On June 2nd, 2015, Korean American Civic Empowerment (KACE) and Kupferberg Holocaust Center of Queens Community College hosted the 4th Asian Social Justice Internship ceremony at the Kupferberg Holocaust Center.
The Asian Social Justice Internship is a 12-week program that seeks to educate its participants about the war atrocities committed by the Japanese government during World War II. The program was established in September, 2012 and is supervised by Professor Jimin Kim, who earned her doctorate degree in East Asian history at Columbia University.
Dr. Dan Leshem, the newly appointed director of the Kupferberg Holocaust Center, started the ceremony with a presentation explaining the correlation between the Holocaust and the “Comfort Women.” Dr. Leshem stated that he is often asked why the Holocaust Center is involved in the “comfort women” issue, and addressed this question saying that cases of sexual violence did exist during the Holocaust much like the “comfort women”, although they have been neglected in the scholarly discourse. He added that the Kupferberg Holocaust Center has a responsibility to work together with the Korean Americans because they are all part of the same community.
At the ceremony, the interns presented the projects they had conducted throughout the course of the program. The interns were given opportunities to speak with the “comfort women” survivors via Skype, and drew inspiration out of the interviews to conduct different projects, such as creating a website, posters, and paintings. They expressed outrage at what they have learned, and stated that they will continue to raise awareness about the “comfort women” in their campus community.
Chejin Park, KACE’s staff attorney, congratulated the interns for their hard work and urged them to continue publicizing the issue. He stressed that “comfort women” survivors were passing away and an apology from the Japanese government needs to be made as soon as possible.
A representative from Assemblyman Edward Braunstein’s office also attended the ceremony and delivered certificates to the interns.