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HANA Center Celebrates Power in Community Diversity

Korean drums sounded across the dining hall as performers from Woori Sori, an all-women group of traditional Korean folk musicians, took the floor at the Hana Center’s annual gala to honor community strength and power through unity.

The Hana Center “MODU” Gala, which means “all” in Korean, celebrated its work providing immigrant populations with essential services, legal support, low-income housing and other assistance to help impact racial, economic and social justice. The Hana Center served an estimated 14,000 individuals last year.

Inhe Choi, Hana Center executive director, welcomed guests and expressed gratitude for the support, which allows the organization to continue its advocacy work.

UIC and the Hana Center share a growing mutual relationship. Inhe Choi serves on the UIC Asian Community Advisory Council, while the organization has hired UIC students to continue its social justice initiatives.

Two UIC students now work at HANA Center. Jessica Yim recently graduated and joined the Hana Center as a full-time worker. Malien Tingpalpong is a UIC undergraduate student who works part-time at the HANA Center. Both were students in Global Asian Studies.

During the event, the organization honored the Korean American Sanctuary Church Network and the Grand Victoria Foundation with its “Committed to Justice” awards.

Founded in 2017, the Hana Center is a merger of two key organizations, which includes the Korean American Community Services and the Korean American Resource and Cultural Center. HANA, which means “one” in Korean, has the goal of supporting each community member as a whole person.

For more information about the HANA Center and its services, please visit:

  1. Roaring Drums: Members of Woori Sori, an all-women traditional Korean folk music group, entertain the audience at the Hana Center’s MODU Gala. (Photo courtesy of the Hana Center)
  2. New HANA Center Staff Member: Jessica Yim, a recent UIC graduate who majored in English with a minor in Global Asian Studies, begins her career at the HANA Center. (Photo courtesy of the Hana Center)
  3. On the job: Malien Tingpalpong, a UIC undergraduate student who is a double major in Global Asian Studies and Communications, works part-time at the HANA Center. (Photo courtesy of the Hana Center)
  4. UIC at the Gala: (L-R): Viraj Patel, director, Asian American Student Academic Program; Haeyoon Chung, PhD student, Educational Psychology-Human Development and Learning Program; Jessica Yim, recent UIC graduate and Hana Center Staff Member; Malien Tingpalpong, UIC undergraduate student and HANA Center part-time staff member; Karen Su, project director of the UIC AANAPISI Initiative and faculty in Global Asian Studies; and Miguel Alba, senior director, UIC Community Relations. (Photo courtesy of Hana Center)