"Every experience holds within a blessing of some kind"

Paul Kim is currently a rising junior at Oberlin College and Conservatory.  He has been playing the violin since the age of 3. He has won numerous competitions: The Korea Time competition, US open music competition, El Camino Youth Symphony Concerto Competition, Tuesday Musical, and Twentieth Annual Music Competition winner of Bay Area Music Association. During his High school years, he volunteered at Hop3 Box, which is an organization that gives out a benefit concert and raises money towards a good cause. 2010-2011, Paul has participated on the Bon Voyage tour to France and Spain with El Camino Youth Symphony.  Paul loves to play chamber music and is hoping to get somewhere through chamber music. During the month of January of 2016, Paul has also participated in the 150th anniversary of the Oberlin Conservatory Tour to Chicago. This summer, Paul will be attending the Litomysl International Music camp, which is located in Czech Republic. Recently, Paul performed at an event titled "Connecting Culture through Music "organised by the American Center, Kolkata.

You started playing Violin at the age of 3. What or who gave you the desire to play the violin?

I started to play the violin because the son of my father’s friend actually inspired me to play. He played a mini concert at his house and I really wanted to play. He was the person who got me started to play the violin. I actually don’t remember his name.

Did you always know that you wanted to follow a career path in music? 

I wanted to pursue music during freshman year of high school. Before then, I did it for fun and to give my mind some peace when I’m stressed with school. After freshman year, I started to focus more on music because my passion for music was growing tremendously.

Do you remember your first appearance on a stage?What is it about performing that you enjoy?

My first appearance on stage was one of the most terrifying experiences that led to the most memorable experience. My stage anxiety was very bad when I started out playing the violin. This was when I was 12 years old. I played with my former teacher’s orchestra. That was the first time I have ever played with a real orchestra. What made it the worst to the best was the passion that grew inside of me. The music took over me and I started to play with my heart. The memorization and the technically of the music didn’t matter anymore. What mattered was to play the piece to the best of my ability and show the audience what my interpretation of the piece is. I still remember it to this day.

You have received many awards and performed at various places, what would you say have been your favourite experiences so far?

All of the experiences from competitions and performances were stepping stones towards a bigger goal. Every experience holds within a blessing of some kind. I can’t say which one is my favorite. I think all of them hold a special place in my heart.

If you could meet a composer, who would it be?

I would really want to meet J.S. Bach because his music is out of this world. The music is so simple but yet it holds such a deeper meaning to each masterpiece he wrote. It would give me a deeper understanding if he explained to me the deeper meaning of the pieces.

What advice would you give to young people who have aspirations as an artist?

Follow your dreams and never give up. I went through a lot of hardship trying to major in violin performance but the one thing I didn’t do is give up. I stuck with violin to the very end and now I am at a great conservatory in the United States. Never giving up is the key.

How do you see the role of music as a tool to improve cultural ties between two nations

As my uncle ( US Consul General in Kolkata) said in his speech at the American Center, “the US and India relationship could be one of the defining partnership of the 21st century.” Maybe this isn’t referring as much in music but I hope to make this partnership in music happen. My experience in Kolkata with the Kolkata Youth Orchestra changed my point of view. There are a lot of talented musicians that haven’t been given a chance to shine. I want that to happen and I hope in the very near future, I can get the tools and connections to make it possible. 


The Kiwis: Uncharted Adventures, Explorations and Discoveries

Jeff  and Maggie Vickers are a motorcyclist couple from New Zealand  who love to travel.They completed  54-day road trip of India, covering 10,000 kms!

What motivated you to make this trip?

We've done a bit of adventuring around the South Western states of America, as well as most of New Zealand.  We started sharing our travels with friends and Facebook groups and seemed to have gained a bit of a following.  This found us creating the Facebook page, "Kiwis Wandering", and then the blog.  We enjoy sharing our adventures, and hope that our travels will inspire others to get out there and see this fabulous planet!

We don't have any sponsorship. We do this purely to inspire other riders to achieve the same thing. We want to be an inspiration for other riders so that they might say, "If two Kiwis can go from New Zealand to the top of Khardung La, then I can do it as well."

When we started the trip we really didn't plan it.  We arrived in Kolkata and met a person on Facebook who was part of the group Royal Rider.  He helped us get bikes.  We expected to complete the ride in three months, but we ended up traveling for two months!

What kind of reception did you get from the people you met during your trip?

The reception has been great!  We met some generous people who helped us along the way.  When we were hot, frustrated, tired, and could not find accommodations, complete strangers would step up to help us.  We met so many people whom we now consider great friends.

What has been the most challenging experience while travelling?

When we were in traffic, with all the vehicles coming towards us, or attempting to cross in front of us, well it just drove us crazy!  That was probably our biggest struggle. Traffic was scary.  We have had some close calls.  We have been nudged and pushed off the roads.  Back home, our summer temperature is around 27-28 "C, occasionally going up to 30 "C. Here we have been biking 40"C.  It is like riding in a furnace. Our gear was not appropriate for this type of humidity. When most people go for a holiday, they go for maybe two or three weeks.  They know they eventually must return to work.  One of the biggest hurdles for us was to get out of that mindset.  When we left New Zealand, we had only a one-way ticket to India.  The constant moving was not a problem, but the packing and unpacking has been a bit of a grind. To avoid the heat, we have been waking up at 4:00 in the morning.  As a result, we found we were tiring easily after a few weeks of rising early.  Because of this, we now stop for longer periods of time.  The language barrier was was also an issue.  There have been times when we have been searching for accommodations where nobody knew more than a few words of English.   Also, we like basic, bland food.  The Indian cuisine has been a little troublesome to our stomachs.

What's been the major highlights for you in this trip?

The highlight of our trip has been going to the top of Khardung La to ride the highest motor-able road in the world- at a height of 18,380 feet/5,602 meters! We have completed what is called the Golden Quadrilateral, which we didn't even realize we were riding when we started out.  That was like a secondary bonus for us. Namaste Cafe and Lodge at Om Beach, near Gokarna Beach, was beautiful We were warned about not going to Srinagar (J&K) because of the militancy issue, but we went anyway.  We were glad we did, because it is an absolutely beautiful place!  The people were very friendly and we were glad we went, despite the warnings .We loved visiting the Dal Lake.  There was no road noise and no car horns honking.  Just peace. That's probably the thing we found most overwhelming.  The best part of the Dal Lake was getting in the boat and being out on the water.

You must have had a pre conceived idea about India. How different is it from New Zealand?

It is actually as I imagined it.  There are parts of India that are beautiful, magical.  There are other parts that are full of rubbish, hot and dirty.  There are places where I would not like to go back to, but I am glad that I have been there once to see them.  Then there are other places where I would return to everyday if I had the opportunity.   You can't possibly imagine the complete flip the environment has been compared to New Zealand.  New Zealand tourism promotes clean green.  Here we have seen seen clean green in signs, many towns saying clean green only, but nothing compared to New Zealand.  Our water is crystal clear, our lakes are cleaner.  There is no rubbish, no pollution, no trucks pumping out diesel fumes.  It will take a long time, but we do see people trying.

Which destinations are at the top of your bucket list?

We both have jobs waiting for us and we are pretty much on sabbatical at the moment. We no loner own anything.  We sold our home a number of years ago.  We don't have any possessions.  Everything we own is in our bags.  We have a couple of motorcycles, a van, and a few pieces of furniture in the van.  When we return, our plan is to work for 2 1/2 years and save money again.  We will be house-sitting, which means we live for free but stay at other people's homes and look after it while they are away.  That saves us a huge amount of money. The next big thing we are planning is 12 or possibly 18 months in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.


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