Fairfax County’s New Comfort Women Memorial Courts Controversy (Asian Fortune, July 15, 2014)

Fairfax County’s New Comfort Women Memorial Courts Controversy By Tamara Treichel

Fairfax, Virginia – A simple granite boulder flanked by two turquoise butterfly benches has been silently sitting on the grounds of Fairfax County’s government office.

The boulder seems quite inconspicuous, perhaps even humble. But the boulder and benches bear a greater significance.

It is a Comfort Women Memorial, dedicated to thousands of women, euphemistically called “Comfort Women,” who were forced to provide sexual favors to the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II.

“May these ‘Comfort Women’ find eternal peace and justice for the crimes committed against them,” the plaque on the memorial reads. The Comfort Women’s countries of origin are “Korea, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Netherlands and East Timor.”

But are the women known as “Comfort Women” and their families finding peace and justice?

Fairfax County’s Comfort Women Memorial, which was unveiled on May 30, may be a step in that direction.

When asked what the butterfly benches symbolize, Grace Han Wolf, a Korean American from the Herndon Town Council, told Asian Fortune that the butterflies are a symbol for the Comfort Women and “signify hope and freedom from discrimination.”

Butterflies have not only become symbols of the soul, but also of Comfort Women

Butterflies have not only become symbols of the soul, but also of Comfort Women

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Preparing Asian American Teens for the English SAT (Asian Fortune, July 2, 2014)

Preparing Asian American Teens for the English SAT By Tamara Treichel

SAT English Class, photo courtesy of Tina Huang, World Journal

SAT English Class, photo courtesy of Tina Huang, World Journal

These past few months, I had a stint teaching an English SAT Class at the Chinese Community Center in Houston on Saturday mornings. I thought it would be a nice way to become more familiar with the Chinese community in Houston.

As I was feverishly preparing myself for my first class on a Friday night, my husband said I looked as if I were “preparing for battle.” As I rushed out of the front door the next morning, I was armed to the teeth with a heavy SAT Kaplan book and copies of exercises and lesson plans, which I had stuffed into my Mary Poppins-like bag.

My class would consist of six Asian American teens, some of whom were occasionally ushered to class by their parents. The teens were in grades 9-11, and as I would later discover, they were four Chinese students from Taiwan, and two Vietnamese. As I sat down on a rickety folding chair that reminded me of my own high school days using all the grace I could muster, six faces looked across the room from me – not so much excitedly, but just ready and resigned to their collective fate of spending their Saturday mornings with me, working on SAT essay writing, vocabulary work, and reading comprehension. Continue reading