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Meet James Kang: Our new REI Director for Vietnam

James Kang and his wife Janet. James is our new Vietnam Director!

Resource Exchange International is pleased to announce that James Kang, longtime friend and volunteer, has agreed to become the Director of our work in Vietnam! James first joined our work in Vietnam as a volunteer presenter with our Business Team in 2008, and has made 20 trips into the country since that time, so he knows well what blessings and challenges lie before him.

Why this transition of leadership? REI’s Leadership Team has felt for some time that our work is better led if our country directors live in-country. Vietnam has been the exception to the rule, largely because coordinating our many short-term teams is difficult to do without living in the US. But with Tim Moore coming on board in Colorado Springs to assume responsibility for that task, our country director is freed up to move to Hanoi.

There are seasons of life when an international move makes sense, and there are seasons when such a move is difficult. Craig Slater, James’ predecessor, felt that although he and his wife Kris love Vietnam, it was not in the best interests of his family to make such a move at this time. And so Craig made the difficult decision to step out of the directorship role.

Enter James. James has been involved in the NGO world since 1988, and much of his service has taken place in Southeast Asia. He has not only served in Vietnam, but in the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, and Singapore, as well as in the US. Being Korean-American, he understands well the cultural nuances of the region. In fact, he led the Asian-American Network for his former NGO, and in Vietnam often presented on “Cultural Communication” and “East-West Differences” to our university partners. He is well suited for this role and ready to make the move, once the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

James married his wife, Janet, in 1988, and together the two have raised one son, Elliot, now in his late 20’s. They currently live in the Chicago area, where Janet works with the IT department at Northwestern University. At this point Janet is not free to work remotely, so James plans to establish the rhythm of alternatively living in Hanoi for three months and Chicago for one month. Janet will travel to Hanoi to be with James on her vacations, and is supportive of him taking on this new responsibility, despite the constraints of being apart for a good part of the year.

“I love Vietnam,” James says. “Our work there has a large number of moving parts, and the country itself is quite nuanced. My hope is to bring all the parts of our work together, and work in alignment as much as possible. And as we do that, we will make an incredible impact.”

Thank you, James, thank you Janet, for your willingness to take on a challenging task. We are eager to see how the future unfolds, as you invest your lives in building people to build nations!

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