Foundation celebrates memorial hall openingIt all started with one woman wanting to change an accepted social standard. The Nobel Prize-winning American author Pearl S. Buck, who published more than 70 books, founded Welcome House Inc. in 1949, upon learning that existing U.S. adoption services considered mixed-race children, and especially Asian children, unfit for adoption.
She went on to establish the Pearl S. Buck Foundation in 1964, to support Asian-American children. At present, the foundation provides sponsorship funding and programs for children all over the world, having offices in 11 countries, including Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam, India, China and the United States.
Janet L. Mintzer, the president and CEO of Pearl S. Buck International, visited Korea last week, along with board member Janice Walsh, who was adopted by Mrs. Buck and her first husband, John Lossing Buck, in 1925.
“I think her mission was more than just helping children. It’s really more about a cross cultural appreciation and understanding others, building bridges between cultures as well as helping other parts of the world understand each other better,” Ms. Mintzer said.
On Friday and Saturday, celebrations were held for the opening of the new Pearl S. Buck Memorial Hall in Bucheon city, Gyeonggi province. Participating in the event were over 3,000 people, including Ms. Mintzer; Ms. Walsh; the mayor of Bucheon, Hong Gun-pyo; and biracial celebrities in Korea including Insooni, Deanna Kim (real name, Deanna Yong Hendrickson) and Yun Soo-il. Initiated by Bucheon city in 2001, the memorial hall is aimed to keep the memory of Mrs. Buck alive with displays of photographs of the late author and humanitarian, as well as sponsor programs that alert the Korean public to discrimination against mixed-race children here.
“I think that the more you learn about other people, the less afraid you are of them,” Ms. Walsh said.
Ms. Mintzer said, “The Korean people donate and support Pearl S. Buck International in Korea, at a higher level than any other office that we support. Because of the economic situation in Korea improving, they are much more generous and charitable.”
“My hope is that the memorial hall will really bring to light the legacy and dreams of Pearl S. Buck. And that is, that children do not face discrimination because of the circumstances of their births and that they will be treated equally in society,” she added.
by Cho Jae-eun