Posted on July 31, 2008
On July 30, 2008, the Korean American Voters’ Council and Serivce & Education for Korean Americans summer interns (8 from New York, 13 from New Jersey) participated in a special field trip which was organized in conjunction with the offices of Congressman Gary L. Ackerman and Congressman Scott Garrett to our nation’s capitol.
After an early morning bus ride of four hours, the interns arrived bright and early in front of the Capitol Building, ready for a full day of tours, meetings with Congressional members, and even a visit to the KORUS house.
First of on the trip’s itinerary was a meeting with Congressman Gary Ackerman who presides over District 5, which covers most of the Bayside / Great Neck area. The interns had a special opportunity to discuss local and international issues with the Congressman, which included the recent dispute over the island “Dokdo” off the Southeastern coast of Korea and local budgeting for the community. Congressman Ackerman stated that he needed to do more research on this issue before giving a definitive statement, but added that the local community could work with local media and write to the Library of Congress to get the issue out of just the community and into the national spotlight. After the Q&A session, Congressman Ackerman took some pictures with the interns.
Second on the itinerary was a quick trip to the local KORUS house, which is a facility connected to the Korean Embassy dedicated to promoting the beauty and culture of Korea to the United States. The interns were invited for a special presentation of cultural and educational videos, followed by a traditional Korean lunch, complete with many of the classic foods, such as kimchi, kimbab, bulgogi, and ddukboki.
Next on the list was the special guided tour of the inner sanctums of Congress, Capitol Hill, and the various nearby monuments. This tour was specially sanctioned by Congressman Scott Garrett and thus the interns were allowed to bypass much of the hustle and bustle between buildings, and were able to get front row seats in the House Gallery. In the House Gallery, the interns were lucky enough to see the end of a small debate for a resolution and the vote which followed after. With the institution of C-Span within the Congressional offices, Congressmember need only to come in to vote using the new identification card electronic vote system to cast their vote and go back to their work in their offices.
The rest of the tour consisted of sight seeing and visiting many of the older buildings and rooms used during the past Congressional sessions as well as various artifacts and memorials built since then.
Finally, the interns met with Congressman Scott Garrett and spent some time asking the Congressman questions and discussing some pertinent issues regarding the national economy, the local gas prices in NJ, language assistance for Korean American in NJ, and of course, the “Dokdo” issue. The Congressman stated he was working to help the community in these hard economic times and working to stop unnecessary government intervention in community activities as well as provide more funding for the local seniors and war veterans in Paramus. Pertaining to the “Dokdo” issue, Congressman Garrett stated he would definitely look into it, but that this issue was out of his jurisdiction and that the community would have to go through other channels to efficiently target this issue. He also stated that considering the long positive relationship in which the United States and South Korea have prospered under, this issue would be dealt with in a positive manner.
After a long day in the sweltering Virginia sun, the interns took one last look at the beautiful monuments and buildings and called it a day. Another four hours the would be back home, but the experiences and memories would linger in their minds for much longer.