Reporter (Lee): What made you come all the way to Korea?
Olivo: I was given the opportunity to attend university either in the United States or in several Asian countries. Though fluent and comfortable with English, I thought going to the States was not the “new thing.” One of my good friends complimented her study in Taiwan and recommended me to matriculate university there, but I wanted to go somewhere different. No one from my home country had ever heard of Korea. I essentially wanted to be the first one to step into this mystical country and unravel its exoticism. I wanted to be a pioneer.
Lee: How are you so fluent in Korean?
Olivo: Since I was little, Korea seemed like a mystical country somewhere far off in Asia that I always wanted to embark on. Attending international schools with some Korean students enabled me to learn about Korea and assimilate interests in the country.
Lee: Why did you want to create an organization in Korea?
Olivo: I made SKY Events because I felt empathy towards other foreign students struggling to adjust living in Korea. As many foreign students find it hard to fit in as an “equal” with Koreans, I had seen many friends leave Korea with scars in their hearts. I wanted a change and wanted to make that change. That was why I made SKY Events, meaning “opportunities that create bonds.”
Lee: I have heard that you try to build stronger ties with Ewha students. Why and how so?
Olivo: Having worked with a student reporter from Ewha’s bi-weekly English newspaper, the Ewha Voice, the other co-founders and I got the idea of recruiting “buddy reporters” who would write interview articles about international students who are sociable with Korean students. SKY Events recently created an online student community Web site for both Korean and international students to read news and post comments via Facebook about the latest hot events or information about other international students attending different universities. We will soon be recruiting buddy reporters to write such articles, which will be edited by the student reporter from the Ewha Voice. As Ewha is also prominent for having one of most international students and foreign exchange students, I hope to create another project that would involve working with Ewha students and thinking of ways to brighten society.
Lee: What were some hardships you faced as a student entrepreneur living in Korea?
Olivo: I was worried that SKY Events would not become as successful as I had wanted it to be. At first, the other co-founders and I tried organizing volunteer work that recruits students to go to orphanages and teach and play with the children. However, because it was difficult for us to recruit a certain number of people to visit every week, the idea was turned down. Also few people came to our party events because SKY Events was little known. I learned that nothing is ever too easy.
Lee: Does being a foreign student place limits in achieving your goals in Korea?
Olivo: Certainly not. I see potentialities in Korea for development. All international students, even those at Ewha, should have courage in achieving their goals because their efforts can light hope for change.
Lee: What gave you courage to overcome your difficulties?
Olivo: I have lost loved ones. I think it was this loss that made me grow inside. I want to live a life that would not disappoint the ones I love, which may be why I never want to give up on the things I have passion for.
Lee: What is your dream and how do you want to pursue it?
Olivo: I want to become an entrepreneur in Korea and create a societal organization in the Korean society that could unite all people of different races together as one. Though SKY Events is only something that gathers all university students to have fun altogether, I still gave it a shot.