Connections Across Oceans: Speaker Emeritus Rep. Say, DHS and Chinese Students Learn Together

Posted on Aug 24, 2017 in Main

For three weeks August, Speaker Emeritus Representative Calvin Say hosted three students from different regions of China for a learning exchange and internship. The students come from a variety of backgrounds including mathematics, industrial design, and travel industry management.

The students’ three weeks were packed to the brim with opportunities for the students to learn about Hawai‘i state government and the state in general. They visited public agencies from the University of Hawaii to the executive branch to the state legislature to the city government, learning from each. They also got a chance to interact with private organizations during their time with Rep. Say.

Rep. Calvin Say, DHS Special Assistant Lila King and DHS Dir. Pankaj Bhanot introduce three Chinese students to Hawaii and our department.

Director Bhanot enjoyed the opportunity to host the students for a brief visit. He shared with them an overview of the department as well as his vision for our team and the individuals and families we serve.

When one student learned of our work with youth in Child Welfare Services and the Office of Youth Services, she spoke about the problems she has seen with sex-trafficking of youth in rural areas of China. She asked Dir. Bhanot how our department has worked to address the issue. Dir. Bhanot spoke of CWS efforts to prepare DHS staff and resource caregivers to identify and work with those who may be sex-trafficked or formerly sex-trafficked. He also discussed the partnership CWS has formed with OYS in creating a space to work with sex-trafficked youth.

During their time with Rep. Say, the students learned about government functions and policy issues affecting Hawai‘i’s citizens, helped research and draft legislation and learned about our diverse culture. It was Rep. Say’s goal that this experience would encourage these students, one of whom is attending the University of Hawai‘i for graduate school this semester, to be ambassadors to and for Hawai‘i.

We are glad the Department of Human Services could help add to their knowledge of our aloha state and wish them the best of luck in their studies.