I.K. Kim, winner of the 2010 Lorena Ochoa Invitational, visited Guadalajara, Mexico on Wednesday, April 13th to see the effect her donation has had on La Barranca, the school funded by the Lorena Ochoa Foundation. Following her victory in November, Kim pledged half her winnings to Ochoa’s Foundation and half to an American charity to-be-named. Kim toured La Barranca with Ochoa, meeting the children and teaching them Korean. She was surprised to learn that the school had dedicated a classroom in her name as a sign of gratitude for her gracious gift.
MIKE SCANLAN: With us today we'd like to welcome I.K. Kim, who's a three-time winner on the LPGA Tour. Her most recent victory came at the 2010 Lorena Ochoa Invitational, and she has returned today to Guadalajara, home of the invitational, for a very special day. As many of you know, I.K. donated her winner's check to charity after she won the Lorena Ochoa, and half of that money went to the Lorena Ochoa Foundation. I.K., if you would just give us your thoughts on your day in Guadalajara today.
I.K. KIM: Hello, everyone. I'm here in Guadalajara visiting Lorena's foundation school, and it was great meeting with the kids. I know, I wasn't sure what I was going to see, or I didn't expect anything. It was truly amazing what Lorena's foundation does with the kids, and I could really see in the kids' eyes how happy they are. So it was very touching, yeah, and a great day.
Q. I.K., if you would just talk about the very special dedication that Lorena and the kids made to you of one of their classrooms.
I.K. KIM: Oh, my God, I was speechless. I didn't really expect a lot of things that happened today, and I was really humbled at what Lorena with the kids and everything, you know, the staff at the foundation. Truly amazing because those kids are the future in Mexico, and not just for the kids but for the whole family, the communities are doing so much better now because of the school and everything. I'm very excited for that. And also, you know, I was speechless.
Q. You made the announcement that you were going to donate the money the Sunday after you won, and now it's almost five months later. Does it feel more real now that you're in Guadalajara and that you've met the children of La Barranca? Does it feel more real, the charity work that you're doing?
I.K. KIM: I think definitely, because even though I met the kids last year, I just wanted to share some of my earnings from the tournament, and coming here and looking at all the kids, yeah, that really made me humble and overwhelming, and I really want to continue to help those kids. It was truly amazing what Lorena has done for all the kids out there. She's really a great role model for all the kids. You know, I'm very happy for the kids.
Q. Did Lorena say anything to you specifically, any thanks for what you've done?
I.K. KIM: Yeah, I mean, it was really nice to see Lorena again, and she explained to me what's going on with her foundation, and they're building the new schools on -- they're working on the construction and the classroom and everything, you know. So they're doing a lot of things, working on the school. Yeah, it was really nice to see that. It was a great experience for me.
Q. And I heard you also got a very special gift from Lorena. Can you tell us about it?
I.K. KIM: Oh, my God, you would not believe it. I got a Gibson guitar. I mean, it was okay that the guitar wasn't tuned right (so I didn’t have to) play it, but it was so cool. I didn't expect any of it, and it just made my day.
Q. I just have one question. Have you decided where the other half of your winner's check from the Ochoa Invitational will be donated to?
I.K. KIM: I've been thinking about it a lot, not just myself but with my family, and I've decided to have my own foundation hopefully soon where -- it's been a good process, and I'd like to start using those monies starting my foundation and continuing to help the kids.
Q. You've taken part in other charity donations that have affected many people. You did the Birdie charity for the Hana Bank Championship and the Hana Financial Group golf team. Does your charity work give you motivation for your game?
I.K. KIM: I think definitely -- I mean, winning the tournament just personally, you know, is great to me. But I think it just gives me right purpose on why I wanted to play golf and play well, and it's not just my own happiness, but I can share with others, and I think that's what makes the sport so great, that with the money or the fame that I get, I can help so many -- not a lot of people, but I can help others, you know. So yeah, that's what excites me most times, and that's why I want to play well in the golf tournaments.
Q. Do you have any plans for any future charity donations, or are you just going to focus on playing good golf right now?
I.K. KIM: I'd really like to continue working with the kids with Lorena's foundation, and I (also work) with the Hana Bank, the Birdies, going to the Microsoft banks (to help underprivileged people start small businesses) and that's really great. Yeah, I'm open to anything, and I just wanted to -- I need to take more time to just be ready for my own foundation, as well, so it's good.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about how the day went, the classrooms you visited or some of the things the kids did while you were there?
I.K. KIM: Well, I went there, and actually at the school they actually provided breakfast for the kids in the morning before they start class because a lot of people, they're not able to have breakfast before coming to school and things like that, so I thought that was really thoughtful of them, the school. And I saw them singing and dancing, interacting, not just studying in the classroom, but they're doing a lot of outdoor stuff, and I thought it was really good for the kids.
Yeah, so my day was great, and it's really nice to see the kids in a real -- not just helping them, but it kind of meant more -- how do you say it? I can feel it today. It was really amazing.
Q. Did Lorena talk to you at all about some of her future plans for the foundation and perhaps how you can stay involved?
I.K. KIM: Actually Lorena is very excited that they're building a soccer field just for the school. I think there's other sponsors, they're helping with those things. You know, and I was surprised that there's a lot of things they need for the kids, not just -- you know, they need a lot of support, you know, from other people, as well. Yeah, I'm glad to be part of it, so I hope everything gets better and better, so I'm very excited for the kids.
Q. After the first two events of this year how are you feeling about your play right now? Obviously you're No. 7 in the Rolex Rankings but fifth in the Money List, so clearly you've had a good start to the season. How are you feeling overall about the LPGA and what you're doing personally?
I.K. KIM: Well, first of all, I'm very happy with how I started the season. I had a great off-season in Korea, and I went back to train in San Diego. You know, it's great to start off well, you know, because there's a lot of great opportunities for me in the summer, and it's always nice to play well in a tournament. I think all the hard work really pays off now, so I'm very excited.
Q. Now that you have a new guitar, what kind of music are you going to play on it?
I.K. KIM: You know, I was kind of going more electric, more rock music, and now I guess I've got to start learning some Spanish songs for the kids one day, you know, so I'll have to learn to play acoustic, and it's a really nice one. It's a keeper.
Q. Your donation to Lorena's charity, the La Barranca Educational Center, is most impressive and commendable, but your commitment to education I know you're also pursuing personally in your own life, and in particular I'm thinking about your work with the Language Training Center through the LPGA. Could you talk about some of the things you're working on with the LTC?
I.K. KIM: You're asking about LTC?
Q. Yeah, the Language Training Center. It sounds like you're pursuing education on your own through them.
I.K. KIM: Yeah, I like to improve in my English all the time because I'm around -- I live in the U.S. and I've been trying hard to study English, but since I turned pro and am traveling all the time, I didn't get to study as much as I wanted. And it's such a great idea that they're coming to national events, and also I can do it on Skype, on-line, so it helps me a lot with speaking the language, but also I've been trying to improve my vocabulary and also grammar. I think especially for me I need to continue to study.
Q. Your command of English is very good. Has it always been that way? Did you take it when you were in elementary school, primary school?
I.K. KIM: Actually I had a chance to do -- I had a class when I was in elementary school and middle school, but I never got to speak to anyone, you know? I never used it, had a chance to use it before I came to the U.S., and it was very tough. But you know, I was fortunate to go to the right school at the right time, and yeah, it helped me a lot just communicate, whether with friends, just in regular life. I think it's just as important as playing good golf and do things in life.
Q. And the Language Training Center, they actually set things up on-site at the events; I mean, you're able to do things when you're traveling, right?
I.K. KIM: Right, yeah. Yeah, that really helps. You know, it's really hard to have time off for studying English, and LTC is always right there, so even though whenever I have a question I can just ask them what does that mean, and sometimes I misunderstand the meaning, or a lot of things just -- they're just there to help.
Q. On how I.K. Kim’s visit to La Barranca went.
LORENA OCHOA: It’s been a great day. Every time someone visits La Barranca, especially someone like I.K., it’s wonderful. We went this morning and sat down in one of the rooms and explained the history of the school and the system that we have. We told her about the way we teach kids with the community involved. We gave her some feedback on how her money is being spent. We went inside some of the classrooms and some of the kids talked to her and tried to joke with her. She helped the kids learn some Korean words and numbers. The kids were trying their best and she was interacting with them. They took her outside to the patio to show her some music and some dances that they do everyday.
Q. On how she felt having I.K. return to Guadalajara.
LORENA OCHOA: More than anything, we knew that when she made the donation, it was a great surprise to us, but we knew how good her heart is and how much she wanted to help. It was special to show her in real life. I think she was really happy. I will always be very thankful to her.
Q. On how she thought I.K. felt about the trip.
LORENA OCHOA: I could see that I.K. was very emotional. We put her name on one of the classrooms, one of my favorite classrooms with the most beautiful view. There’s a nice plaque with her name that says thanks to her for the help in English, Spanish and Korean. She was very emotional there. She joked a little bit about it. In her head, she had a view of La Barranca, but in real life it was more than she imagined. That classroom belongs to her.
Q. On where I.K.’s donation monies are being used.
LORENA OCHOA: We are using her money to buy equipment; tables, chairs for the classrooms. We’re also using it for laboratories. We also use it to buy food for the kids. The help from her has been so big. We’ve been running tight with the foundation, the construction and all our activities. God always finds a way to help us and motivate us. Her money came at a perfect time. It was a great donation that helped us so much.