The March First Movement, or the Samil Movement, was one of the earliest displays of Korean independence movements during the Japanese occupation of Korea. The name refers to an event that occurred on March 1st 1919, hence the movement’s name (literally meaning “Three-One Movement” in Korean). This is one of the holidays that is largely remembered and celebrated throughout the nation on March 1st. Tapgol Park is historically important as the site of the origin of the March 1st Movement in 1919, an important part of the Korean independence movement as the first location for the reading of the Declaration of Independence. There are many statues and monuments in the park. It is a great place to visit and learn about the history of Korea.
The first delegation, who arrived the week of October 10th, was comprised of Mr. Joo (the Chairman of the SWS board), Mr. Chang (SWS President), and Ms. Sun (Director of International Adoptions). In addition to a variety of meetings and workshops, a highlight of this visit was the opportunity for SWS staff to meet some of our adoptive families and children —some of whom expanded their families through Korean adoption in the last year, and others who did so more than 30 years ago. The small group gathering provided the opportunity for unstructured conversation and storytelling; a larger reception took place later in that evening, giving the SWS delegation the chance to see many more families formed through their work.
At the end of the October we welcomed our second group of SWS visitors—social worker, Ms. Park, and two foster mothers, Mrs. Shin and Mrs. Ji, who have both been caring for SWS babies in their homes for over 13 years. All 3 women were in New York for the first time and were excited to be here and see the sights, but it was clear, from the moment they stepped off the plane, that their primary focus was reconnecting with the babies they had cared and planned for during the time they were in SWS’s custody, before they joined their adoptive families.
On Sunday October 23rd Mrs. Shin, Mrs. Ji and Ms. Park attended the annual “Spooktacular” event put on by Spence-Chapin’s parent group Long Island Families Together (LIFT). Families traveled from far and wide—from as far away as Virginia and Syracuse!—to reunite with the women who loved and cared for their children before they joined their families. It was incredibly touching to see how Mrs. Shin and Mrs. Ji remembered each child as if they had parted just yesterday. Mrs. Shin was overjoyed to reunite with her most recent charge who left her home just 5 months ago, as well as with the first child she ever cared for—now a 13 year old young man. This was an emotional and moving experience for all involved—certainly for the foster mothers and social worker from Korea, and also for the families and the children old enough to understand who they were reconnecting with on that day.
Spence-Chapin staff was honored to be involved with this event; other adoptive families and even total strangers looked on, aware that they were witnessing something truly special.
This weekend – April 23 through April 25 – Spence-Chapin will host a family gathering to mark 35 years of adoption from South Korea, its partnership with the Social Welfare Society (SWS); and finding permanent families for more than 2,600 infants and children. To read about the history of Spence-Chapin’s program, click here.