[Editorial] You can make a difference, too

Published February 2015 in Groove Korea

When Daniel Payne came to Korea in 2003, he was conflicted. As a 23-year-old divorcé struggling with balancing his religion and homosexuality, he found no sympathy from the local Christian Church. But years of questioning God led him to realize a higher purpose: to create a home for those in the LGBTQ community who were shunned by the church but still sought comfort in their religion. After many months, he found a home for his congregation, the Open Doors Community Church, and has extended his reach as a counselor and pastor to help establish Rainbow, a safe space for closeted teens.

It is the efforts of people like Daniel that have inspired our coverage and support over the years, those whose contributions to a cause — be it raising breast cancer awareness, enriching the local craft brew options, opening a martial arts center, giving artists a forum to share and create, helping companies do business in new markets, fighting HIV-related discrimination or carrying the banner for multicultural policies in parliament — have made our lives here all the richer.

Likewise, Steve and Shannon Kuiack sought to bring together their surrounding community, and launched The Groove Magazine in 2006. Their aim was to create “a welcoming place for all ages, genders and nationalities, aimed at bridging multiple cultures together to learn from each other, grow together, get informed and just be entertained,” and their efforts, we believe, have made the expat community experience all the richer, too.

As the expat scene has grown and matured over the years, Groove has documented it every step of the way. And while staying true to the Kuiacks’ mission, we have also raised the bar for ourselves with the goal of showing our readers a little bit more. We hope to have shed new light with our coverage of the Anti-English Spectrum, Korea’s racism against black people, stigmas against unwed mothers, the failures of Korea’s EFL education system, the dying traditions of old-world Jeju, corruption and malaise in the local mainstream media and, most recently, sex workers’ demands for a safe and just work environment. All the while, we have remained committed to supporting expats’ efforts to improve their niche of the community.

We celebrate the achievement of reaching our 100th issue — more than four times thicker than the first and involving more than 50 writers, editors and photographers — by acknowledging the often unsung heroes behind those efforts, each of whom started with a clear vision for something new. This list, which we have left unranked, is far from definitive and lacks many other people deserving inclusion; nonetheless, we hope that at least one of these 100 (or so) influential people’s stories will perhaps lead others to follow suit.

As I wrote in our October 2014 anniversary issue, Korea sets the perfect stage for you to dream big, and I hope Groove Korea’s efforts have shown that these are words we live by. With each new issue I am humbled and inspired by the talent and commitment not only of our tireless volunteer staff and contributors but also of the people we have covered in these pages. Therefore, I am stepping down from the helm of this publication (along with community editor Jenny Na and senior copy editor Jaime Stief) with a great sense of satisfaction of our accomplishments and the confidence that the expat scene still has bigger and brighter ambitions ahead of it, both in English media and in the greater community.

Above all, I am grateful for you, our readers, for giving us a reason to work through the late hours of so many nights month after month. Your appreciation has been our fuel. In exchange, I hope that we have brought you a little closer to the world around you and perhaps shown you a way to get involved in it. Don’t be afraid to dream big, carve a new path and make a difference — change starts with you.

On behalf of the editorial staff since 2006, I thank you for 100 months of support.

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