To Inspire. To Be Inspired. – 30 Stories on HKUST Faculty, Alumni and Students

HKUST alumnus Kyu Tae Kim's desire to make a difference and help others has seen him provide aid and contribute to peace in countries affected by some of the world’s most complex conflicts and natural disasters. Since 2013, the conflict in South Sudan has led to millions of people being displaced. With limited access to water, essential health services, farms, and markets, the people of the region desperately need humanitarian assistance. This is where Kyu Tae Kim, at the time a UN Peacekeeper with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), found himself, in a town called Akobo in 2019, when he was taking a gap year from HKUST. UN Peacekeepers are tasked with many responsibilities. They are dedicated to protecting civilians, actively preventing conflicts, reducing violence, strengthening security, and empowering national authorities to also assume these responsibilities. Kyu Tae thought of his role as a privilege and could see a future in the humanitarian field. It was during the UNMISS that he saw airplanes 37 displaying the Red Cross emblem near the compound where he was staying. Kyu Tae was captivated by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) workers as they rushed in and out, transporting wounded civilians, caught up in the conflict between the government and rebel forces, to nearby health facilities. Kyu Tae, seeing the purpose and devotion of the ICRC workers, realized he was witnessing incredibly important work. Back in Hong Kong, where he was studying a Bachelor of Science in Biotechnology at HKUST, Kyu Tae couldn’t shake what he had experienced in South Sudan. He wondered if and how he could build a career in the humanitarian sector. But luckily for Kyu Tae, his destiny presented itself in the form of a unique traineeship. In 2018, HKUST and ICRC established a partnership to offer HKUST students an international traineeship opportunity at the ICRC headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. It involved working full-time for one year at the headquarters through the HKUST Connect Student Civic Fellowship Program. Kyu Tae applied, and when he received the acceptance email, he knew his dream was coming to fruition.