What makes PAVA different?
Clean ups, service, and leadership are all common norms in the many numerous community service groups scattered all across America today. There are so many groups, offering similar services and opportunities, that it is often difficult to choose one over the other. It is only certain that PAVA World is the same as well, right?

Perhaps it is similar to some, but many come out stating the differences that PAVA has brought to their life. I myself, is also guilty of being affected by the profound impact that PAVA makes to the environment, to the community, and most importantly, to its members. Behind the disguise of a common norm volunteering organization, PAVA offers its members more than just service and opportunity; PAVA offers connection, education, and culture.

As I find myself in my seventh year in service to the community through PAVA, I cannot help but have both good and bad times throughout those seven years. It is foolish to say that I have only had good times while being a member of PAVA. However, I can certainly say that every single memory is a treasure. There were definitely difficult times: waking up early, cleaning smelly trash, swatting away flies, smiling when tired…. Yes, there were some difficult times. However, looking back and seeing the overall picture, I’m glad that I have been part of PAVA for so long. Despite those unsightly memories, I also remember laughing with friends, receiving thanks from grateful citizen, the accomplishment of seeing piles of trash bags, and returning each month/year to see changes in the faces of people and the environment because of the actions that I did with PAVA.

I am sure that there are million of other organizations boasting similar achievements of receiving smiles and thanks from citizens, making an impact in the environment, etc. But, can those other groups also claim to teach their members about their own ancestry and culture?

PAVA world is primarily a Korean group. Here, PAVA works to make an impact to society by raising awareness of Korean culture as well as teach the younger generation Korean culture and ancestry. Although PAVA is predominantly Korean, all other ethnicities are welcome to join and learn about Korea’s rich culture and history. Through the past six years in PAVA, I’ve learned more about my culture and myself than I would have ever thought possible. I was even able to go to a trip to Korea to lean about Korea’s great general Lee Soon Shin as well as see the famous revitalized river of Korea, Cheonggyecheon. Perhaps the most important experience I had culture wise was the opportunity to march the Hollywood Christmas Parade while wearing Korean Traditional costume and performing different traditional dances and instrument for the crowd. My biggest achievement and treasured memory would have to be that time that we marched the Rose Parade, proudly proclaiming the Korean Culture to the World.

Other opportunities I recall fondly is the CERT training programs and Creek Week with Heal the Bay through PAVA. I also remember the opportunity I got when I was invited to speak in front of many politicians to talk about what Civil Engagement meant to me. It was an awe-aspiring opportunity, one where I got to forge connections with many great men and women who put forth their time and effort to create a better community for us to live in. It is these opportunities that made me see and learn from these people who worked selflessly with a large goal in mind.

I am confident to say that each experience for each member is different in PAVA. However, it cannot be denied the impact that the organization makes in our life and the benefits we have gained from it, whether it be inspiration, knowledge, or even certificates and awards of recognition. These gifts that I have received from my many years of service is what I believe will endeavor me to succeed to the best of my ability in the future.

To those that are interested in PAVA, I urge you to sign up and become a member so that you could experience the things that I did and gain as much, if not more. I sincerely hope to see you in the future, as fellow members of PAVA.

Written by: Jihyun Park