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December 07, 2011 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2011-12-07

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8B Wednesday December 7,201 // The Statement


L ast year I had to renew my
passport. It was a sad day
when I received my new, crisp
and untouched little blue book.
It's not that I don't like change -
I've had my fair share of change
in life so far - it's just that my old
passport was so well worn. It had
visas. It had character. It had the
dust of five different continents on
it. I was so proud of my stamp col-
lection, and the new one didn't do
justice to what I knew as my life so
I've been fortunate enough to
have not only traveled out of the
country, but to have come from
an international family (as crazy
as they are) and live abroad. In
2003, my family made our first
big move to Tokyo, Japan. I was in
seventh grade, and in my middle

school prime - not the ideal time
to move halfway across the world.
But when my parents proposed the
move, my sisters and I were sur-
prisingly game for an enormous
life change despite the fact that
we never really had a strong inter-
est in our Japanese heritage. I did
have two Japanese names, I looked
half-Japanese and my grandmoth-
er's cooking was occasionally Jap-
anese inspired, but otherwise, we
were not well-acquainted with the
culture and we definitely did not
speak the language.
We moved in July 2003, and I
spent the rest of the summer get-
ting lost around our neighbor-
hood, repeating "Irashaimase"
("Welcome to our store") back
to the understandably confused
store attendants and participat-

backgrounds and cultures that it
seemed like there were 200 people
M EA N S in my class. I made my first friend
M E A N S at orientation. She was a Pales-
tinian girl named Dima, and she
I LD H O O D. spoke almost no English. I spent
the next two months communicat-
ing in gestures and sign language
so our conversation was full of
hand motions and awkward gig-
ing in clubs my 8-year-old sister gling, but we ended up becoming
created in her spare time (knitting friends, playing basketball on the
club, book club, video game club). same team and graduating togeth-
Entertainment is difficult when er five years later.
you don't know the language, have During my stay in Japan, I trav-
friends, the Internet or television. eled all around the country for
different sports
"I got to know the culture of tournaments,
class excursions
Japan through the people, and family trips.
I got to know the
festivals, food and everyday life." culture of Japan
through the peo-
Needless to say, I couldn't wait for ple, festivals, food and everyday
school to start. life. I discovered one of my favor-
For the next five years, I attend- ite food, natto, or fermented soy-
ed the International School of the bean. I was asked if my mother
Sacred Heart in Tokyo, an all- truly loved me because all I ever
girl's international school. I only ate for lunch was a peanut but-
had approximately 40 girls in my ter and jelly sandwich, instead
grade each year, but I met so many of a freshly made bento box with
interesting people from different seaweed cut into little trains. And

I had the opportunity to really
make a connection with an other-
wise unfamiliar part of my heri-
Life is full of change. Since liv-
ing in Japan, I've come back to the
U.S. to go to college and my family
has moved to Hong Kong, Shang-
hai and now resides in New Delhi.
After I graduate in December, I'm
planning on joining them and div-
ing into a new culture, a new expe-
rience and getting my next stamp
in my little blue book.
When you move around as
much as I have, with a mother who
is constantly trying to get you to
downsize and throw away non-
essentials from your childhood,
a passport means a lot more than
just a form of legal documentation.
For someone who isn't so artisti-
cally inclined, a passport becomes
a scrapbook of life's memories. The
stamps serve as souvenirs of the
incredible opportunities I have
been lucky enough to have and the
empty pages pushing me toward
future adventures.
-Monica Kusaka Herrero
is an LSA senior

L '
;' .
iu ;

WALLENBERG lomat similar to Wallenberg while
From Page 7B in Amsterdam, she said she felt a
strong connection to his story and
working to create awareness pro- wanted to help raise awareness
grams in honor of Wallenberg. Ideas about Wallenberg.
include instituting a lecture or video Butter and her family lived in
about him at freshman orientation Amsterdam at the start of the war
and holding a celebration on his and were waiting to receive coun-
100th birthday in August. terfeit passports from a man in
While Ellsworth lauds the aware- Stockholm. However, when the
ness efforts of the University's Wal- passports did not arrive, they were
lenberg Medal and Lecture - an seized and taken to a concentration
annual commemorative award and camp in the Netherlands.
lecture that honors citizens who Butter said officials at the camp
havedonehumanitarianwork-and protected the residents from being
the memorials on North Campus senttoAuschwitz -one of the dead-
and in Lorch Hall, he said Wallen- liest concentration camps in Poland
berg's story is still widely unknown. - by attempting to obtain Ecuador-
"It's wonderful that there's a Wal- ian passports that would allowthem
lenberg medal. I think it's fabulous, go to a camp specifically developed
but ... if you were to do a survey of for Jews who held passports from
faculty here in LSA, or of students, I the U.S., Great Britain and other
would be shocked if one in 10 knew countries.
who he was," Ellsworth said. While these camps were purport-
ed to be less perilous, Butter said
A SURVIVOR REMEMBERS this often wasn't the case.
Eventually Butter and her fam-
Irene Butter, a former profes- ily arrived at the Bergen-Belsen
sor in the School of Public Health concentration camp where they
and co-founder of the Wallenberg remained for a year. Their health
Medal and Lecture event, said she was quickly deteriorating when an
felt a duty and desire as a Holocaust exchange deal was struck and a Red
survivor to pay tribute to a man Cross train came to take her and her
who saved the lives of thousands of family to Switzerland.
Jews. Having been saved by a dip- "My mother was very sick, she

hadn't been out of bed for months,
and my father died on the train the
second night out of the camp and
that was very tragic," Butter said.
By the time they arrived in
Switzerland, her mother and
brother were so ill that they were
immediately rushed to the hospital.
The Swiss government prohibited
Butter from staying with her fam-
ily in the hospital. She was homeless
and she was taken a displaced per-
son's camp in Algiers, Switzerland,
where she remained until the war
ended in May1945.
Butter eventually headed for
America on her own, and her broth-
er and mother joined her the follow-
ing year.
Butter thrived in America. When
she arrived to the University and
started working at the School of
Public Health, she was approached
by Jamie Catlin, then manager for
foundation relations at the Uni-
versity's development office, about
developing an endowment fund in
Wallenberg's name.
At first, she said they hoped
that Wallenberg was still alive and
would one day be able to receive the
award. But as time passed and cer-
tainty of his death increased, the
shift focused to inspiring citizens to
embark on humanitarian initiatives.

"The main goal was for people
to learn more about (Wallenberg),
especially students and the Ann
Arbor community, and so there was
a lot of deliberation on what would
be the best way to do it ... so that he
would serve as a role model for this
community and the model that we
used was that one person can make
a difference," Butter said.
Butter spent five years helping
to amass approximately $500,000
in funding before awarding the
medal to the first recipient in 1990,
Ellie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor
and award-winning author who
has done vast work in advocating
human rights.
Butter said the program's intent
is to inspire people to make a differ-
ence in their community, no matter
how minute the impact may seem.
"We have to be vigilant, and be
aware of the persecution, discrimi-
nation, prejudice and suffering of
other people and try to do what we
can to help, Butter said. "... So many
people think the problems are so
huge, and I'm so small ... but that's
not true. You can always make a dif-
ference at some level. "

John Godfrey, assistant dean for
international education at Rack-
ham Graduate School and chair of
the Wallenberg Committee, said
Wallenberg embodies the spirit of
many University students seeking
to get involved in humanitarian
Godfrey added that Wallen-
berg's vigor and voracious appetite
for academia translated to his fight
against the Nazis.
"What he brought to that cri-
sis was in a way that aptitudes he
brought to Ann Arbor when he
came here as an undergraduate,
which was his resilience, determi-
nation, openness and creativity in
the face of challenge," Godfrey said.
According to Godfrey, Wallen-
berg's story is an important exam-
ple of how to extend classroom
experiences to the world and how to
use knowledge from the University
for the betterment of humankind.
"Raoul Wallenberg is kind of a
mythic prototype for this kind of
an individual who's learning and
whose commitment is not circum-
scribed by the classroom itself,"
Godfrey said. "But who is phased
out into the world and who wants
to engage the world with what he's
learned, and that was Wallenberg at

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