Fifteen Things You Should Know About KAAN

542338_413940061977711_527460547_nIn honor of our fifteenth anniversary, here are some things you should know about KAAN …

1. We believe in the worth of every individual. Everyone has something to give and something to learn. We are a meeting place for different perspectives so that both individuals and the community can grow. Respectful debate is expected.

2. Being a meeting place sometimes means holding back a little. Our desire to be a gathering place of different perspectives means our organization does not take positions on many issues. Our nonprofit status restricts us from political advocacy as well. The people who participate in KAAN are far from lukewarm, however.

3. Adoptees are our focus. Our mission is to improve the lives of adoptees. There are more leaders, presenters, and attendees who are adoptees than any other demographic. We listen to what they say.

4. We also respect boundaries. Adult adoptees, however credentialed and caring, are not present at the conference to serve as personal encyclopedias for other attendees. Adoptee-only sessions are a regular part of our programming for those who desire them.

5. We believe in the need for allies. Family members and friends of adoptees can and should be effective voices in the community. KAAN gives them a chance to partner with and support those they love.

6. We welcome those outside the Korean adoption community. Conversations of race, privilege, family, and relationships have relevance to many. Our conference and community is well-established and can be a resource to others. We also benefit from listening to those outside our regular circles.

7. KAAN is for all ages. Most who attend are adults. However, we have a strong, adoptee-mentored youth program for ages 7-17 and a growing childcare program as well. Some adult adoptees encourage their parents to attend. Some parents of adult adoptees attend even if their grown children do not.

8. Our volunteers provide professional-level programs and services. Our skilled staff donate their time alongside everyone else. Several work year-round, one nearly full-time. While we are fortunate to have these individuals, replacing them will be hard without a salary. We plan, long-term, to create paid staff positions in order to ensure the viability of KAAN.

9. We are committed to keeping the conference affordable. Higher airline tickets and other economic hardships have made attendance challenging, especially for families with multiple attendees. Organization costs have gone up as well. Despite that, we have raised our rates only once. Comparable conferences charge considerably higher fees. We charge $100-150 less than what it actually costs per person. Those who register at the early bird rate save even more. We also provide scholarships.

10. Donations are necessary if we are to maintain #9. The money needs to come from somewhere. We are new to active fundraising but are devoting energies there. Support our efforts.

11. We are grassroots. While our volunteer nature makes us vulnerable in some ways, we are highly adaptable in others. Fresh topics, research, and publications are easily incorporated into our conferences. We can work volunteers with new ideas, and the commitment to realize those ideas, rather easily into our structure. All kinds of new partnerships, leaders, and organizations are born through this model.

12. We are family. Go ahead, sing it. You know you want to.

13. We are not an umbrella organization. We have no chapters; we do not collect dues. We do not aim to represent the entire Korean adoptee community. Our role is to serve as a meeting place. Other groups serve other purposes.

14 We help local communities as well as support a national one. Each conference host community experiences growth of some kind through the presence of a national conference.

15. WE NEED YOU. If you’ve made it this far in the list, you’ve seen how vital attendees, donors, volunteers, and leaders are to our organization. The character and direction of KAAN has directly been shaped over the years by those who voice their ideas and concerns and who take the time to follow through on what was shared. What will KAAN look like in another fifteen years?

Get involved and be a part of the answer.

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