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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Korean community center under discussion

A group of local Korean business and nonprofit leaders are discussing options for establishing a Korean community center. A location hasn’t been determined yet, although Annandale would be a good choice, as it’s the commercial center for the Korean community, and a center here could spur more redevelopment activity.

On the other hand, it could end up in Centerville, which actually has a larger Korean population, or elsewhere in the Fairfax County.

Among the groups involved are the Korean Community Services Center of Greater Washington, with headquarters in Annandale, and the Korean-American Association of Virginia, which is based at the Willston Center in Seven Corners. Several local business leaders are participating in this effort, too.

Members of the Korean community have been talking about a cultural center for years, but haven’t made much progress, so Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova formed a task to help them get started.

According to Bulova, the task force is looking at the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia, just outside Annandale, as a model. The privately funded JCC offers a range of educational, cultural, and athletic programs for children and adults.

Bulova hosted an all-day retreat and brainstorming session with the task force earlier this month at the Palace restaurant in Annandale, where it began to develop a mission statement and vision for the center. Representatives from several non-profit organizations offered guidance on how the task force should organize itself.

During the retreat, Bulova said, task force members expressed an interest in having a place with programs for children, activities like card games and line dancing for seniors, educational programs where young people born in the United States could learn about Korean culture, and classes for immigrants on citizenship and voting.

Bulova described her role in forming the task force as helping the groups facilitate the planning process. “I am merely helping them to realize their dream,”she said.

A chair of the task force hasn’t emerged yet. The groups will present a draft vision and mission statement to their respective members, then reconvene to discuss costs, financing, location, and governance. The community center would be financed and operated privately. “If the county were trying to build a community center, we would do a multicultural center,” Bulova said.

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