Two interesting things. One, I found out that the birth name of famous magician Harry Houdini was Eric Weiss. Spice!
Second, I was listening to the local Christian radio station, and it’s an instrumental, so I think interesting. And afterwards, the DJ announces, “And that song was ‘Avalon’ by John Tesh.” Yikes! What the heck is John Tesh music doing on a Christian radio station?
I was recently talking with some people and I realized how much of a loser I was freshman year. I cannot believe the kind of time that I had. But apparently I had a lot of it because I spent so much time screwing around it’s unbelievable. One thing I remember is the Web page thing. I hate to sound like one of those back in the days
I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I have never experienced true friendship, nor can I recall ever seeing it anywhere.
Interview with FiCS President David Hong
Interviewed by Daniel Chai and Jieun Park
Name: David Hong
Home: Burr Ridge, IL
Major: Mathematical and Computational Science
Birthday: Sep 18. 1976
Favorite Verse: This week – Luke 10:16 “Whoever listens to you listens to me…”
Favorite Food: Shepherd’s Pie
Favorite Games: Tetris and Daleks. I play them constantly.
Favorite passage: Ezekiel 34? I don’t know. When I read that I was encouraged. It’s about the Good Shepherd that’s about to come.
Danny – I have to ask the standard interview question; do you have a girlfriend?
Dave – I’m not involved but I’m taken. I don’t know if that’s the right word for a guy to use but I’m taken.
Jieun – Tell us how you became a Christian.
Dave – I was baptized so I believe I was saved at birth. Ha! It’s really about what you call being Christian. I could say that I was Christian my whole life. But the most influential period was the ministry of one person my senior year at high school. I really feel like this person loved me when I didn’t deserve and cared about and spent time with me. But to me being to me becoming Christian wasn’t like one moment; I believe God was working in my whole life. There were crucial times, especially when I became overwhelmed with the knowledge that God has always been there.
Danny – Speaking of high school, we know you went to boarding school at Andover. What was that like?
Dave – It changed my life, without question. I came in a dorky geeky little boy, and I left an older, geeky boy. But seriously, you know why it changed me? I came in dorky, you know, but I left more confident, not in my own abilities, but in who I was. Andover shaped me, I don’t know what it was but I left knowing who I was.
Danny – Do you have a heart for Andover?
Dave – Yeah I do. I want to go back, teach them, at least for the short term. I’d teach math; in fact that’s why I’m majoring in math. There’s a teaching fellowship there where you teach for one year. If God doesn’t open that door, and takes me maybe to another boarding school, that’s cool and whatever but I do have a heart for Andover. I know what I lacked at Andover so in a sense I know what they’re lacking; they just need to be loved, to be shown unconditional love. Not that I could give that freely, but it’s something I’ve been working at at Stanford and I’m trying to understand what that is.
Danny – How has it been being FiCS President this year?
Dave – I think it’s really been good, a blessing, because I was just really afraid that I would die, that the stress would kill me. I shared with a brother earlier this year that I was sure that I would burn out. But the way things have been, people have stepped up and have been picking up the slack, and things have been ok. I’m a little worried about the next 2 quarters with the lack of pastors but I’ve been convicted that people aren’t coming because of the pastors, or even who we are, but because God led them there. That doesn’t allow us to be complacent, but it’s a peace that I have. It’s just “Dave don’t worry, it’s Me, it’s My fellowship, it’s not your fellowship.” So people come because they’re blessed by the Holy Spirit and I think that’s what’s allowed me to have some peace.
Danny – What were some goals you had for FiCS this year?
Dave – Well I had personal goals and I sort of extended that to FiCS. Just a more welcoming environment for people to come; that our love would extend beyond friends, you know; I don’t know if that makes sense. Just that we would learn to love, and there are several goals behind that, like being more closer with the non-Christian population at Stanford, and with the rest of the Christian population here, etc.
Danny – What do you think about the Dave Hong lingo spreading the campus. I know that these phrases you started up, like “Bold, Spicy, and Tense” have been picked up not just by FiCS but by other Christians at Stanford, and even non-Christians as well.
Dave – I’ve uncomfortable about it. Because I never started it with the intention that people should do it. I’ve always tried to be myself, to be who I am, and I never want to perform in front of people. I never wanted people to say it. But it makes me feel good that people think that Danny Chai started it.
Jieun – So what’s your relationship like with Danny Chai? I’ve always wondered because as a freshman, you come in, and you don’t really know anything. So after a while, it’s like, oh! It’s amazing to see that these older people knew each other and had separate personalities.
Dave – I can say that I think Danny is the only person I feel close to in FiCS. All my other friends are not in FiCS.
Jieun – When you say “tense” are you really tense?
Dave – I think it’s for filler, but I think a lot of the time I really am tense. Sometimes people ask why I say tense and I always have a reason. There’s always some sort of conflict, a tension there. That’s why it’s tense.
Danny – Why did you start saying tense, bold, spicy? When?
Dave – Bold was freshman year. I think 50% is me, 50% is Danny’s fault. Like Danny would say it and I would just pick it up. Bold was just from this one conversation and it was forever etched in my memory. Spicy, I don’t know where I started it. It was sometime Sophomore year, I don’t know when, but it just seemed to work. Tense I’ve been saying before all of these. I mean, I’ve been tense since I was 4. But I’ve been saying it a lot more this year. Anytime I have to talk in front of people, I feel tense, so that’s why this year I say it like every other second.
Jieun – When did you start singing?
Dave – Seventh grade. I was forced to do Vocal Music as an elective in Jr. High when I wanted to do Radio/TV. I was like, what is this, “vocal music”? I went in there like why am I here what the heck and this teacher came in and said we’re starting a chorus and we’re going to Washington, DC so if you’re interested come and try out. And I did, and I’ve been involved with singing ever since until this year.
Danny – Tell us about the Hong Gazette.
Dave – It’s this newspaper my dad has made since I was in 8th grade, maybe a little earlier. It’s just an update of me and my 2 older brothers’ lives. It’s a newsletter about my family that he started when my oldest brother went to college. He updates what every family member is going through and how everyone is doing and on the back my grandma gives a Korean lesson. I think it’s a good idea. My dad has incredible staying power. Is that the word? He’s very faithful. I’m very flakey. He’s kept this up every week since 8th grade. Think about it. That’s 9 years, every week, without fail, no matter what he’s going through. It’s pretty incredible. He pretty much writes it all. I’ve written a couple of articles, pretty cynical; my brothers write articles. My sister writes some articles. I love that the best; she’s like in 5th grade and you know how when you’re in that grade and you write poetry and you’re supposed to use more descriptive words, you just look in a thesaurus and so you end up with sentences like “the mahogany tree.” Her articles are like that.
Danny – What was FiCS like freshman year?
Dave – It was the most uncomfortable hour I spent every week. I’m not kidding. I’ve told this story a hundred times. I dreaded that 10:45 KCPC “coffee fellowship.” Dreaded it. I dreaded it because I knew no one there, and I think you feel most lonely when you see everyone else having fun and you’re just sitting there alone. There was one time, summer freshman year, I was there for like 3 or 4 hours, sitting there by myself and not a single person came up and talked to me.
Danny – What about FiCS, not KCPC?
Dave – They were both tense. Because FiCS was like I would come and I didn’t really know everyone there, only kind of Danny, and everyone else I really didn’t know. And it’s weird when you kind of have been coming for a while, but you still don’t know names, it’s like, how do I say hello to this person; oh no, what would I do if I saw them on campus, tense! But I still kind of wish for those days again. even though it was uncomfortable, because I feel the thing about FiCS and the people that made it up that year was that it was a bunch of losers. A lot of people came that wouldn’t have gone to any other fellowship, and this was the fellowship that somehow met their needs in some sort of sense, and I think we’ve sort of lost that group of people. I think FiCS has gained this “holy, awesome Christian” aura, and I don’t know, that’s just not how it started out.
Jieun – Is it that it’s less personal?
Dave – For me, it’s never been personal. For me, it’s always been about surviving. I think I look back and I’m just glad I survived. I think if you ask the seniors a lot of them will feel that way.
Danny – Tell us about how you were the only fruit.
Dave – So Jimmy Ahn I guess talked to Pastor Dave and they said let’s start a ministry at Stanford. There were a handful going to KCPC consistently, I think. So Jimmy Ahn and Paul “hopemd” Kim flyered the entire campus with these flyers for KCPC. But not a single person called them, except me. So the fruit of all their labor was me. [Editor’s note: a possible reason they did not get more response was because the flyer said: “Want to get off campus? Korean Central Presbyterian Church.”] I didn’t even want to go to KCPC, it was my second choice. My first was Berkland, now NCBC. Because I saw it as a pro-fro, and it clicked; I liked the people, they were friendly to me they talked to me. But I was in Testimony, and they met when Berkland Sunday Worship met, both in the afternoon, so that was when I looked for KCPC.
Danny – Why a Korean church?
Dave – That’s just what I was familiar with and that’s what I wanted to do.
Danny – Tell us about your vision for the Korean church in the future.
Dave – It’s not a “vision” for the Korean church, it just worries me. The way I’ve seen the church, the way it’s run, we’re all just caught up, everything is about equipping the saints and nothing is about reaching the lost. So I feel like what’s gonna happen is it’s just gonna be older people but just like a youth group, just like a youth group with older
people. What I see about the tone of outreach is come to church, come to small group and get involved, come on Sundays, come hang out with us on Friday. In a sense I don’t see much of a loss of who _we_ are for them, for other people. So that’s my worry, I don’t know if that’s my vision. But I’m just a young punk, what do I know. Although I feel like I’ve learned a lot about big Korean churches at Stanford. There really has to be the right vision. My vision for like a church is just a bunch of broken, uncomfortable people in the congregation. Like this church I’ve been to it’s just a bunch of broken uncomfortable people who don’t really fit in. And what it’s like now is just trying to fit in and do your thing. You really have to do a lot to be uncomfortable, to leave your comfort zone. I think that has to change, you can’t just expect people to come to you, that’s just not the way I. think it should be.
Danny – What’s your feeling about L.A. Koreans?
Dave – My problem is not that they think the city’s great, that’s fine. I love Chicago whatever, but my conception of Chicago is broader than the conceptions of LA Koreans. There are so many Koreans there that when they talk about LA I think they’re talking about Korean LA, and that’s why I’m uncomfortable. My sense of why I love Chicago is just all this stuff. I was made fun of what I looked like for a long time, until maybe like 9th grade, and that’s a part of me. And I’m not angry or cynical about it; I think every Asian in this country should go through that, because that’s a sense of America – OK, I’m different, and there’s other people out there besides people like me.
Danny – So why are you so smiley in the the Class of 1998 Freshman Picture Book?
Dave – No comment. It had to do with my testicular surgery.
Danny – What’s the single most important lesson you’ve learned at Stanford?
Dave – I think I learned it this year. it’s just love. Maybe it’s because I’m reading Les Miserables. Love is like love past what’s expected of you. That’s so important in this life. Everyone lives to this point that they’re right, it’s right to live to this point of what’s expected. But to pass this point, that’s rare, not that it’s past a line of appropriateness, just that it’s unexpected, and that kind of love is rare. Like Frosh year, I’m in the bathroom, this guy comes in, rushes in and pukes all over the place. The standard thing to think is how gross, you’ve disgusted me, but the love in that circumstance is to say, hey are you OK? The expected thing is to say how gross and the world would agree with you and support, but that’s not loving.
Danny – What do you see yourself doing in ten years?
Dave – No idea.
Danny – What do you want to do?
Dave – Seriously, I have no idea. That’s the type of person I am. I have no idea what I’m doing. What would i want to do? I would want… to know what I’m doing for the next 10 years.
Danny – When will you find out?
Dave – I’m pretty sure that I’m not going to be a successful person in life. I really feel like, have you ever seen Scent of a Woman? Remember that speech he made at the end? “Every time I reached a crossroads I picked the wrong one because it was too hard?” I’m not saying it was too hard, but I think my life has a series of failures. A series of things I look back, not with regret, but like I could have done better; I know that that’s not all I could have done.