By Hyangsook Kwak
On Saturday, February 8th, Global Peace Women International (GPW), a division of Global Peace Foundation, took part in Asia Pacific Cultural Center (APCC)’s 22nd Annual Lunar New Year Celebration, featuring Vietnam, at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington.
Thousands of people living in Washington state gathered on this festive day in order to celebrate all the different countries in Asia. A wide variety of songs and dances were performed on stage by representatives of each country. At this event, over 90 booths were present, representing Asian businesses, religious groups, schools, student clubs, and non-profit organizations. Attendees could learn about all the different Asian cultures and history and were free to walk around to watch the show, try different foods, engage in fun activities/arts and crafts, buy beautiful handcrafted items from vendors, and circle through a number of different booths during the day.
With an emphasis on the “Korean Dream,” in advancing a Unified Korea, and supporting North Korean women refugees, the Women’s division of Global Peace Foundation set up a table to reach out to and talk with festival attendees. More than 200 individuals visited GPF’s booth, including students, teachers, leaders, mothers, and activists, and they showed much interest, curiosity, and optimism towards GPW's mission and diverse works to build a peaceful family and society. Displayed were GPF’s ongoing efforts for the Korean Dream, including fundraisers to support programs for North Korean women defectors, and GPW’s ongoing efforts with the "Peace Begins in the Home '' campaigns to engage families in larger peacebuilding efforts. GPW international staff along with young volunteers at the booth expressed to have had meaningful conversations with people who wanted to learn more about the Korean Dream. Many expressed their desire to support GPF’s peacebuilding efforts to join in service projects to positively impact our local community, and much more, was received positively.
Moreover, around fifty individuals who visited GPW’s booth wanted to stay connected to follow the progression of GPF’s efforts, join future events, and even volunteer their time to support GPF’s work. In particular, many new connections were glad to be invited to an upcoming event, “Paths to Freedom and Human Rights in North Korea,” featuring North Korean defector, Mrs. Eiko Kawasaki, on March 4th at the University of Washington in Seattle. GPW is looking forward to hosting this event to continue to support the Korean Dream and North Korean women defectors.
Volunteers and staff at the booth received much enthusiasm and support not only from members of the Korean diaspora, but also by members of the larger Asian American and immigrant communities, and local residents of Tacoma/Seattle alike. GPW International will continue to partner with the APCC and will continue to hold activities featuring the Korean Dream campaign.