Robert Frost once said, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference.” The same applies to Euyhun Yi (’94, Media and Communication), the chairman of the social venture company Join Us to Maximize our Potential (JUMP). After graduation, Yi decided to take the road less traveled and started a social enterprise. The young entrepreneur’s journey has yet to begin.
GT: As the current chairman of JUMP, could you tell us about your company?
Yi: JUMP can be known as a modern-day night school. It is an educational service group which attempts to connect underprivileged teenagers with janghakssaems, university students who wish to provide educational volunteering service.
GT: What is the difference between JUMP and other educational volunteer organizations?
Yi: What makes our company stand out from other educational service groups is that we also connect the janghakssaems with mentors from diverse professions who manage to give the janghakssaems valuable advice. The sustainability of the program is a prominent feature of JUMP. Existing education volunteer programs lack the continuous participation of tutors, which causes confusion and discouragement in the tutees. It is because the programs are based on the participants’ sacrifices and they get nothing in return other than a line in their resume. When it comes to teaching, personal interaction is essential, since short-term relationship between the student and the teacher degrades the quality of education immensely. So JUMP devised a solution to this problem by mandating the period of time required to participate as a janghakssaem and also providing them with benefits like scholarships and connections with adult mentors. This creates a virtuous cycle that serves as a long-term solution.
▲ Euyhun Yi, chairman of JUMP. Photographed by Maeng Jun Ho.
GT: It seems like JUMP is playing a huge role in decreasing the gap of education. What are other ways that the education gap can be settled and how serious is this problem?
Yi: There is research showing that a child’s academic achievement is largely influenced by their parents’ socioeconomic status. We can easily experience this gap in real life too. JUMP attempts to help solve this vertical problem of the education gap. There is also a horizontal problem in education that relates to the quality and democracy of education. There are many situations where students are just blatantly receiving information from the teacher, being a passive learner. Projects like the Future Classroom Network, which provides an online platform of classes and discussion sessions can be a solution to this problem.
GT: How can Korea University (KU) students become a member of JUMP and teach students?
Yi: KU students can apply for KU-Seongbuk JUMP School as janghakssaems in January. There are also nationwide JUMP schools like H-JUMP School.
GT: Do you have any special management plans for JUMP?
Yi: We would like to further expand our business to more isolated regions in Korea and also spread this program worldwide. In the short term, we are hoping to win the Google Impact Challenge, which provides funding for social ventures like us.
GT: Moving on to some personal questions, do you have any campus story that you would like to share with your juniors at KU?
Yi: The people. I spent a lot of time socializing with friends, seniors and juniors in my university life. The people you meet and the conversations you share on campus as an undergraduate can be a great seed of development in becoming a thoughtful individual. There are no strings attached in these relationships at this age, which is very special. I was also the captain of the baseball team for my major. I had a good time.
▲ Logo of JUMP. Provided by jumpsp.org.
GT: After graduation, you worked as a journalist in America and worked for Survey Monkey. What made you change your career?
Yi: When I was working as a journalist in America, I witnessed the minorities of our society. The immigrants, laborers, and refugees all had their stories. I became interested in the protection of their rights. As a journalist, I lived life as an observer of these imminent problems, and as I was attending Harvard Kennedy School, I decided that I wanted to live a life actively participating and actually solving the problems. I thought that the quintessential part of protecting the rights of social minorities is education. That is how I came up with the idea of JUMP and changed my occupation.
GT: Starting a new business takes a lot of courage. How did you gather your courage to jump into this risky field? What was the most difficult thing during the process of starting a business?
Yi: I gained a lot of help from people who shared my idea and vision. I think this helped me push through and pursue the journey. Putting people first and cherishing every encounter with a positive perspective is the most important thing. The obstacles that I met were economic problems and people’s perception of social enterprise in Korea. I overcame the economic problem with funds from corporations like the Hyundai Motor Company and connections with local government and universities. The perception is also getting better and many are now aware of the social enterprise industry.
GT: It seems like you have paved an innovative path through your career. What advice would you give to your juniors in KU who are searching for their own dream job?
Yi: There are three things that I would recommend to do as much as possible in college life. These are common things that the mentors of JUMP schools also agree with. The first is being in a relationship. By falling in love, you get to pay immense attention to another individual, other than yourself. This greatly improves your ability to understand humanity and you can become sensitive to the world around you. The relationships in which you get dumped are the ones that you can learn from the most. (Smiles) The second is traveling. When you travel, travel alone and deepen your thoughts. Lastly, reading. It can be comic books or magazines, as long as it is something that you wish to read. I hope these tips are helpful. Good luck to you all.