Writer: Roger Nielsen
Members of a Korean government training delegation meet with Athens-Clarke County Mayor Nancy Denson and County Manager Blaine Williams during the job-shadowing segment of their four-week training program with the Institute of Government.
Yunja Jang raved about her experience during a month-long training program the Institute of Government developed for South Korea’s Local Government Officials Development Institute (LOGODI).
“As a public official, I always really wondered about how local governments in the United States are organized, how they function and how the local officials work. You gave me exactly what I hoped for,” said Jang, deputy director of the Gyeongbuk Provincial Government’s Economic Development and Promotion Agency.
Jang and 27 other provincial and metropolitan government managers in LOGODI’s Global Leaders Program learned first-hand about American public administration during the four-week visit. The Institute arranged for the LOGODI delegation to shadow Athens-Clarke County government managers, study American governance with Institute faculty and attend the University of Georgia’s Intensive English Program.
The Institute also hosted cultural activities, like touring the World of Coca-Cola and the Georgia Museum of Art, but it was the job-shadowing opportunity that made the strongest impression on the visitors—and local government leaders as well.
“I visited several departments,” Jang said, “and all of the officials seemed to have a sense of pride and expertise in their work. They all welcomed us and showed us how they work.”
Athens-Clarke Mayor Nancy Denson recognized the Korean officials at a county commission meeting. County Manager Blaine Williams, executive staff and department heads gave educational presentations and led tours of public safety and service facilities.
“We found them to be very engaged and personable. We all felt it was a wonderful experience,” Williams said.
The training program ran from May 10 to June 9 and was the Institute of Government’s first project with LOGODI. The organization provides professional development training for government managers and senior officials in South Korea. LOGODI had sent training delegations to the United States twice before, but this was the first one that included government job shadowing, according to Taesik Yun, the Institute of Government’s Korea program coordinator.
“It was really more than shadowing, it was more like government sharing—sharing of knowledge and issues and expertise. LOGODI was very pleased about the opportunity that the Athens-Clarke County government provided,” Yun said.
The delegation leader, Eun-jeong Park, assistant deputy director of Gyeongbuk Province, called the training a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“The program provided tremendous opportunities for us to learn about the local government systems of the United States and the genuine efforts that the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government is making to figure out and meet the needs of each and every member of the community,” she said.