The Several Worlds of Pearl S. Buck: Essays Presented at a Centennial Symposium, Randolph-Macon Woman's College, March 26-28, 1992

By Elizabeth J. Lipscomb; Frances E. Webb et al. | Go to book overview

7
East/West Ties: Amerasian Children and the Work of the Pearl S. Buck Foundation

Grace C. K. Sum

I am involved with the whole world and now especially with these children, who express in their very being the philosophy which is the heart of my life and my work. I believe that humanity is one, not the same, but in its infinite variety One.

Pearl Buck spoke these words two years after she founded the foundation and four years or so after the plight of Amerasian children was thrust into her consciousness. Today we honor her by referring to her as one of the great humanitarians of the twentieth century, and to the foundation as her living legacy. Pearl Buck, however, was always reluctant to be referred to as such. To her, indignation, if it were rightful, was a call to action, and to accept responsibility in righting a wrong, when she could find no one else to assume it, was a matter of course. She was indignant that half-American children should be the lost and the poorest of the poor children in Asia, and she did something about it. It was so straightforward a matter of course because, for her, it was the culmination of her early life experiences and training and her lifelong practices of compassion and discipline.

She was approaching the last decade of her life when she was again in Japan for a few months of work on a film. The day after her arrival, she encountered on the street a child with Japanese features, but with blue eyes and brown hair. She soon found herself searching everywhere for this child and the others like him, in the street, in orphanages, in the villages and towns. It was impossible to know their number. Usually their births were not registered anywhere. Their mothers were ashamed of them. There were so many, even though many died.

A Japanese friend told her that there were many more such children in Korea, so in the same autumn, she accepted an invitation to go there so she

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