Higher Consciousness

Lee ’16 tutored migrant farmworkers while studying at ILR
Monday, June 6, 2016

From South Korea to back road farms in New York state’s Southern Tier, Hye Ri “Anna” Lee ’16 has been using Korean, Spanish and English to build bridges of understanding.

As an elementary school student, she became a cellist and perfected her English at summer camp, where she adopted the name Anna.

At age 14, she left South Korea for Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Conn. She volunteered to play the cello at a senior center and discovered her compassion for the elderly and her interest in working with people and organizing events.

Lee became ill and returned to South Korea, where her newfound vulnerability increased her empathy for others.

While recovering in Seoul, she served as an interpreter for an uninsured factory worker with a head injury. For Lee, the experience clarified the importance of labor rights and corporate social responsibility. She saw her future in human resources in the health care industry and applied to ILR.

During a trip to Spain, she hiked with her father and enjoyed interacting with the Spanish-speaking
citizens, which led Lee to add a college minor in Spanish. At Cornell, she joined Friends of Farmworkers.

For several years, Lee traveled to farms in the Finger Lakes Region weekly in order to tutor migrant workers in English. She also delivered on-farm workshops covering safety and emergency planning.

An internship at Corning Inc., where a number of ILR alums are in HR leadership positions, honed Lee’s work experience across human resource functions.

Lee graduates from ILR with an academic background and a discipline that defies boundaries of language, culture and geography.