I was able to grow and meet people who share common interests.
I’m Heeyeon Ryu, and I'm currently studying abroad at American University. I'm sure that if you’re considering D.C. to study abroad, you have probably heard about the many opportunities to attend seminars organized by famous think tanks. So today, I will share my experiences about attending such seminars and events in D.C. I have always dreamed of becoming a diplomat, so I am very interested in politics and international relations. Thus, I attended seminars related mainly to those fields.
One of the most famous think tanks in D.C. is the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and they have representatives from Korea, Japan, and China. They have held a lot of seminars and events about Modern East Asia. I attended in September, and the topic was the importance of the U.S.-Japan-Korea Trilateral Defense Cooperation. In response to Japan’s export regulation on South Korea, South Korea broke the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA). Through this seminar, not only did I learn about how the United States viewed the situation, but I also realized the power of CSIS — a lot of the Korean media was present to record and document the event. After the seminar, I chose this topic for my research subject.
I also participated in the “Mentoring Seminar for Young Korean American Leaders,” organized by the embassy of South Korea at the Korean Cultural Center. It was a private event, but I was able to attend because a friend who interned there invited me (if there’s an embassy located near you, be sure to check it out, as they often hold programs and events). At the event, they talked about our lack of representation in America and taught us about Korean American rights. After seeing how many Korean Americans suffered from the L.A. Riots, the Council of Korean Americans and the Korean American Grassroots Conference (KAGC) were created in hopes of avoiding the same situation from happening again. The event speakers also touched on the differences between the first and second generations of Korean Americans, and how to continue moving forward as a young Korean American leader.
The advantage of these events — think tank seminars, embassy events — is gaining knowledge while also meeting people with similar interests. I met a lot of my Korean American colleagues who were studying or working in D.C. I shared my thoughts and difficulties, and we were able to help one another. There are seminars on various topics; if there’s one in your area of interest, I highly recommend participating. You can check out the schedule through email — just be sure to wear business attire when attending!