You could say that Graci Kim has grown up with the Asia New Zealand Foundation.
In 2005, Graci was a recipient of the David Holborow Memorial Scholarship, a tertiary study award for Korean New Zealanders administered by the Foundation. To Graci, it was more than the financial support.
“I felt so seen, knowing there was an organisation and a scholarship dedicated to recognising people like me. Growing up in New Zealand, my family and I faced a lot of racism and discrimination for being different. The fact that such a scholarship existed was validating.”
It was the beginning of her “long-standing love affair” with the Foundation, and she joined its Leadership Network soon after.
Since then, Graci has built a career as a diplomat, including postings in Taipei and Beijing; run her own bespoke soft-toy company; started an online cooking show; and has started writing young adult fiction.
“The Foundation itself has been like a home base for me over the years, always keeping me connected to New Zealand and the Network members with whom I feel such camaraderie.
“In fact, no matter where I go in New Zealand or Asia, there is pretty much always a Network member I can connect with, and that itself is an amazing feat. Through the Foundation over the years, I have met lifelong friends, business partners, and mentors; and that to me, is priceless.”
Her achievements are undoubtedly her own, but Graci has often had inspiration and support from the Foundation. A Leadership Network hui that gave her the idea for her online cooking show, Graci in the Kitchen; and when she started her toy company, it was Foundation connections that helped make her ideas a reality.
She is currently working on her debut novel (to be published in 2021) about Korean witches and magic that explores what it truly means to belong.
“The book is inspired by my commitment to represent diverse identities in the books our youth are reading (something I severely lacked growing up), and there is no doubt that the Foundation has been a key part in helping me discover my sense of belonging to New Zealand and the wider world around us.”