[Englewood Cliffs Council Woman Gloria Oh (in the middle) and KACE Interns]

On August 15th Gloria Oh, Englewood Cliffs councilwoman, came to KACE New Jersey office as a guest speaker and engaged in an informal discussion with the KACE interns. Councilwoman Oh was elected in November, 2011 and is one of the few Korean American women involved in local offices. Councilwoman Oh is an attorney running a title agency, and recognized politician from both Korean and non-Korean American community.

Councilwoman Oh immigrated to the United States at the age of 7 in the summer of 1976. She recounted her fears at diving into an entirely new culture and language on her first day of American school. At her time, there were not as many Asians in Bergen County- as a result, she grew up in a largely non-Asian society.

She became a business owner in 2006 after serving in the banking industry. She returned to graduate school to pursue law while raising a family. As a mother, a working woman and a councilwoman she advocated for communal involvement. She described herself as a “liaison” of the Korean American community. Having been raised in a ethnically isolated environment, she has seen that many Korean Americans have continually been separated from the mainstream community- unable to engage with non-Koreans.

The reason for her recent involvement in politics was that she believed Koreans needed to be more involved. She hoped that she would set the precedent for Koreans to engage more with other ethnic groups. She advocated for youth involvement in local politics in order to sustain political momentum for Korean Americans. She posed a question whether a Korean American president could be possible. According to Councilwoman Oh, Bergen County is experiencing a surge in power for Korean Americans- she cited examples including the introduction of a Korean ballot. She highlighted several times for the importance of encouraging Korean Americans to register to vote, and get involved with the community.

[Gloria Oh shared her experiences as a Korean American community leader and politician]

Councilwoman also highlighted the importance of involving in own community especially for Korean American youth. For last 14 years, she has been active with Korean American community and also the mainstream community in Bergen County Area, especially in Englewood Cliffs. She was involved in KPA and Englewood Cliffs Board of Health and served as a president of Fort Lee Korean Chambers of Commers. According to her, she has worked more hard because she is a Korean American to connect Korean Americans and the mainstream. She said that she has tried to make best what assigned or given to her at that time, and all the opportunities followed her. To one of our intern Jisung Kim's question about the social stigna due to the ethnic or racial matter, she responded that she has faced any types of stigna or prejudice and shared her tips how she could be away from the opposition from the main stream and Korean American community. Her tips were fairly simple. 

 

1. Get involved

2. Build a relationship

3. Make myself as an asset to others members

4. Fill good supporters around me

Meeting with Councilwoman Gloria Oh was a great chance to show a role model to KACE's Korean American youth and hear many hand on experiences as a leader of Korean American community.

 

KOREAN AMERICAN CIVIC EMPOWERMENT
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