Event Highlight: Open World – Parliamentary Staffers | Vietnam

In December 2023, Global Ties Sacramento hosted five delegates from Vietnam through the Congressional Office of International Leadership’s Open World Program. This delegation aimed to engage in meaningful dialogue with Congressional staff in California whose committee memberships align with current and potential areas of cooperation between the United States and Vietnam.

The four program days were full of exciting opportunities for the delegation to learn about principles, ethics, and transparency prioritized throughout the California State Congress. They were introduced to the unique attractions of the Golden State by Visit California Director of External Affairs, Dan Smith. The delegation then gained a nuanced foundation of California state legislature and the tenets of federalism with Brian Green, Media Consultant for the California State Congress. They gained insights into the evolution of minority group involvement in California legislation through meetings with the California Legislative Women’s Caucus and the California Asian & Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus.

The visitors marked their meeting with the Fair Political Practices Commission as a truly impactful session of the trip. Speakers Sukhi Brar, Assistant Chief Counsel, and Jay Wierenga, Director of Communications, along with Ryan Grossi, Policy and Communications Specialist with the State Auditor, provided riveting content for the participants. They shared the underlying principles of ethical systems for accountability in the United States government and the mechanisms that enable citizens to foster good governance, ethical standards, and accountability at the local, state, and federal levels. The meeting with the Commission staff highlighted the importance of keeping elections fair and maintaining transparency in that process, as well as the State’s planned methods to hold elected officials accountable. The final program day saw speakers Angela Blanchard of Political Solutions share insights into the role of lobbyists in the United States, and Matthew Ceccato, Deputy Chief of Staff to Congressman Ami Bera, discuss the legislative role and goals for both the office and constituents.

Two key experiences for the Vietnamese visitors came when they found genuine connections to home while still on California soil. First, upon hearing about the visit, a first-generation Vietnamese American Senate Fellow eagerly welcomed the delegation. He expressed a genuine desire to visit Vietnam one day; establishing a meaningful connection between the visitors and the Vietnamese American diaspora. Then, often an integral tool in connecting communities, good food brought the delegation’s visit to a warm close. They generously cooked traditional Vietnamese dishes for the staff at Global Ties Sacramento and their home hosts. This was widely recognized as the highlight of the week. The food they made was delicious, enjoyed as the visitors continued to share traditions and stories about their lives, communities, and country. Two of the visitors even sang “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” in English to the group. It was a memorable experience during which everyone expressed gratitude for the time spent together.

“Throughout the entire program, the delegates consistently exhibited high levels of engagement, enthusiasm, and curiosity… During meetings, they demonstrated active listening and posed numerous insightful questions. The Sacramento resources involved in the interactions also expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to meet with the delegation.” – An Open World Vietnam host, 2023

Furthermore, the connections made here sparked consideration for organizing an international exchange program in Vietnam. Global Ties Sacramento is proud of these positive outcomes that underscore the reciprocal benefits to be gained from the Global Ties cultural exchange program.

Learn how you can get involved with our international exchange programs.