Meet Isabelle Shim
It is with great excitement that we introduce this month’s Agape Letter writer, Isabelle (Izzy) Shim. As a high school teacher, Dr. Mays is blessed to meet outstanding young people every school year. Last year he had the opportunity to teach Izzy in his US history class. He quickly recognized her as a high character student, who is on the glide path to success in whatever she puts her mind to.
Izzy is a published poet as a part of the George Jenkins High School literati program. We are blessed to have this forward thinking, hard working young leader share her gift with the Agape Leaders ministry.
Thank you, Izzy, we appreciate you.
My compass has always had the needle facing the pursuit of perfection; my destination to be greater than those who came before me. When you grow up in an immigrant family, there is no room for mediocrity; for that is dereliction in the eyes of those who have endured hardships to bestow on you the privilege of taking such opportunity for granted. Nonetheless, I allowed my grades to temporarily falter one year and spent my days with perpetually rolled eyes as my father told me the same cautionary tales I have heard since the cradle. Each time the lesson leads to the same word: Lucky.
My apathy eventually evolved to epiphany and finally into a steely grasp of how lucky I truly was. My parents grew up poor and both were first generation college graduates. My father grew up in Jamaica in a family of six and emigrated to the United States to escape an island threatening violence and potential communism. His family struggled to make ends meet, desperately trying to break language and color barriers. The young immigrant family had an emphasis on education but not the knowledge to foster it. Yet he still found his way to the University of South Florida campus; paying his way to a degree in Finance and a dream job in investment management by the age of 25. My mother grew up in California to teenage parents whose young faces earned premature forehead creases trying to keep a roof over their heads. She worked multiple jobs to earn tuition money for Florida State University, where she received Bachelors and Masters degrees in psychology. She is now an elementary school guidance counselor, where she is a bedrock to both students and faculty.
The experiences of my parents shaped me to be a person who empathizes and understands those around me. It is the foundation of how I interact with my peers. I often view events around the world in a different light through the varying lenses family members deeply and personally influenced. When protests began rising up this past summer, I saw the effects in their eyes and through stories of mistreatment or disadvantage because of the color of their skin. My father’s stories of third world poverty and my mother’s own American version of first world perseverance have driven me to volunteer my time tutoring students who are struggling through the lack of an educational role model at home, but also proper nutrition. Living in a home with parents and extended family who have earned every luxury, including citizenship, allows me to view my fellow humans as opportunities for further understanding rather than reasons to judge.
Do an internet search and you will find several definitions for the word “Agape.” According to one site, Agape is a Greco-Christian term referring to love, "the highest form of love, charity" and "the love of God for man and of man for God". This is the definition that we use at Agape Leaders for the way we mean agape. In our lives, many of us long to receive a “love letter” from that special someone. You are our special someone, therefore we are sending you our “Agape Letter,” our love letter to you.