I compare myself, I think should I be doing what they are doing? Then I realize talking to them, they are not always happy in what they have chosen to do, and they don’t always find purpose in what they are doing. And that makes me more sad with them rather than feeling disappointed.
Are there any dreams that God has placed in your heart?
One thing God has asked me to consider is not to stay in America forever. It’s something that is scary to say aloud, but I think He’s really shown me His heart for different people and parts of the world. And the purpose He has for each one of them. Many students in other parts of the world will never know God’s purpose for them until someone goes to them.
I would love to reach out to students in different parts of the world who are lonely, confused, depressed and show them this awesome person of Jesus and be a matchmaker. It’s kind of like introducing two of your really good friends to each other, knowing that it will be the perfect match.
(Interview edited by Sue Han. Photos courtesy of Hannah Park. Top photo by Sue Han.)