Korean Cultural Guide


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Mounting tragedy for people fleeing Myanmar

When Rehana Begum, 20, fled Myanmar for Bangladesh she was heavily pregnant with twins, struggling for three days across mountains and spending two further days sleeping on the side of the road once she crossed the border.

On the day she arrived at Unchiprang camp, an informal settlement for new arrivals, she gave birth to a boy and a girl. The baby boy died during childbirth, and her husband Sulaiman had to bury him in an unmarked grave in the mud next to their tent.

Rehana and Sulaiman also have a three-year-old son. The small family lives in a tent with no water or food and the exhausted mother prays every day for help to arrive. She doesn’t know how she will take care of her new born or deal with the loss of her son.

The humanitarian crisis in Cox’s Bazar is one of the region’s largest man-made humanitarian crises in decades. More than 415,000 people have fled Rakhine State in Myanmar, arriving in Bangladesh in desperate conditions. As the informal settlements and camps swell with the heavy influx of new arrivals, access to shelter, water, sanitation, food and health services are urgent priorities.

Bangladesh Red Crescent Society volunteers and staff are on the ground, doing all they can to support people as they arrive.

The IFRC has launched a revised emergency appeal for 12.7 million Swiss francs to support to Bangladesh Red Crescent to respond to the most urgent needs of the 100,000 new arrivals from Myanmar within food, shelter, healthcare, capacity and resources. IFRC is urgently seeking more contribution to the appeal which is being implemented in coordination with other actors.

To see original post: Mounting tragedy for people fleeing Myanmar


Jin Kong is a guest research fellow with The Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council (GCWAC) for the next six months. This fellowship is sponsored by The Mission Continues. Through this fellowship, Kong is researching to gain a better understanding of the populist sentiment towards immigrants in the Cincinnati region. This is one blog of many on his research of immigration and Cincinnati. To learn more about Jin Kong click here.

In 2012, President Obama issued a discretionary directive to the Department of Homeland Security (the “Department”) to defer prosecution of certain undocumented children and young adults.

The then DepartmentSecretary Janet Napolitano issued a memorandum setting forth the specifics of a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program which announced steps to forgo the enforcementof “immigration laws against certain young people who were brought to this country as children and know only this country as home.”

The arguments for not enforcing the existing immigration laws were laid out in terms of fairness, efficiency, and justice.

“These are young people who study in our schools, they play in our neighborhoods, they’re friends with our kids, they pledge allegiance to our flag.  They are Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one:  on paper.  They were brought to this country by their parents — sometimes even as infants — and often have no idea that they’re undocumented until they apply for a job or a driver’s license, or a college scholarship.”

President Obama, June 15, 2012

What prompted the presidential directive was more than a decade of legislative failure to enact the “DREAM Act” first introduced in 2001. By 2007, the DREAM Act had strong Republican support from Charles Hagel of Nebraska and Richard Lugar of Indiana. But by 2011, the DREAM Act was locked up in the Senate by Republican senators who wanted more enforcement measures. By this time, two states (California and Illinois) had independently recognized some form of legal status for illegal immigrant students to be eligible for scholarships.

President Obama in 2012 challenged the immigration system as a “broken” system and argued that enforcement resources ought to be allocated in the right places to prioritize border security, increase border patrols, and his agency should focus on prosecuting criminals rather than students. He promised that those individuals who meet the criteria will enjoy “temporary relief from deportation proceedings and apply for work authorization.” Mr. Obama made it clear that it is not an amnesty program, nor is it immunity.

“This is not a path to citizenship.  It’s not a permanent fix.  This is a temporary stopgap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic young people.  It is the right thing to do for the American people.”

In 2014, President Obama tried to expand the DACA program for parents. This new Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program (DAPA) was immediately challenged by twenty-five (25) states in the Southern Federal District Court of Texas. The District Court issued a preliminary injunction to stop DAPA. The Obama administration appealed and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court’s decision.

The Supreme Court’s decision was more interesting. The Court raised sua sponte (on its own accord) the constitutional issue of whether President Obama violated the Take Care Clause of the Constitution, Art. II, section 3, which states: “[the President] shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed …”

The Supreme Court had raised the issue that qualifies the President’s executive power. This on its face seems an attempt to curtail the growing executive power held by the President’s office.

Historically, the “Take Care Clause” was declared at the North Carolina ratifying convention as one of the Constitution’s best provisions. Its basis in English law forbids the Crown from dispensing or suspending the law. George Washington observed his presidential duty to “take care” of the execution of federal laws and stated that “to permit [the laws] to be trampled upon with impunity would be repugnant to that duty.” Under these parameters, the President has a wide interpretative discretion in deciding how and when to enforce. As President Obama pointed out: DACA“is a temporary stopgap measure ….  It is the right thing to do for the American people.” And President Trump, to his amazingly wonderful talent for all things, has deemed DACA no longer as the right thing to do. As noted that the President possesses wide discretion. Trump’s decision is legally defensible as Attorney General Jeff Sessions pointed out in his recent memo advising the Department to rescind the 2012 DACA policy.

Constitutionally, the President’s wide discretion over immigration policies seems undisputed. It traces its roots to the law enacted in 1888 giving the President power to deport all aliens judged to be dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States. The Chinese Exclusion Case of 1889 further expanded the presidential discretion as the Supreme Court gave deference to the political branch and claimed that the power of exclusion [of aliens] is an incident of sovereignty delegated by the Constitution.

“Guide the people by law, subdue them by punishment; they may shun crime, but will be void of shame. Guide them by example, subdue them by courtesy; they will learn shame, and come to be good.” – Confucius

But ethics are not necessarily the same as abiding by the law; and the Constitution is not merely a document that specifies legality.

President Obama’s moral exercise of discretion to apply a temporary waiver seems a permanent reality; no one believes Congress will ever come to do anything. On the other hand, it is cruelto break up families and is economically indefensible to waste resources on deporting good people while criminals escape attention for the political opportunity.President Trump can’t possibly have made this decision based on his years of business experience?

So, it seems the American representative democracy now has a choice in how we want to be seen as a steward of progress. Are we willing to dispense with morality and enforce laws for want of abstract sense of national supremacy or narcissistic identity; or are we willing to demand morality and legislative responsibility to do the right thing?Either way, it is up to Congress to answer this very essential question of our American experience for the want of exceptionalism or indolent mediocracy. As with all things in life, a choice to make for the Dreamers.

The blog is in part of the Mission Continues blog series, written by Jin Kong and therefore all words and thoughts are his own and not a reflection of GCWAC. GCWAC nor Jin Kong owns any of the photos included. 

Last Month: New GCWAC Team, International Outreach, Blogs & more

Welcome to the GCWAC Team

Ciarra Wooten, Education and Development Coordinator

Ciarra joined the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council (GCWAC) in a part-time position in September of 2017. In her current role as Education and Development Coordinator for GCWAC, she will be managing all education programs and expanding outreach and global education initiatives to local K-12 and university students. Ciarra will be assisting in the planning of the International Education Summit and the Academic WorldQuest as well as key development events. She is very excited to join GCWAC and serve the community in a spirit of sustained investment in global education and fellowship.



Hannah Gerth, Communications and Programs Coordinator

Hannah joined the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council (GCWAC) as a Public Ally in September 2017. Her current role as the Communications and Programs Coordinator for GCWAC consists of coordinating and executing overall logistics for events. She will also be managing and editing all social media accounts for GCWAC. She is very excited to start this new journey and interact with a variety of people from all over the world.



Andrew Michels, Global Exchange Intern

Andrew joined the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council (GCWAC) as an intern in September 2017. In his current role, he will be assisting with the U.S. Department of State’s premier exchange program, the International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP). Andrew is excited to be a part of GCWAC and help connect citizens of the world.



Halle Morel, Programs Intern

Halle joined the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council (GCWAC) as an intern in September 2017. Her current role at GCWAC focuses on Global Education. Halle is currently in her third year at the University of Cincinnati, double majoring in International Relations and Spanish with a focus in Economics. She is very excited to work with GCWAC this semester!



The Team at the Cincinnati Art Museum

The GCWAC team at the Cincinnati Art Museum for Art after Dark for the first staff outing! Here we are standing in front of the Mihrab (prayer niche) that was formed in the late 15th or early 16th century in Iran or Central Asia. Devout Muslims pray five times a day while kneeling toward Mecca, Islams Holy City and the site of Allah’s revelation to the prophet Muhammad. Every mosque and prayer niche (like this one) faces in a specific direction. The niche itself commemorates the spot where the prophet stood while leading in congregational prayer.

What Happened this Month?

The Importance of Elections

A big thank you to our speaker, Consul General Herbert Quelle and panelists Dr. Erika Edwards, Mr. Bob Bradley and Mr. Yannick Schilly.

Thank you to the European American Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council and Honorary Consul Martin Wilhelmy who welcomed German Consul General Herbert Quelle to the Midwest and to the Greater Cincinnati region.

Thank you to everyone that took time out of their evening to join us and for the The Queen City Club for hosting!


Lunch with AMICANA

We were happy to be reunited with our friends from Argentina as part of our teacher exchange with AMICANA (Amicana English School) in Mendoza, Argentina.

On September 28th, we had the pleasure of welcoming Eliana as one of our first Amicana teachers to visit Cincinnati. Previously this year, Alison M. Roberson, a English teacher at St. Xavier High School, visited the school in Argentina as the first visitor to launch the exchange.

Our relationship with Amicana was the outcome of a meeting between Dr. Mary Ann Buchino, Advisory Member of the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council and Denise de Bartolomeo, the Director of Amicana School. Denise visited the region as an IVLP Gold Star as a participant on the US Department of State premier exchange program, International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) in 2015.

This is one example of where local meets global at GCWAC!


Mark Powell: U.S. Diplomat puts hometown face on foreign policy for local students

The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Public Affairs/Office of Public Engagement with the Hometown Diplomats Program partnered with the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council to bring, Mr. Mark Powell (hometown of Centerville, OH) to the region to speak to high school and college students.

The mission of this program is to put a hometown face on foreign policy and to explain to America what we do and why it matters. The Program is accomplished through employees volunteering their time during scheduled trips to their hometown to speak with local organizations, schools, government officials, and to participate in media interviews. This program has been widely received across the country.


Health Talk at Oak Hills

GCWAC sends a big thank you to our speakers from Village Life and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital who participated in Oak Hills’ Challenge Day on Friday, September 29th. The students at Oak Hills were engaged on the topic of Global Health and how it connects to our Greater Cincinnati community.

Best wishes to Sue Casey-Leininger, Executive Director of Village Life who is spending two weeks in Shirati, Tanzania. This trip is one of several service learning and volunteer trips led by Village Life to Tanzania.

We were fortunate to have International Patient Coordinators, Ilan Goldman and Liliana Ballesteros from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. They educated students on the crucial support that Cincinnati Children’s provides to international families receiving medical care. Students could share their personal stories with our speakers and understand the many challenges these families face that go beyond language barriers.


Walk for World Peace

On Saturday, September 30th, the GCWAC team participated in the Walk for World Peace at Pine Hill and Corwin-Nixon Park in Mason, Ohio. Peace Day provides a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to Peace above all differences and to contribute to building a Culture of Peace.

We were able to connect with others from the community through a 5K walk around the serene location followed by a group mediation.

Thank you to Mason High School Senior, Ahalya Ramesh, who coordinated and hosted the event.


Jin Kong

A big thank you to our guest blogger, Jin Kong. Jin Kong has been a guest research fellow with The Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council for the past six months. His fellowship was sponsored by The Mission Continues.

Through this fellowship, Kong was researching to gain a better understanding of the populist sentiment towards immigrants in the Cincinnati region. All of his blog postings can be viewed on our website under our Blog section.


World Leaders Visit Greater Cincinnati

In the month of September, Cincinnati hosted 3 delegations of world leaders through the U.S. Department of State’s premier exchange program, International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP).

The visitors travelled from 2 countries including Indonesia & Kuwait. The GCWAC relies on the commitment and skills of our community to develop local professional relationships and showcase Midwest hospitality. This month, our community truly helped to engage the world leaders on topics that included Cyber Security, Strategy, Policy, and Leaders and Education Advising. Continue reading for pictures and more info about what they did while in Greater Cincinnati…

Thank you to all of our local professionals and volunteers who made these visits a big success this month. Thank you –Vantiv, Nexigen and Northern Kentucky University College of Informatics – for meeting with the international delegation from Indonesia to discuss cyber security strategy, policy, and leadership.

Thank you – Winton Woods High School, Cincinnati State, Xavier University, Northern Kentucky University and The University of Cincinnati – for meeting with the international delegation from Kuwait to discuss educational advising.

Thank you to families who hosted our visitors for dinner in their homes!!


Cincinnati-Argentina Teacher Exchange

Let’s Talk Religion

Model Immigrant

Colombian visitors meet with Commissioner Humphrey, JFS managers

The Future of Korea

Mission migrants: Forensic experts from Asia-Pacific emphasize upon information sharing


Missing migrants: Forensic experts from Asia-Pacific emphasize upon information-sharing

The ICRC hosted a full-day workshop on forensic work being done in the humanitarian context, during the recent Asia Pacific Medico Legal Agencies’ Association (APMLA) annual conference. Hosted by the Central Institute of Forensic Science that comes under the Thai Ministry of Justice, the conference was organized from 17 to 19 July 2017, in Chonburi province, Thailand. Over 180 forensic science specialists who deal with humanitarian issues gathered from 17 countries in the Asia-Pacific for the conference.

Over the past two years, the global migration crises has reportedly claimed close to 5,500 lives. Along the Mediterranean route, approximately 4,000 migrants have lost their lives, while almost 800 have died in Southeast Asia. Besides the human toll, there is also the issue of people who go missing while migrating from one country to the other. The key challenge in identifying missing migrants has been lack of communication and information-sharing among related agencies. To address this issue, this year’s conference organized by the Asia Pacific Medico Legal Agencies’ Association hosted representatives from the forensic community across the Asia Pacific region. Experts gathered during the three-day conference to renew contact and discuss problems of mutual interest, aiming to bridge gaps in communication. This year, the ICRC played a crucial role in co-organizing a full-day workshop during the event, in collaboration with the Thai Central Institute of Forensic Science.

The increasing prevalence of migrants either disappearing or dying has pushed several government and non-government agencies to develop specific programmes to effectively identify dead migrants through the application of forensic science. International police agencies such as Interpol have established Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) teams, while international humanitarian organizations like the ICRC have been working on programmes like the Restoring Family Links (RFL) to reunite those who are missing, with their loved ones.

To improve the current methods of working, new forensic technologies are being constantly developed, led by experts such as the Victorian Institute of Forensic Management in Australia. The institute has been studying the use of radiology and molecular biology to identify decomposed and burnt remains from the bladder and toenails.

Despite positive progress, there is a lack of coordination and integration among partners that remains a big challenge. This gap has resulted in unconsolidated figures and also very few successful cases of identification of dead bodies.

“It’s not how much we know, but how we can communicate the data among the bodies working.” – Andrés Patiño, the ICRC regional forensic coordinator

According to the Australian Red Cross (ARC), this lack of collaboration between authorities has meant that out of the 626 cases of missing migrants being handled by the organization, as many as 538 cases remain unsolved. “Our success rate of resolving missing migrant cases is more than 80%. But for deceased migrants, the successful cases are only a handful,” stated Megan Goodwin, an Australian Red Cross representative.

Another parallel issue raised during the workshop was the different policies on information sharing of each organization. While Interpol has confirmed its willingness to help bridge the gap between the two main sources of identification data, i.e., local police authorities and humanitarian organizations like the ICRC or the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), some challenges still remain. For Interpol, information should be collected by the police who are trained in the task, rather than the common man, in order to safeguard the data. For the ICRC, it is important that information is collected for the purposes of investigating the fate and whereabouts of the missing. However, this should be done with the consent of the family. The only exception to this rule is if there is a substantial public interest in the case, or for the vital interests of the person concerned.

“When the fate and whereabouts of missing persons are being clarified, personal data can be processed on the basis of the vital interest of the person concerned or of another person, as well as for important grounds of public interest.” – Maria Mikellide, ICRC Forensic Coordinator in Sri Lanka.

Most of the participants emphasized that dead bodies must be managed with respect and dignity at all times, taking into account the right of families to know the fate of their missing relatives, and the right to receive the remains of their relatives – the principles that are enshrined in international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law (IHRL).

Experts felt that only a spirit of true cooperation between different agencies would help achieve these goals and minimize the suffering of the families of deceased migrants that go missing in the region.

  • Presentation and related documents presented during the workshop can be downloaded from the APMLA website (www.theapmla.net).


View original article: Missing migrants: Forensic experts from Asia-Pacific emphasize upon information-sharing

The Future of Korea

Given the leadership role that the United States continues to play in the world, the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council brings experts to the region so that our community to gain deeper insights into foreign policy/affairs being discussed.

In August, the council brought a panel of experts on a program of the World Affairs Councils of America and the Korean Economic Institute of America with the focus of The Future of Korea in order to deepen understanding of Korea and US-Korea relationship. This type of open dialogue and discussion about the world is more important than ever. The panel of experts included:

Audrey Hsieh is a Foreign Affairs Officer at the U.S. Department of State — In this capacity, she most recently served as an Adviser to the Special Envoy for Guantanamo Closure negotiating humane treatment and security assurances for the transfer of Guantanamo detainees. She currently works at the Office of Korea Affairs focusing on North Korea issues. Prior to her time at the State Department, she served in the US Army as a Psychological Operations officer. While in the military she deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen. She received her undergraduate degree in international studies with a minor in women and gender studies from The College of New Jersey and her MA in Security Studies from Georgetown University. In her free time, she enjoys competitive karaoke and running. Audrey grew up in Ramsey, New Jersey.

Troy Stangarone joined the Korea Economic Institute (KEI) in December of 2005 and is the Senior Director of Congressional Affairs and Trade. He oversees KEI’s trade and economic related initiatives, as well as the Institute’s relations with Capitol Hill and the Washington, DC trade community. As part of his broader portfolio he serves as the editor for KEI’s flagship publication, Korea’s Economy, and oversees KEI’s blog, The Peninsula. He was also a 2012-2013 Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow in South Korea, sponsored by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies. To read more click here.

Jin Nam, 1st Secretary, Economic Affairs Section, Embassy of the Republic of Korea — Nam focuses on U.S.–Korea relations and economic issues, including the successful implementation of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and the New-Frontier cooperation in areas like Space, Cyber-security and Climate Change. Prior to D.C., Nam worked at the Presidential Office (the ‘Blue House’) in Korea as the Assistant Secretary to the President for Foreign Affairs.

During the visit to the Greater Cincinnati region, the panel was interviewed on Cincinnati Public Radio, Cincinnati Edition by Mark Heyne, to discuss The Future of US-Korea Relations. In case you missed it, click here to listen.

Following the interview, panelists met for a small VIP roundtable discussion with regional thought leaders including Joe Dehner, Frost Brown Todd; Francois LeRoy, Northern Kentucky University; Rich Lauf, World Affairs Council Board Chair; Todd Schwartz, European American Chamber of Commerce; and Michelle Harpenau; World Affairs Council Executive Director. The conversation included discussions about China’s perspective of Korea, debate about reunification of North and South Korea, sanctions of North Korea, military options, understanding of today’s US foreign policy, and free trade agreements.

After these in-depth discussions, the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council hosted a public event for the community at The Banquet Center, Nicholson’s Pub with over 65 guests some visiting from Louisville and Lexington. The event opened with registration and family style dinner where guests were able to network and meet the panelists. After dinner, we began the panel discussions with Audrey Hsieh – Foreign Affairs Officer at the U.S. Department of State, Troy Stangarone – Korea Economic Institute (KEI), and Jin Nam, 1st Secretary, Economic Affairs Section, Embassy of the Republic of Korea.

The US Department of State shared historical and current perspective about Korea and US relations while keeping in mind that this is an ongoing conversation. There is discussion about policy change in working with Korea, but not regime change.

The Embassy of the Republic of Korea spoke about statistics and the connection between not only Korea and the US, but Korea and Ohio. The Republic of Korea is the world’s 11th largest economy, 6th largest US trading partner, and a full-fledged democracy.

Finally, Korea Economic Institute closed with details about current sanctions, insights into military options for US and Korea for nuclear weapons testing, and more.

The event closed with Q&A from the audience with questions including: How does China fit into all of this? What is North Koreas’ end game? How do the different perspective play into the conversation such as Japan, Korea, and China? What does the collapse of North Korea really mean for the world? How are the sanctions truly impacting North Korea and working with neighboring countries? How do the humanitarian rights crises (hunger, uneducated, etc.) in North Korea play into the big picture?

Thank you to those who joined for the day’s events. Thank you to our marketing partners including Foreign Policy Leadership Council, XU Brueggeman Center for Dialogue, and Chinese Chamber of Commerce. A special thank you also to our sponsors World Affairs Councils of America and the Korea Economic Institute for support in bringing our honored panel of speakers to the area.

Fun fact: Shin-Soo Choo is a South Korean professional baseball player and used to play for the Cincinnati Reds in 2013 season.

Additional readings suggested:
Wall Street Journal – We’re Holding Pyongyang to Account

If you are interested in getting involved with the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council, SIGN UP (CLICK HERE) to receive weekly activity news and consider JOINING (CLICK HERE) the council’s membership. You may also register for the next event on September 19 where we will be joined by Consul General of Germany Herbert Quelle to discuss The Importance of Elections in Germany for Europe & The World. CLICK HERE to register & learn more.

Colombian visitors meet with Commissioner Humphrey, JFS managers

BATAVIA, Ohio – The Clermont County Department of Job and Family Services and Commissioner Ed Humphrey recently hosted a group of four specialists from Colombia who were participating in the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP).  The topic of the July 14 meeting was “Enhancing Justice in Rural Communities.”

The meeting, which was coordinated by the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council, included Commissioner Humphrey; Shonya Agin, assistant director of Public Assistance; Brenda Gilreath, assistant director of Child Support Enforcement; Ted Groman, assistant director, OhioMeansJobs/Clermont, and Karen Smedley Karen Smedley, supervisor, Children’s Protective Services. They spoke about the family services provided to rural and poorer communities in Clermont County.

The Colombian visitors included Axcan Duque Gamez, legal adviser to the National Association of Displaced Afro-Colombians; Camila Alejandra Hoyos Pulido, a lawyer with the Humanas Colombia Corporation; Angelica Maria Palacios Martinez, mobile director of the Center of Labor Attention; and Nigeria Renteria Lozano, delegate ombudsman for Indigenous and Minority Ethnic People. Simultaneous translators also attended the meeting.

The International Visitor Leadership Program is an example of “citizen diplomacy,” said Michelle Harpenau, Executive Director of the Greater Cincinnati Work Affairs Council. “In a vibrant democracy,” she said, “the individual citizen has the right to help shape U.S. foreign relations, as our members phrase  it, ‘one handshake at a time.’”

U.S. ambassadors rank the IVLP as first among 63 public diplomacy programs in the United States, the council reports. Current alumni include 395 heads of foreign governments, and 77 Nobel Prize winners.

“We enjoyed having the opportunity to meet and exchange views with our visitors from Columbia,” Commissioner Humphrey said. “Our discussion focused on the difference in systems between their country and ours. This kind of diplomatic program – which encourages visits throughout the United States, and not just to Washington, D.C. — has great value as a professional exchange program.”

View original article: Colombian visitors meet with Commissioner Humphrey, JFS managers

Model Immigrant

Jin Kong is a guest research fellow with The Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council (GCWAC) for the next six months. This fellowship is sponsored by The Mission Continues. Through this fellowship, Kong is researching to gain a better understanding of the populist sentiment towards immigrants in the Cincinnati region. This is one blog of many on his research of immigration and Cincinnati. To learn more about Jin Kong click here.


Research is similar to looking through a microscope: the subject is framed and the observer zooms in or out for clarity. In my research into this region’s editorials and Op-Eds on the topic of immigration, concepts such as “assimilation,”“citizenship,” and “deserving” persisted regardless of era or generation. There seem to be some importance they frame I’ve yet to see clearly. So, I decided to take a closer look; put these concepts under the proverbial microscope so to speak.

The kind of an immigration law this country needs is one that beyond any question whatever would make America inaccessible to any but desirables, and these only in such numbers as could be assimilated as citizens.

“They Shall Not Pass!” Cincinnati Enquirer, April 29, 1921

In 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led the civil rights march in Alabama from Selma to Montgomery. The Voting Rights Act became law and the contested Moynihan Report was published. One year later, the United States had nearly 500,000 troops in Vietnam; the Miranda Rights became law; and William Petersen published his controversial New York Times article “Success Story, Japanese-American Style” in which he coined the term “model minority.”

But what is a model minority? And naturally to wonder, what is a prototypical modeled-after majority? Historically, “majority” of the world were ruled by hereditary monarchs, kings, emperors, and other types of privileged nobility. Nobility sets the standard from which society modeled, and birthright mattered.

Then came the French and American revolutions, which triggered an era of constitutional experiments. Self-determination overcame authoritarianism and “born-free” became the new aspiration. At the same time, the great world wars had propelled technology innovation, the condition was ripe for globalization. Varying social compacts developed and accelerated the spread of western democracy. Of the few, the United States constitutional representative democracy became the exciting new modeled-after majority, which people around the world envied.

The founding fathers of this country had achieved a feat when they set the American experiment on its course. However imperfect from a state of nature, Americans came together in hopes to form a more perfect union. Since all were supposedly created equal, we reasoned, no one has a natural right to govern others. Therefore, the only justifiable authority is the authority that is agreed upon by those to be governed. As such, the rights and obligations of individual citizenship were enumerated and contractually charged to the three branches of the government under the Constitution.

In the course of two-hundred and some years, we learned that “created equal” is something easier said than believed. The idea of “citizenship” became contentious. Not all are deemed equal to bargain for their rights under the Constitution. It took a while for emancipation, suffrage, and the eventual civil rights movement to help us gain some ground. But still today, concepts like the “model minority” is used to mark those deserving entitlements and those who are not deserving.

While the use of “model minority” itself seems harmless and well-intended, but it is contentious amongst rights activists. They argue that the concept itself perpetuates a hierarchy of “deservingness” to citizenship thereby creating two separate classes of person hood under the Constitution: one with full rights and privileges to enter into the social contract and be subjects of the Constitutional protection, and the other with less deserving of full person hood thereby relegated to the status of objects of the Constitution.

The very use of “model minority” then establishes a barrier for entry often aligned with another concept that emerged during my research: “assimilation”; which is often account for from fringe considerations including how one speaks American English, believes in American Christian religions, obey the laws, and embraces American values for success.

The concept of “model minority” should be recognized for what it is: a tacit consent to model after some person hood entitled: a citizen, a supremacist, a noble, a king, or whatever name you like. The United States experiment, as I see it, has no such thing. It is an explicit agreement in exchange for what’s earned in service to others and therefore elevated above any individual. The model of a constitutional person hood therefore has no race, color, sex, or ethnic origin; and it is an obligation owed more than rights earned. There can be no model minorities of any particular kind, only models from which the ideals of this country was funded.

The blog is in part of the Mission Continues blog series, written by Jin Kong and therefore all words and thoughts are his own and not a reflection of GCWAC. GCWAC nor Jin Kong owns any of the photos included. 

Let’s Talk Religion

Jin Kong is a guest research fellow with The Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council (GCWAC) for the next six months. This fellowship is sponsored by The Mission Continues. Through this fellowship, Kong is researching to gain a better understanding of the populist sentiment towards immigrants in the Cincinnati region. This is one blog of many on his research of immigration and Cincinnati. To learn more about Jin Kong click here.

In my research of the Cincinnati region’s editorials and Op-Eds, the topic of religion sometimes surfaces; but surprisingly not often. Currently, I found 102 articles and marked 306 text excerpts from those articles relevant to immigration. From this body of research material, I coded 11 excerpts with 6 matching article resources that referenced the concept of religion.

Four groups of people are often mentioned in these editorials/Op-Eds: Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and Puritans. The Jewish community seems most active in voicing their own opinions. For example, the Greater Cincinnati Board of Rabbis on January 31 of this year stated the following in the Enquirer:

“And so we call on all Americans of conscience, no matter for whom you voted, to stand with the Muslim-American community and all minorities. To our elected officials, let us be clear: We will not tolerate bigotry and discrimination in our speech or in our laws. Most importantly, we reject the targeting of individuals based on their religion. As Jews, it is an affront to our fundamental values.”

Religion is an interesting concept that eludes my understanding. I grew up in China in the 80’s. Religion was pronounced counterproductive to the collective achievements. It is still officially labeled as a “bad thing.” Teachers and propaganda encourage a righteous path free from the burdens of dogma.

Guanyi, the Chinese Goddess of Mercy, the one who perceives the sounds of the world

My only exposure to religion growing up was a small Guanyin statue my grandmother had brought with her from the Gobi. She burned incense, clasped her hands and closed her eyes in front of the small clay statute painted gold. My grandfather had come to stay with us for a course of chemo treatment. I remember my cousin came with them, and we spent the summer exploring Beijing unbothered by the noticeable changes our grandfather underwent. He had been a tall man but this thing called cancer had shrunken his body. He was always hunched forward in pain. The worse he became, the more grandma held her hands together in front of the small clay statue painted gold with her eyes closed. I never wanted to understand why.

The concept of religion is a contentious one; there are deep social and political divisions over religious beliefs here in America. It has also evolved over the course of history in pursuit of meaning and purpose, and in the American experiment with “a freedom of religion” it is a quest for national identity. In this quest, formalities, institutions, and personal practices converge to form communities driven by a basic human desire for safety and acceptance. Over the decades, advances such as industrialization and globalization, and compounding forces such as capitalism and scientific progress, have put tremendous stress on traditionally organized religions. They are being rejected. Growing numbers of the United States population are declaring either no religion, or some form of “spiritualism,” “mindfulness,” or similar kinds of ritualistic system in lieu of religions.

Perhaps the rejection is correlated and proportional to capital growth and social change; in direct response, extremists are growing in numbers (e.g., Westboro Baptist, ISISL). Their common thread is some remote illusion of a utopia where life is simple and uniformed; of course, not all are invited. In this ambience, we see a recent emergence of mega-church profit centers amplifying simplified world-views that embrace the modern culture, personal success, and religiously easy existential reform. One can only guess at their intended result, perhaps there isn’t anything more than money in pockets; however, I’m happy to also see a profoundly growing movement of those who embrace the complexities of religion and seek a deeper meaning and experience.

As the world’s old religions fracture under pressure and the modern new ones polarize into extremes, authoritarianism will be ever more opportunistically prevalent. Personal freedom and choice will likely be replaced by safety, comfort, and acceptance disguised as some puffery of “life, liberty, and happiness.”

Is there no escape to the center that cannot hold? Only a renaissance can tell.


The Second Coming, – William Butler Yeats. 1919
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

The blog is in part of the Mission Continues blog series, written by Jin Kong and therefore all words and thoughts are his own and not a reflection of GCWAC. GCWAC nor Jin Kong owns any of the photos included. 

Cincinnati-Argentina Teacher Exchange

Alison M. Roberson, an English teacher at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, was thrilled to be the inaugural visitor on what she hopes will be the first of many exchanges with teachers in Cincinnati and teachers at Amicana English School in Mendoza, Argentina.

Alison observed classes, watched students perform plays in English, helped with classroom exercises, answered questions about her life in the U. S, and visited homes and sights of the city. Alison will host a teacher from Amicana School this fall.

This opportunity was the outcome of a meeting between Dr. Mary Ann Buchino, Advisory Board Member of the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council and Denise deBartolomeo, the Director of Amicana School. Denise came to Cincinnati in 2015 as a member of GCWAC’s International Leadership Visitors Program.

While in Argentina, her hosts Eliana, Ana Laura, and Denise also showed her the Andes Mountains, a winery and olive oil factory, and the monument to the Army of the Andes with San Martin at the Cerro de la Gloria (The Hill of Glory) along with everyday activities of Mendocinos. Since she was in the hemisphere, Alison took a few days to see moai on Easter Island. The warm people, fascinating history, and delicious food made for an unforgettable trip.

Teachers who might be interested in participating in a similar exchange are welcome to contact GCWAC at 859-448-8984 or azekic@cincyworldaffairs.org.


Last Month: Back to School, World Leaders, Blogs & more

Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) INNOV ’18 Back to School Breakfast

 Michelle Harpenau, Executive Director, attended CPS’s Back to School Breakfast. 


World Leaders Visit Greater Cincinnati

In the month of August, Cincinnati hosted 3 delegations of world leaders through the U.S. Department of State’s premier exchange program, International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP).

The visitors travelled from 2 countries including Pakistan and Iraq. The GCWAC relies on the commitment and skills of our community to develop local professional relationships and showcase Midwest hospitality. This month, our community truly helped to engage the world leaders on topics that included Strengthening Civil Society: Building Resilience Against Violent Extremism, Improving Government Responsiveness, and Countering Gender Based Violence through Coalition Building.

Continue reading for pictures and more info about what they did while in Greater Cincinnati…

Thank you to all of our local professionals and volunteers who made these visits a big success this month.

Thank you to the Metropolitan Area Religious Coalition of Cincinnati, 3CDC, Hamilton County Administrator, Uptown Consortium, Mathews 25 Ministries, Ronald McDonald House, and Cincinnati Compass Members.


Thank you to the Cincinnati Police, Hamilton County Court of Domestic Relations, Women’s Crisis Center University of Cincinnati, Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati, Intercommunity Justice & Peace Center, End Slavery Cincinnati, Women Helping Women, Cincinnati Bar Association, YWCA, and the U.S. Attorney Office for meeting with our international delegation on the topic of “Strengthening Civil Society: Building Resilience Against Violent Extremism.”

A Big THANKS to all of our hospitality host, Becky Linhardt, for hosting our entire Iraq Delegation for dinner!

Read any blogs recently? Catch up here: 

Korea – History & Culture

Philippines – A Culture Guide 

Japan – Culture Guide 

Cincinnati Korean American Association (CKAA)
Buddhist Dharma Center of Cincinnati
Korea Focus Cincinnati

Student Associations
University of Cincinnati Korean Student Association
Xavier University International Student Services
Northern Kentucky University Asian Student Association
Miami University Korean American Student Association


Religious Services:

Quick Facts:

There are nearly 2 million people of Korean descent living in the United States, making it the second largest population of Koreans outside of Korea (the first largest is in the People’s Republic of China).

Are we missing your favorite restaurant, a great cultural organization, or want to let us know a fun fact about this community? Let us know about it!