Q&A with Sung Sohn
Interview Questions with Partnering Organization
Q: When did you get involved in your organization and what is your title?
A: Along with the other two co-founders, Russ Lowe and Nancy Lee, I co-founded ESJF June of 2017. I’m the Executive Director.
Q: What is the mission of your organization?
A: Our mission is to provide education on past injustices relegated to the sidelines of history.
Q: What attracted you to the cause?
A: As a former teacher, I understand the challenges of teaching sidelined history without having necessary resources. The members at ESJF know that the two most effective ways to motivate and support teachers in this undertaking are to provide them with resources and to hold workshops. Since last year, our project has been on addressing the unresolved history and issues of “comfort women.” This spring, we published “Teachers’ Resource Guide: “Comfort Women” History and Issues and distributed it to teachers in SFUSD. This summer, we published “Comfort Women” History and Issues for Students.
This cause also holds a personal connection for me because I’m keenly aware that my own grandmother could have become a victim of military sexual slavery since she was born in 1922, only two years before Hak-Soon Kim, the first surviving victim to testify in public, was born.
Q:What attracted you to collaborate with Pacific Atrocities Education in particular?A: The atrocities committed in the Pacific are among the sidelined history that ESJF tries to address.
Q: What are your activities and what do they involve?
A: Our first activity was to raise 5,000 USD to make up for the lost funding at Chiba Korean School in Japan. The Chiba Mayor took away their funding because two students expressed opposition through their artwork to the Japanese government’s act of silencing and ignoring the victims and survivors of Japanese military sexual slavery. The original art pieces were displayed at a 2016 exhibition in Japan.
Q: What motivates you to stay involved?
A: I’m motivated by the thought of motivating others in turn, students and teachers both, to create a more just and peaceful society.
Q: In your opinion, what is the most important work that Pacific Atrocities Education and your organization do?
A: Providing meaningful and engaging opportunities for students and teachers of all races to be more aware of sidelined history and the voices of the marginalized.
Q: Of what contribution or achievement are you most proud?
A: I’m proud of being able to raise $5,000 to make up for the lost funding and to support the courage of the two students who spoke up for justice for “comfort women” in 2016. I’m also greatly proud of our two publications because they are the products of collaborative work by many Bay Area citizens fighting for justice, including Eric Mar, teachers, parents, and Redefine Community.
Q: What do you hope PAE and your organization will achieve in the near future? In the long term?
A: ESJF would appreciate having access to some of the research PAE has done and will be conducting so that we can build upon the PAE’s work. One of our ideas is to add engaging lesson plans.
Q: Do you have an anecdote about this cause/organization that really moved you?
A: I had a special opportunity to visit Chiba Korean Elementary and Middle School in Japan in August of 2017. Having met the children and teachers at the school, who are struggling to preserve the Korean language, culture, history, and identity against unimaginable odds, was incredibly moving and empowering. Also, in spite of the harsh pressure from the government, they have so much compassion for victims of natural and man-made disasters, as well as optimism for the future. I have much to learn from them.
In addition, having met and getting to know the two friends and mentors who co-founded ESJF with me has been a blessing.
Q: What other organizations or causes do you support?
A: We support all educational organizations that fight for justice for marginalized populations and history.
Q: Do you have a message to share?
A: What we are doing may be a raindrop in a big bucket. But I know as long as each drop keeps on falling, we’ll fill the bucket.
For more information, visit: e4sjf.org