June 7, 2004: Headlines: COS - El Salvador: Congress: Politics: Service: La Voz od De Anza College: El Salvador RPCV Congressman Honda performs his civic duty

Peace Corps Online: Directory: El Salvador: Special Report: RPCV Congressman Mike Honda: June 7, 2004: Headlines: COS - El Salvador: Congress: Politics: Service: La Voz od De Anza College: El Salvador RPCV Congressman Honda performs his civic duty

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-45-115.balt.east.verizon.net - on Tuesday, June 08, 2004 - 7:35 pm: Edit Post

El Salvador RPCV Congressman Honda performs his civic duty

El Salvador RPCV Congressman Honda performs his civic duty

El Salvador RPCV Congressman Honda performs his civic duty

Congressman Honda performs his civic duty

by: Anna Callahan
June 07, 2004

Mike Honda, who rose from agricultural sharecropping to representing Silicon Valley in Congress, will give the keynote address June 26 at De Anza's 37th annual commencement. Honda is one of the 53 Congressman from California in the House and represents more than 1.6 million people.

Honda, 62, was born in Walnut Grove, Calif., but spent many of his early years in Granada, Colo. He and his family were among the thousands of Japanese-Americans who were forced from their homes into internment camps during World War II.

Honda is an example of the Spanish phrase "Si, se puede" or "Yes, we can," said Paul Fong, president of the Foothill-De Anza board of trustees, who extended the invitation to Honda on behalf of interim president Judy Miner.

Honda is an all-American role model of how one's hard work, determination, and positive attitude can overcome obstacles and discrimination, Fong said.

Much of Honda's success can be attributed to his value of education. After returning from the Amache camp in Colorado, his family became strawberry sharecroppers in Blossom Valley in 1953.

He later worked his way to San Jose State University, earning a bachelor's degrees in biological science and Spanish in 1968, as well as a master's in education in 1974.

Honda took a two-year hiatus in 1965 to build schools and health clinics in El Salvador with the Peace Corps. He returned fluent in Spanish and with a passion for teaching.

Honda taught high school science and served as a principal before entering politics. Former San Jose Mayor Norm Mineta appointed Honda to the city planning commission in 1971.

Honda won his first election for the San Jose Unified School Board in 1981, and served as a Santa Clara County supervisor in 1990. In 1996, his constituency elected him to the state Assembly.

While in the Assembly, he helped draft bills to mandate smaller class sizes and increase teacher benefits in public schools. With the encouragement and endorsement of former president Bill Clinton, Honda ran for the U.S. House of Representatives, and has made education one of his priorities since election in 2000.

Honda, who serves on the House Committee on Science, helped obtain funding for a state-of-the-art planetarium for De Anza, which is now known as the largest planetarium on a college campus west of the Rockies.

Now with a student population of 25,000, De Anza has given many of Honda's former high school students "outstanding educations," combining excellent general educational and vocational courses, Honda said.

Fong, who has helped with every one of Honda's campaigns and was a student at the high school where Honda taught, said Honda is a classic public servant and a politician who is real, close and approachable.

In their spare time, the men visit karaoke bars because Honda loves to sing. Fong said Honda is a "down-home, nice guy."

De Anza political science professor Gregory Druehl has also been a personal friend of Mike Honda for over 30 years.

"[Honda] hired me for my first job at San Jose State and we have been friends ever since. Mike is the most honest, dedicated and caring person I have ever known in public life," said Druehl.

Another close friend of Honda's, former mayor of Cupertino and Chairman of De Anza's Asian & Asian American Studies Department Michael Chang, said, "It is well known that Mike's early experience growing up in an American concentration camp had a great impact on him. I think his life's work is to make America live up to its own ideals of equality and opportunity for all."

Now that he represents part of the state with the most Asian-Pacific Islanders, Honda has made Asian-American concerns an important mission.

He authored a resolution seeking reparations for internment, and, as a state lawmaker, helped get Chinese and Vietnamese ballots for Santa Clara County.

He has co-chaired the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. Honda praised the diversity of De Anza's student population, with students from around the world and from many ethnic and racial backgrounds.

"This, to me, is a critical component of the true learning experience that higher education affords," Honda said.

Chang said, "I am most inspired by Mike's inner strength and direction, his courage to stand up for what he believes in, and his persistence. To him education is much more than just academic knowledge. His Peace Corps experience was as important to his education as attending university. Mike Honda always try to convince students that politics and policy does matter. There are real choices, and students should not be bystanders, but actively weigh-in, since they are directly impacted."

The graduation ceremony will be on June 26, 2004 from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Outdoor Events Arena.

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Story Source: La Voz od De Anza College

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - El Salvador; Congress; Politics; Service



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