Christy Choi On Celebrating Family

Director of Library Services, Christy Choi, shares specific aspects of the Korean culture that are observed this month during the celebration of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage.

Christy, with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Joung. (1973)

She explains, “As the United States celebrates the month of May as Asian American and Pacific Island Heritage, Korean culture (한국: Hanguk) celebrates May as the family month (가정의 달). Starting with Children’s Day (어린이 날) on May 5, Parent’s Day (어버이 날) on May 8, Adoption Day (입양의 날) on May 11, and Couple’s Day (부부의 날) on May 21, Korean culture begins the spring with celebrating their families, honoring their parents and community.”

When it comes to celebrating family, Christy graciously shares her appreciation for two families—of her own culture and the culture of Nyack College, a place she now considers “home.”

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I was an introverted and pessimistic girl who did not have any hope in my life or for the future when I came to America to join my parents in 1991. Plus, starting a new life in a foreigner’s world was not easy for me or for my parents, who had just planted their very first church, Bethel Korean Evangelical Church in Flushing, Queens. My entire family used work each night simply to make collars and cuffs for blouses for which we were paid just 10 to 25 cents each. The following day, my parents rode bicycles to deliver over 1,000 collars to the factory because they could not drive. Life was harsh for many immigrant families coming to the U.S.

Denominational retreat of Korean Evangelical Churches at Nyack College in 1993.

My story started to change in the summer of 1993 when I came to Nyack College as support staff for a church retreat. The first night of the worship at Nyack’s Pardington Hall on the Rockland campus, I met my God, who simply washed over my spirit and called me His own. I knew that I needed to be back at Nyack College desperately, to learn more about God, who told me that I am loved and that my life matters.

After a couple of years of prayer, I learned about the Korean Extension School of Nyack College a few blocks from my home and started to attend in 1996. I recall this as the first miracle in my life because it allowed me to study in Korean during the evenings and work during the daytime, so I could cover my study and tuition.

Mr. and Mrs. Joung on a 2016 visit to Nyack’s Eastman Library to pray over the Nyack/ATS community.

Recently, I began leading the Eastman Library team as culture creators to cultivate the presence of God in our daily lives, which I learned and adopted from the ATS D.Min. program. I often say to others, God blessed me with both eastern and western cultures. Nyack / ATS is a diverse community of cultures and generations. I honor my heritage and celebrate from the smallest cosmos, the family God granted me, and my bigger family, the Nyack/ATS community. I am excited about the global community of Nyack, as God is leading the institution to be even more globally engaged.

All these blessings are sparked by the fervent and endless prayers of my parents and their guidance. This month, especially, I try to join my mother’s daily prayer walk and enjoy spending time together and cherish each moment.