Sunday, September 13, 2009

On further reflection

Highlights from our recent visit:

It has been an amazing experience to be involved in the rapidly changing view of and supports for unwed mothers and their children in Korea. In the few short months since last I visited, there is now a vibrant and thoughtful group of mothers who are educating themselves and speaking out publically, excellent research on unwed mothers and public perceptions related to them has been published, programs such as AeRanWan have expanded their services into the community, the Hanbumo Support Center has expanded services and opened new facilities, the Government has asked for information about policies to support women and children, child support has been clarified, and the public seems increasingly aware of the value of supporting women and children from all walks of life.

For me personally, it was a great gift to reconnect with the wise and thoughtful people who had come to America for the first study tour in Vermont and New York. The fact that organizations were willing to support this learning experience seemed very important. It was exciting to watch as Korean researchers connected with American researchers, as practitioners shared experiences, as policy makers learned from one another and as parents shared their joy about the support they received to raise their children with people who were hoping to make the same opportunities available in Korea.

It would be very hard to pick out highlights from our most recent visit, but here is a short list:

Learning from a wonderful group of elementary school teachers when I had a chance to give a lecture on Multicultural issues at Sookmyung University .

Being part of the amazing presentation by the mothers group, now know as the Mama Mia group. Traveling across the beautiful countryside to Busan, and engaging with the dedicated people there from so many different agencies. Meeting staff from the Korean Human Rights Association. Being inspired about the future from the Korea foundation for Woman. Visiting the me You Us Center and the Doori Home. Talking with wise, knowledgeable reporters. And continuing to learn from the researchers at KWDI and the staff at KUMSN. Two especially personal highlights were meeting Betsy-Gay Kraft and her daughter Kristen and attending the Quaker Meeting in Seoul.

Dr. Cheryl Mitchell