Uenny Kim has been surprised by many things since arriving in the U.S. for the first time ever last month, not the least of which has been the generosity of those around her at Central Pantry.

“This is a meaningful place with kind people,” she said. “Very respectful.”

Kim, who is from South Korea, is working at Central Pantry as part of an exchange program through the University of Missouri’s Asian Affairs Center. The idea is to provide participants the opportunity to test their English language skills in an immersive environment.

Kim is not the only one to benefit from the experience. Central Pantry clients have also enjoyed meeting someone from another country, said Sean Ross, pantry manager.

“It’s cool for clients to meet and have conversations with her,” he said. “The whole point is communication, so I’ve been encouraging her to interact with clients. She has only heard English spoken by other Asians, so it’s good for her to hear different dialects.”

Kim says she understands about 60% of what is being said around her, but added that her English has improved in the past few weeks.

This is the second year Central Pantry has participated in the exchange program.