By Guest Contributor on Friday, September 13th, 2013
It is amazing how things work out in life. How sometimes something from your past connects with your present day situation.
Here’s one such story with a Peace Corps/public service theme.
Helen Chung remembers meeting her Congressman at the time – Norm Mineta – when she was in the eighth grade.
About a decade later, Helen was taking an early step into public service as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Republic of Georgia. In 2006, as she was concluding her service, she received a letter from her congressman. But Norm Mineta was no longer her representative. The letter was from Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) Mike Honda (El Salvador 1965-67), who had begun representing California’s then 15th District in 2001. Helen still remembers that letter, especially because Congressman Honda referenced his Peace Corps service and could (understandably) say “I know how you feel.”
Helen answered the call to Peace Corps service a second time, when she became a Peace Corps Response Volunteer in the Philippines during 2010 and 2011.
Soon after her return home, Helen’s evolving path of service took her to Washington where there were intersections with both congressmen. In 2012, Helen received a congressional fellowship through the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (AIPACS) – an organization founded by her former Congressman Mineta. Her nine-month assignment? Serve her fellowship with the office of Congressman Honda!
Helen obviously performed well. That’s because in July, shortly after the conclusion of her fellowship, she was hired by Congressman Honda’s office to stay on board as a Legislative Assistant. She joins several dozen other Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who work as congressional staff on Capitol Hill. Reflecting back to her Peace Corps days, Helen said “I never would’ve expected that I would be working for (Congressman Honda) six years later.”
This story is one of many showing how the Peace Corps experiences and connections to people provide an environment of support and opportunity to continue serving others and bring global experiences back home – including and especially to the halls of Congress.
Our thanks to NPCA Intern Galata Tona for this post.