Happy July! We’re back with our K-pop community spotlight, and this month we will be featuring two student organizations: Konnect and KKAP.

     Konnect and KKAP are both K-pop student organizations at UC Irvine (UCI). Konnect is a cultural appreciation and social club dedicated to "konnecting" the community to Korean culture, and KKAP, which stands for Konnect K-POP Aspiring Performers, is a dance team comprised of a diverse group of members of varying levels of dance experience, who share a mutual love for K-pop. Aewen Radio recently had the opportunity to interview some of the club leaders and members, and hear about their experiences in Konnect and KKAP!

Aewen Radio: What would you like your club to be known for?
     Destiny Estacio, KKAP Coordinator 20’ - 21’: I would like KKAP to be known as a dance team that can put out clean performances and covers.

     Nicole Darvin, Konnect Vice President of External Affairs 20’ - 21’: I would love for Konnect to be known as a safe space where anyone can feel free to come out and learn a bit more about Korean culture regardless of their background. The club provides an amazing atmosphere that fosters friendships and personal growth, and I hope this can grow even further in the future.

Aewen Radio: What attracted you to join the club?
     Ashley Yabumoto, General Member: I remember it very vividly. I had just been starting to get into K-Pop and it was at UCI’s Anteater Involvement Fair. I decided to watch KKAP’s performance and I was immediately mesmerized. I especially remember one member’s stage presence. I was just so impressed and I thought “Wow! I want to do that too!” During that same performance, they were throwing mini stuffed animals as part of the choreography, and one of the stuffed animals actually smacked me right in the head. Meant to be maybe.

Aewen Radio: What motivates you as a coordinator / board executive?
     Destiny Estacio, KKAP Coordinator 20’ - 21’: What motivates me as coordinator for KKAP is just being able to lead the team and provide for the team. I like putting in the hard work so that the members can enjoy and have fun on the team.

     Nicole Darvin, Konnect Vice President of External Affairs 20’ - 21’: As part of board, what motivated me the most was being able to see the fruits of my labor. It was always great to hear from general members how the club had positively impacted them and how it became a safe space where they can have fun and make friends.

Aewen Radio: How has the club impacted you?
     Laurenz Gamurot, General Member: I have made some friends along the way which helped me deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

     Ashley Yabumoto, General Member: I think the club and dance team have played a huge role in how I see myself. I always thought a lot of things, especially talent, were either you have it or you don’t. I always thought I didn’t and I wanted to find something I was good at and both Konnect and KKAP have taught me that that wasn’t so and that there was talent in growth. I may not be super amazing at dancing, but I work hard and I’ve grown and improved and that is something I am very proud of.

Aewen Radio: As Konnect and KKAP have created inclusive and encouraging communities for people interested in dance, K-pop, and Korean culture, can you share any highlights or accomplishments of Konnect / KKAP?
     Destiny Estacio, KKAP Coordinator 20’ - 21’: Last school year we had celebrated our 10k Subscriber special, and just this year we celebrated KKAP’s 10 year anniversary with a special performance.

     Nicole Darvin, Konnect Vice President of External Affairs 20’ - 21’: I find it amazing that Konnect was able to consistently host meetings during a completely virtual year. Many other clubs were unable to operate, but our passion helped us push through and do some great things throughout the year.

Aewen Radio: What does Konnect / KKAP mean to you?
     Laurenz Gamurot, General Member: The club feels more like a family than a formal meetup of people due to the bonds made. Everyone is good to everyone and we can talk about and can relate to almost everything.

     Ashley Yabumoto, General Member: A circle of friends and family! I’ve met some great people through these clubs and I’ve been able to grow as a person thanks to them!

     Destiny Estacio, KKAP Coordinator 20’ - 21’: KKAP to me means a team full of crazy individuals who help build and help each other out. We strive to give our best performances to our audience.

     Nicole Darvin, Konnect Vice President of External Affairs 20’ - 21’: Konnect is my home. I came into college shy and reserved, but when I went to Konnect, I really felt like I was able to discover myself and make lifelong connections. Without Konnect, I wouldn't be the same person that I am today.

     A huge thank you to Konnect and KKAP for taking the time to share their experiences with Aewen Radio. Be sure to check out their social media to “konnect” and learn more about them!