I cannot emphasize enough how tense FiCS was freshman year. This is kinda blunt, but whatever, it’s all good, because I believe I now have comfortable relationships (even if it’s superficial) with everyone that was in FiCS that year. But that year ohmygoodness, it was so uncomfortable. David Hong doesn’t know the half of it, because I went to every FiCS meeting (which were way way tenser than Sundays) and most of the gatherings.
The great thing about FiCS back then is that it was only looked down upon by other Christian groups, at least those that heard of us. Most people had never heard of us. And why would they have? We started in the middle of freshman year. Anyway, non-Christians didn’t really know us (am I making this up? I don’t think so). So we didn’t have a bad reputation then. It’s only starting the next year that we started getting the bad reputation that we did. I still remember when a famous character in Serra senior year yelled in the dining hall “I hate Asian Christians!” Would anyone have said that before FiCS existed? I don’t know. Go team.
So I think it’s useful to explain how FiCS came about freshman year. I know I’ve gone over this about 1000 times but whatever. It was all Jimmy Ahn. Jimmy was this random Stanford guy who went to church at KCPC, the only Stanford person there (well pretty much, there were like 2-3 others) and with Pastor Dave, decided to start a Stanford ministry. I don’t know if he intended to create FiCS, but in the beginning, he just got people ware of KCPC and got them to go there.
He printed up hundreds of flyers that said “Wanna get off campus? Korean Central Presbyterian Church. Call Jimmy Ahn (7-1234) or David Kim (7-2345). I’m surprised anyone called at all. But one person did. That person was David Hong. As we often say, he was the sole fruit of that flyering campaign.
Everyone else that came out to KCPC heard about it through word of mouth. Dave Choi went to Bethel and a lot of Bethel people went there (at Berkeley) so that’s why he went. I heard about Jimmy through a friend Joonho that had gone to Urbana with him. He told me to look out for a Jimmy. It turns out Jimmy was an AA in my dorm, and he met Eddie and so I met him that way. I think me and Eddie had a different AA though, since we were both pre-med. Like 80% of my frosh dorm.
So everyone heard through word of mouth through the typical Korean Christian So Cal connections. Like several went to Sunny Hills or Whitney. It was all just about connections. Which meant that everyone that was in FiCS frosh year hung out in the same crowd with few exceptions. So FiCS was Dave Kim (senior), Jimmy Ahn (junior), who had whatever crowd they were in. Paul Kim (sophomore) was off in his own world. It is impossible to underestimate how much of a weirdo Paul was. Anyway, the other sophomores were Janet Ahn, Juliet Noh, and Carrie Hwang. They were all drawmates and into the Asian thing.
The rest were freshmen – Ben Hur, Linnea Kim, Ohms, Phil Kim, Dave Choi, Dave Hong, me, Eddie Ahn (kind of), Brian Ma, Kang Ahn (kind of), Jane Kim, Claudia Park, Karine Choi, Susan (is it Lee? Linnea’s roommate), Brian Lee, Hansen Noh, Leo Hsu, Val Hsieh, Jay Kwon (kickback@leland), and that’s pretty much it. I’m listing everyone, even those ever so loosely associated with FiCS, but whatever.
Anyway, as you can see, the vast majority dropped off their even slight association with FiCS as the years went by. Second thing is, the majority of these people were really into the Asian community at Stanford. So they were like all part of the same group of friends/clique. So those that weren’t into that were pretty much outsiders. By this I mean, me, Eddie, Dave Hong, Val, Dave Choi. This is just my personal analysis. But seriously, the lives they lived freshman year were like light years away from the lives we led.
This, incidentally, is why I personally stuck with FiCS. I know other people had different reasons, but I thought with the people being so involved in the Asian community, we had an opportunity to reach out that other fellowships didn’t, because they (like FiCS does now) instead of trying to reach out, try to fit people into this “Christian” model and they don’t feel comfortable. Does this make sense? My bold claim (which I don’t think is that bold) is that were it not for FiCS, most of the people I mentioned wouldn’t have gone to any fellowship at all frosh year. So my feeling was that’s cool, because really Stanford doesn’t need another fellowship like all the others. But, if we’re a fellowship that gets people who wouldn’t otherwise be going to a fellowship, then that’s a good thing, and who cares if other fellowships (and FiCB) looks down on us. As it turned out, we became just like every other fellowship on campus, except more cliquish.
At any rate, I sure didn’t stick with FiCS for the fellowship. Heavens. If you weren’t into that whole Asian thing, it was just really uncomfortable for you. I don’t know if this makes any sense, but it made me hate L.A. for a while. But everyone when everyone seems to know each other really well, except for a few people in a group setting, and don’t make much of an effort to talk to you, it is really difficult. Most of those early FiCS meetings I only talked to Jimmy, Big Dave, Dave Choi or Pastor Dave. It was so tense.
Not that they weren’t nice. Some of them were, it’s just they got into this group mentality, and in that kind of situation, someone in the dominant group has to be especially nice to the outsiders, just passingly nice is not enough, because that depends on some initiative from the outsider, and it just doesn’t work that way.
Why the heck did I stay in FiCS throughout the year? Mostly guilt. Jimmy pressured me every week to go to KCPC (not knowingly – he just thought I had already decided on a church although I was shopping around) and I don’t do well with guilt so I went. Pretty lame reason, but whatever. I was still in IV, where I had my fellowship so whatever.
So every single Sunday was supa dupa tense. I was mostly alone because dorkface Eddie had serious problems getting up. Actually, that was a big problem freshman year. We had to leave at 8 AM to get to church, and that was a huge things frosh year. I don’t think any of us were really really consistent in going. Everyone missed from time to time. The thing was that no one else at Stanford was getting up that early and staying at church that long so it seemed even harder. Plus we had to squeeze into 2 or 3 cars. I regularly slept in the back of Jimmy’s truck on the way to church. You kids have it easy.
Anyway, it was really hard to get up that early. And even if we did get up, it was hard to stay awake. If you ever watched Dave Hong, his head nodded off every single Sunday. It was actually amusing to see when exactly it happened.
So yeah, Eddie didn’t go, so there were few people I could talk to, and we were so outnumbered by Berkeley people who made no effort to talk to us, and there was this tense coffee fellowship time. Ugh. If Dave wasn’t there, I was doomed, I just had to spend 10-15 minutes in silent loneliness until the study started. Not only were we a super minority in terms of Stanford vs. Berkeley, but we were a minority at Stanford. It’s a very lonely feeling. If you can understand that, I think you can better understand why Dave was so against coffee fellowship. That and the 3 hour incident.
So that was all background. There are so many stories of tension I don’t know where I could start. I wrote about this before but there was this one dinner, basically all the freshmen and Jimmy, except I was the only guy there and all the girls knew each other, plus all the Asians in Manzanita. I was just totally surprised that they were all friends. And they were way too busy talking to other people to talk to me. It was tense. The only person who talked to me that entire dinner besides Jimmy (and maybe Dave Choi might have been there) was Jane Kim.
I had this tense relationship with Ohms frosh year because we kind of learned who each other was by the FiCS meetings, but we were never really introduced, and she never ever acknowledged my existence. Frosh year there were these group of Asian girls that always hung out together, all Asian, and people called them the Hydra. OK, maybe only I called them the Hydra, but it was appropriate. The Hydra is a mythical beast with many heads, and if you remove one head, another appears. It was also the name of a G.I. Joe vehicle. Anyway, you never saw any of them alone, and they were pretty much interchangeable in my mind, thus the Hydra.
So Ohms and Patty were in my Chem 33 section, and never did they talk to me. Ever. It was really tense. Because we pretended not to know each other, then Tuesday night we’d see each other at FiCS. Tense. Me and Henry had a good discussion about this once.
But seriously, every FiCS meeting was so tense, because as soon as the Bible study with Pastor Dave was over, I had no one to talk to. Ugh. Super tense. Sundays were similar. And like that one dinner, special meetings were even more tense.
I went to the Winter Retreat freshman year and that was so so tense. The only people that went were Ben Hur, Brian Ma, and assorted heads of the Hydra. Anyway, when it came time to sleep, the girls were off (not that I could talk to any of them) and I don’t know a single soul at Berkeley, so me, Jimmy, Ben and Brian set up camp together. Jimmy was off talking to various Berkeley folk, so it was me, Ben and Brian. The thing is, it was like Ben and Brian were best friends. They were just really close and whatever, so I couldn’t talk to them at all. I don’t know if you can understand this, but we were freshman that didn’t really know each other. Plus I was shyer then, so I just couldn’t break in. So, there were tons of people around (the entire college group at church!) all having a good time, and I had literally 0 people to talk to. Pretty uncomfortable.
Of course there’s the famous Soli Deo Gloria picture from frosh year. Frosh year, Stanford does this special praise at Berkeley’s Soli Deo Gloria. So Big Dave wrote the song (Forever) and he sings. We need another female vocalist – Ohms is chosen. I play guitar. We need a keyboardist, so we choose Jane. The rest sing or do body worship or something or other. Great moment. Anyway, at the end we all take a picture and the picture is great, because it looks like we’re all friends and buddies. We weren’t at all. I wasn’t comfortable with anyone. But the picture is so deceiving. Anyway, that’s why when me or Dave look at group pictures we make these sarcastic remarks like, “Everyone here are best friends.”
When Leo came it was a godsend, because I immediately felt comfortable with him, and he was pretty consistent in coming out (to both KCPC and FiCS, I think, I always had someone to talk to, now). Eddie was a super flake and Dave didn’t come to FiCS. Anyway, thank God for Leo.
Valentine’s Day, Jimmy had the guys cook for the girls. It went pretty well. We got a bunch of banchan from Korea House, and made the bulgogi. We made rice, but it didn’t turn out, so we went to Manzanita and emptied the huge rice cooker there on like 8 heaping plates, and took that. I still remember the look on the the checker’s face when we put the tray down with nothing but tons of rice. Anyway, that was Valentine’s Day dinner, and as usual, none of the girls talked to me.
There was also this famous trip to Korea House. Everyone in FiCS went to Korea House, and David brings his “friend” Judy. I actually can’t remember the details of the night, except that Eddie made it (Eddie made it out to every event, like basketball and food, unless it involved some sort of spirituality) and that the whole night everyone was wondering who the heck this Judy character was. The best part of course, are the pictures from that night. Which I have. FiCS and Judy. Great.
Another great night was playing True Colors with Jimmy, Linnea, her friend Annette (Patty Kwon’s sister), Ohms, and Jane Kim. There may have been some other people there but that’s all I remember. So the game True Colors is like this – everyone gets like a different colored badge. Then a question is asked, like “If you were stuck on a stranded island with only one other person, who would you most want to be with?” Or “Who’s most likely to do such and such.” Then you pass it around and each person puts in a card with the color of the person you selected, so it’s anonymous, and you get points for getting a lot of cards, or choosing who got the most, etc.
So basically the game is predicated on people knowing each other well. I knew no one there. I don’t even think I had exchanged a word with Ohms yet at that point. And Annette I had met that evening. Anyway, the game went terribly, because it was more or less random. It was like, hmm. I don’t know anyone here, but sure why not, I think Annette would do that. It was absurd. In fact, it was the least fun I’ve ever had playing a game in my entire life. I don’t even remember how the heck this gathering occurred.
When it comes down to it, it was tense only because everyone else (including the sophomores) were in this world, I mean really into this world that I wasn’t at all. Naturally it’s uncomfortable for me. If you look at their pictures from frosh year and mine, it’s like, did we go to the same school?
And yet, the great thing is, I am comfortable with all of them now. How did it happen? The grace of God.
Plus literally everything changed sophomore year. Suddenly, FiCS was filled with people more like me than everyone else, meaning raised in the church, typical Asian-American Christians who would have gone to another fellowship had FiCS not existed. And then all the people from frosh year were suddenly outsiders and they left. And I became an insider. It was really weird.