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March 11, 2005 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-03-11

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NEWS

The Michigan Daily -- Friday, March 11, 2005 - 5

PIRGIM
Continued from page 1
The third issue brought up by Varner was that Student PIRGIM
plans to use the money to hire a professional campus coordinator.
The University would not have sufficient control over the coordi-
nator because he would be selected and employed by PIRGIM,
Varner said, a complication that might cause legal problems.
"Instead of paying someone a permanent salary, it would be
much wiser for PIRGIM if they did something like fund a training
retreat," Varner said. "This way we can be really sure students in
the group are getting what they need and not giving the University
an undue burden."
Students for PIRGIM argued that the campus coordinator is
essential to completing their missions. They likened not having a
coordinator - a position they said all of the other Student PIRG
chapters in the country have - to writing a thesis without a pro-
fessor, adding that it would lessen their impact and the power of
students.
"It's a whole other wealth of experience," said Abe Scarr, who
works for PIRG and is helping students set up a group at the Uni-
versity.
The University should trust students to hire the campus coordi-
nator, Students for PIRGIM chair Carolyn Hwang said.
"This is an insult to the abilities of students," she said.
Members of Students for PIRGIM believe that Varner's con-
cerns stem from a personal bias against PIRG.
"She should not use her authority to advance her personal opin-
ion," Hwang said.
Varner emphasized that she has nothing against the group.
"This really isn't about a PIRGIM," Varner said. "I know they
try to make it out that way. This is about establishing sound poli-
cies for student groups."
An MSA vote to grant the group the money was sched-
uled for Feb. 21, but MSA Chief of Staff Elliott Wells-Reid
filed an injunction against MSA to halt the vote, citing con-
cerns that the group would threaten MSA's tax-exempt sta-
tus because part of PIRGIM's parent group is involved in
lobbying. Student PIRGIM, though, has said it will not be
involved in lobbying efforts and that it is an advocacy group
- a difference based on the fact that lobbyists address leg-
islators directly.
As a result of an aborted settlement Wednesday afternoon, the
trial split into three parties - Students for PIRGIM, MSA and
Wells-Reid. At the beginning of the trial, Wells-Reid asked CSJ
to sever MSA from Students for PIRGIM and consider them sepa-
rately. CSJ said it would consider the motion for severance at a
later time and that it should go on with the trial in case the results
are needed.

ADOPTEES
Continued from page 1
the largest international adoption agencies
in South Korea, Americans adopted 19,360
Korean children between 1992 and 2002.
South Korea annually ranks among the top
five countries in the world sending adopted
children to the United States.
Henry Em, professor of Korean history, said
the causes of South Korea's high adoption rates
reach back to the Korean War, in which over
three million Koreans died - almost 10 percent
of the population. These deaths left millions of
Korean children newly orphaned and completely
destitute, he said.
It was after the Korean War, he added, that
Christian organizations first founded adoption
agencies in Korea, motivated by the impover-
ished existence of many Korean children who
were devastated by the war.
These agencies served a growing need as
international adoption rates stayed high in South
Korea well into the 1970s and '80s, he said, add-
ing that unwed mothers faced intense cultural
and legal pressure to give up their children.
"In Korea, you have a system where birth is
recorded in a family registry," Em said. "Because
of the patriarchy, women were not allowed to be
the head of a household. The children of unwed
mothers literally could not have their child's
name recorded in the household registry."
Em explained that because unwed mothers
could not establish their own households, their
only option was to register their children as chil-
dren of their own parents. Legally, the woman's
child would become her younger brother or sis-

ter, he said.
Biracial children, too - often born of a union
between a poor Korean woman and an American
soldier - were commonly abandoned or offered
for adoption. Historically, Em said, Korean soci-
ety is not accepting of biracial children. There
was a "lingering suspicion or stereotype that
a woman who had a child with an American
G.I. came from a prostitute background," he
explained, adding that this stereotype came from
the large number of bars and brothels that perco-
lated around American military bases.
FINDING A PLACE
According to a 2000 study by the Evan B.
Donaldson Adoption Institute, 64 percent of
Korean adoptees surveyed said they considered
themselves Korean-American, or Korean-Euro-
pean, depending on the country to which they
were adopted.~
LSA junior Trista Van Tine, who was adopted
when she was four months old from an orphan-
age in Seoul, South Korea, said being raised in a
white family and community led her to feel like
an "an Americanized Asian."
"I don't see myself as Asian so much as I
see myself as a woman, or a 20-year-old," she
said. "But I am aware of how other people may
see me. The times I feel most Asian are when I
am seeing myself through the eyes of others."
"It is funny actually, because people who
haven't met me but have heard of me expect to
see a white, blonde girl," she said.
Van Tine added that her Dutch last name often
causes confusion among friends, and she is fre-
quently asked about the perceived contradiction

between her European last name and her Asian
physical characteristics.
While Shin said her adopted family has
encouraged her to learn more about Korea, tak-
ing her to cultural events and reading her books
about her homeland, she still struggles to find
where she fits in culturally.
Growing up, she said, she tried to blend into
the culture of the white community where she
lived.
"I was in denial for like 10 years, saying, 'No,
I'm white,' trying to be like everyone else," she
said. "That's what kids want to do - they don't
want to be different."
Not only did her appearance make her feel
unaccepted in a largely white community, but
her upbringing made her feel alienated from the
Asian community.
"Sometimes I feel I'm not Korean enough
because I don't speak the language, even though
I look like I should," she said.
Both Shin and Van Tine reported various
experiences with discrimination while growing
up. For both, this was confusing.
Van Tine recalled an incident when she was
talking on a payphone outside a store. There was
an elderly couple watching her, she said. She
paid little attention to them until she picked up
the receiver and said "hello" to the person on the
other end of the phone.
"The old woman turned to her husband and
said, 'That's probably the only thing she knows
how to say,' " Van Time said. "I was kind of
dumbfounded, but I guess I just brushed it off to
the fact that I lived in a small town where a lot
of the people honestly don't know much about
the world."

"Thinking about it later I was really angry that
people can be so rude and have such prejudiced
preconceptions about others," she added.
Shin also faced prejudice while growing up.
She recalled "people reaching out and touching
your hair, saying, 'Oh, why is it so black?'
"It's harmless children's curiosity, but it still
hurts," Shin said. "I remember being really hurt
in kindergarten by kids saying I couldn't open
my eyes all the way."
In high school, Shin continued to encoun-
ter insensitivity because of her biological race.
There were only two other Asian students at
Shin's high school, one an adoptee and the other
an international student. "The other Asian (stu-
dent) who was adopted was a male, and people
would always tell us to date because we would
be cute," she said.
Van Tine said that although she is sometimes
surprised at the discrimination she sees, she
faces it just like anyoneelse who must deal with
prejudice.
"I think that people who discriminate against
others do so out of a lack of understanding,
whether it be about the person, their surround-
ings or themselves," she said. "Students at this
university or in towns like Ann Arbor may take
for granted that their education and diverse sur-
roundings have made them knowledgeable about
many different cultures."
DIFFICULTY AND OPTIMISM
While both women have faced difficulty
because of their conflicting ethnic identities,
they share sentiments of gratitude toward their
adopted parents.

"I remember being
really hurt in
kindergarten by kids
saying I couldn't open
my eyes all the way."
- Rachel Hyreim Shin
LSA sophomore
"If I had not been adopted, my life would
be completely different. I have a great family
and great friends," Van Tine said, adding that
she feels her adoption as a U.S. citizen has
given her opportunities she would not have
had in South Korea. "I feel that being adopted
into a culture different than my biological one
has also made me a more aware and open-
minded person."
As Shin continues to search for her birth
family, she tries to stay optimistic about her
mother's reasons for offering her up for adop-
tion. "I try not to think of it as her abandoning
me or throwing me away, but trying to give me
opportunities that she could not have provided
for me," she said. "(It's) just the idea that she
left me to be found rather than she left me peri-
od," she said.
"I have such a wonderful life, I have so many
friends and a wonderful family who loves me.
(These are) people who I know that I wouldn't
if my birth mother hadn't left me for some-
one else."

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