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Dartmouth President, Jim Yong Kim, Obama’s Pick to Lead World Bank

Jim Yong KimJim Yong Kim is a great example of a very successful but not-planned-since-birth career that still has not reached its pinnacle. What is interesting is that his success stems from taking the road less taken. While his career choice, a doctor, is a career path encouraged by Asian American parents, the path of least resistance would have been to, well, practice medicine as a specialist. Instead, five years after graduating from Brown University, he co-founded a non profit, Partners in Health, to help provide medical care to the poor in developing countries:

At its root, our mission is both medical and moral. It is based on solidarity, rather than charity alone.

When a person in Peru, or Siberia, or rural Haiti falls ill, PIH uses all of the means at our disposal to make them well—from pressuring drug manufacturers, to lobbying policy makers, to providing medical care and social services.

Whatever it takes. Just as we would do if a member of our own family—or we ourselves—were ill.

I would imagine that he did this from his heart, to do something meaningful with his life, not as a Machiavellian plan to rule the world. Indeed, at Partners in Health, his partner, Paul Farmer, basked in the PR limelight while he seemed to be working quietly in the background for more than fifteen years. From Partners in Health, he went on to World Health Organization focusing on HIV/AIDS while teaching at Harvard Medical School. From here, he became President of Dartmouth College becoming the first Asian-American to assume the post of president at an Ivy League institution. And while this is prestigious position, there is a good possibility that he will become the next president of The World Bank.

Jim Kim, President Obama, The World Bank, Jim Yong Kim

Nice guys DO come in first, it would seem!

“Highly respected among global health experts, Dr. Kim is an anthropologist and a physician who co-founded the nonprofit Partners in Health and a former director of the department of H.I.V./AIDS at the World Health Organization.

“The leader of the World Bank should have a deep understanding of both the role that development plays in the world and the importance of creating conditions where assistance is no longer needed,” President Obama said Friday. “It’s time for a development professional to lead the world’s largest development agency.”

In a statement, Timothy F. Geithner, the Treasury secretary and an alumnus of Dartmouth, praised Dr. Kim, with whom he is friendly: “Development is his lifetime commitment and it is his passion. And in a world with so much potential to improve living standards, we have a unique opportunity to harness that passion and experience at the helm of the World Bank.”

The White House had scrutinized Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts; Lawrence H. Summers, the former Treasury secretary and Obama economic adviser; and Susan E. Rice, the United States ambassador for the United Nations, for the World Bank job.

But all three might make good candidates for high-ranking administration positions in the event that President Obama won a second term. Moreover, President Obama wanted to name a development expert, particularly one with experience aiding the world’s poorest. That led the White House to select Dr. Kim.” New York Times


I suppose that it’s fair to say that perhaps these opportunities, while hard won and deserved, perhaps were not available to Asian Americans even a decade or two ago. Maybe the world has changed significantly when Obama, as the  first African American president was elected. What do you think? Or perhaps is the path less traveled a road that Asian Americans should be exploring more than ever? Do your parents agree? What do they attribute Jim Yong Kim’s success to?



T. Stephanie Tanny: Activist, Visual, and Spoken Word Artist

Stephanie Tanny artist spoken word artist activist JadeLuckClub

Stephanie is a recent graduate of Colorado State University (CSU), where she double majored in Ethnic Studies and Sociology. During the summer of 2009, she interned for the Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA); she helped advocate for comprehensive immigration reform and also created a campus action plan to address the high prevalence of sexual violence on college campuses.

This evolved into her serving as the co-chair of the Interpersonal Violence Response Task Force, which evaluated how CSU handles cases of sexual assault, rape, stalking, sexual harassment, and domestic violence. Stephanie wrote a research paper which involved investigating relevant laws, interviewing survivors, and evaluating her campus-wide survey on the current process.

This past year, Stephanie also worked at the Office of Women’s Programs and Studies on her campus as the Women’s Conference co-chair and at ASAP, the main student programming board, as the Contemporary Issues Assistant Coordinator.

In her spare time, Stephanie loves to paint, write, and dabble in spoken word, where she is keen to share aspects of intersectionality within marginalized identities. Stephanie strives to be a voice and ally for underserved communities. She is currently working at Women’s Campaign Forum as the Political Programs Fellow. her bio from Center for Progressive Leadership

You can see how her experiences shaped her into becoming an activist, visual and spoken word artist and performer. This is her performance at WOPO 2011, the Women’s Lobby of Colorado’s annual art show fundraiser. She is performing Our Clothes in this video. I find her sincerity moving and her evolution from student to advocate to activist/artist an interesting path and I hope to see more of her!

p.s. Check out her artwork here!


Remembering Gordon Hirabayashi, Japanese-American civil rights hero

By Stephanie Siek, CNN

(CNN) –  Twelve years before the U.S. Supreme Court decided separate was inherently unequal, and five months after a Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Gordon Hirabayashi took a stand that he believed would validate his rights as a citizen of the United States.

Gordon Hirabayashi WWII Asian American Rights Activist Japanese American HeroThe son of Japanese immigrants, Hirabayashi lent his name to a landmark court case that challenged the U.S. government’s policy of treating anyone of Japanese descent as a potential enemy during World War II. Hirabayashi, 93, died January 2 in Edmonton, Alberta, after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for several years, according to his son. Hirabayashi’s former wife, Esther, died hours later at a different medical facility in Edmonton. Hirabayashi was cremated, and a Quaker memorial meeting for worship is scheduled for Friday at the Edmonton Japanese Community Association.

“It’s a sad day, but I think all of us in the family are happy to see the recognition Gordon’s getting,” said his nephew, Lane Hirabayashi, a UCLA anthropologist who is co-authoring a biography of Hirabayashi with his father, Hirabayashi’s brother. “This can also be a time that people reflect on what happened. That’s really important.”

Hirabayashi resisted a government policy that treated people of Japanese descent as second-class citizens with fewer rights. He was a 24-year-old student at University of Washington when he defied an executive order from President Franklin Roosevelt that mandated an 8 p.m. curfew for all people of Japanese descent living on the West Coast. The curfew was a precursor to the roundup of 120,000 Japanese-Americans and legal residents for transportation to internment camps.

Hirabayashi, an American citizen, intentionally violated the curfew and turned himself in to the FBI. He was arrested, convicted and sentenced to serve 90 days in a prison camp in Arizona. However, the local government told him that they lacked the money to transport him there from Washington state. Intent on serving his time, Hirabayashi hitchhiked to the facility instead.

He took his 1942 challenge of World War II-era restrictions on Japanese-Americans all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark case of Hirabayashi v. United States. But in 1943, the court unanimously ruled that military necessity justified imposing an ethnicity-specific curfew. Hirabayashi served time in prison and in a work camp before being granted a pardon in 1947.

It would take until 1986 for a U.S. district judge to rule that Hirabayashi’s conviction was tainted by the U.S. government’s withholding of evidence that would have proved Japanese-Americans were not a threat. It took until 1987 for his curfew conviction to be overturned.

“He certainly instilled in me a strong belief in the values of integrity, and honesty, and justice,” said Jay Hirabayashi, his son. “And sticking up for what you believed in, guiding your life by principles of respect for all kinds of people regardless of race or beliefs or religion, or sexual orientation. He was totally an enlightened man in that way.”

In 1944, he married his girlfriend Esther Schmoe, who was white, shortly before serving a one-year prison term for resisting the military draft. A devout Quaker, Hirabayashi had earlier registered as a conscientious objector, citing his pacifist beliefs. But when the military asked him and other draft-eligible Japanese-American men to sign a discriminatory pledge forswearing allegiance to the Japanese emperor – to whom, as U.S. citizens, they had never had allegiance to in the first place – Hirabayashi refused. His twin daughters were born while he was in jail.

After being released, Hirabayashi went on to earn his Ph. D. in sociology at the University of Washington, and taught at American University of Beirut and the American University of Cairo before moving to the University of Alberta in Canada in 1959. He remained there, eventually becoming a department chairman before his retirement in 1983. Much of Hirabayashi’s professional work focused on minorities and their integration as well as social change in the Middle East.

“He was a great lecturer, so whenever I did something wrong, like get in trouble with school – he was a pacifist, so he never used any physical punishment, it was all words,” Jay Hirabayashi said. “He’d lecture me, sometimes for hours. In the beginning I’d be sullen and angry, but after a few hours I’d be in total agreement with him.”

In addition to his son and nephew, Gordon Hirabayashi is survived by his wife, Susan Carnahan, daughters Sharon Yuen and Marion Oldenburg, all from his marriage to Esther, brother James, sister Esther, also known as Tosh Furugori, nine grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

In telling his story to researcher Peter Irons, in the book “The Courage of their Convictions: Sixteen Americans Who Fought Their Way to the Supreme Court,” Hirabayashi said the 1980s re-trials were a form of vindication.

“When my case was before the Supreme Court in 1943, I fully expected that as a citizen the Constitution would protect me,” Hirabayashi said. “Surprisingly, even though I lost, I did not abandon my beliefs and values. And I never look at my case as just my own, or just as a Japanese American case. It is an American case, with principles that affect the fundamental human rights of all Americans.”

Thank you Gordon Hirabayashi! Without you, there would never have been an public apology and restitution to those who were wrongfully relocated during WWII (INCLUDING MY MOM!!) just for being of Japanese descent!

To examine any of these picture or chapter books depicting the Japanese American Internment more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.


Deborah Jiang Stein: A Life Turned Around From Fractured Beginnings and The Un-Prison Project.

Deborah Jiang Stein The UnPrison Project JadeLuckClub Celebrating the road less traveled by Asian Americans Creativity Notable Asian Americans with drug addiction problemsDeborah Jiang Stein is not an example that your parents ever gave when they went on and on when you were growing up. Oh sure, you’ve heard stories of every child known to your parents who got into Harvard, went to Johns Hopkins Medical School, and/or won the Academic Decathlon. True, your parents might not have known Deborah, but even if they did, they would have talked in hushed tones about her and said things about her like:

“No good.”

“Stay away.”

“Her mother was in jail! She was born in a jail!


But now they would be proud to claim her as their own. They would say:

“Why can’t you be more like Deborah? She climbed out from under and look, she’s making a difference.”


But that doesn’t even begin to describe her. There needs to be a category created for “Prominent Asian Americans Born In Jail.” It is a short list. I know, I googled this and nothing came up.

“From a gene pool that’s done a lot of crime, time, and drugs, with an upbringing in the fine arts. I live between both worlds.”


She wants you to send her to jail where she’s started The Un-Prison Project, a  project which focuses on the 1.7 million children who have a parent in jail. Please watch her video, and if moved, please donate here.

p.s. She’s also a writer.  I can’t wait to read her books when they come out!