Progress Report: FDR Fellow and Goldman Scholar Gina Kim in Korea

At the Ministry of Justice with Mi-Young Ahn, the Chief Prosecutor of the Human Rights Policy Division.

This post FDR Global Fellow and Lillian Goldman Scholar Gina Kim reports in from Korea — MDW


My first few weeks in Seoul have been incredible in more ways than one. First and foremost, despite initial challenges securing interviews in Korea, I was able to utilize family connections to obtain diverse and fantastic contacts. One highlight was having the chance to go to the Ministry of Justice (the equivalent of the U.S. Department of Justice) to interview the Chief Prosecutor of the Human Rights Policy Division. Not only was her interview incredibly helpful, she also had her staff prepare literature on human trafficking in South Korea for me to take back. Having the opportunity to actually come to East Asia to research on the ground has been very rewarding. I am learning so much more from independent research than I did from classes and books. I have a new-found appreciation for this fight against human trafficking that so many amazing people are engaged in. I am also learning to appreciate the huge challenges of conducting independent research, particularly on a topic as controversial and nuanced as human trafficking policy changes.

So, what drives human trafficking policy changes? Is it NGOs, the media, political will, or foreign pressure? The easy answer is that it is all of the above factors. However, one thing I have discovered is that the way the issue is framed and the word choice used is incredibly important for the creation of policy changes. My interviews have suggested that details such as the type of trafficking (e.g. labor trafficking, sex trafficking), a victim’s gender, or nationality can be crucial to the popularity of a news article or the viability of a policy change. For example, in South Korea, combatting human trafficking becomes much more politically contentious when it is in regards to North Korean refugees.

Culinary delights high above Soeul

Culinary delights high above Seoul

On a lighter note, Seoul is the coolest city I have ever been to. It is so modern and efficient on one hand, but on the other, it is not difficult to find ancient history and culture. Seoul is also very convenient in that there are so many places to eat, shop, and hang out. It feels like such a big city not only in population, but also in area–it almost seems to me like there is a different metropolitan city at each subway stop. Overall, I am having a wonderful experience in Seoul.

The Real Gentleman’s C

If you google the term “gentleman’s C,” chances are you’ll come up with some version of: “a grade given by certain schools (often Ivy League) to the children of wealthy or influential families in lieu of a failing grade” — that’s certainly what I always thought the term meant. But in FDR’s day, the meaning of a “gentleman’s C” was entirely different. A “C” was the grade a gentleman aspired to, so as not to seem too interested in studies and be considered a “grind.”

A 1909 verse by Robert Grant, ’73, LL.B. 1879, explains this neatly:

The able-bodied C man! He sails swimmingly along.
His philosophy is rosy as a skylark’s matin song.
The light of his ambition is respectably to pass,
And to hold a firm position in the middle of his class.

Should you try to hard, you became the stuff of parody, as the “The Grind’s Song” from the 1902 Hasty Pudding Show HI.KA.YA reveals:

I’m a typical College grind,
I look it, you’ll admit, you’ll admit, you’ll admit

You’ve heard it’s a grind to be a grind
Not a bit, not a bit, not a bit!
Just the opposite!
Don’t let my words belie my looks
My happiness is in my books

I love to work, I hate to play
For me life’s simply the other way
Don’t enlist your sympathy, I’m as happy as can be,
For to read my Latin Grammar is life in Arcadie!

To document how much things have changed, I thought you might be interested in seeing the study cards of FDR and Lathrop, president and congressman of the United States, respectively. We’ve recently received copies from the Archives, and will reproduce them for viewing in the Suite.  The upper right hand corner reveals their entrance examination results, and year by year grades proceed from left to right across the bottom.

Click on each to view them full scale.


UAIII_15_75_10_F_Box_7_Brown_Lathrop UAIII_15_75_10_F_Box_7_Roosevelt_Franklin

As you can see, both FDR and Lathrop (especially Lathrop!) eschewed any possibility of being viewed as a grind! I find this fascinating, not only because it reveals a student ethos so foreign to the current one, but also because it shows the level of grade inflation since the Vietnam War when most universities across the country, including Harvard, felt the pressure of keeping students from falling below a B average and thereby opening them up to the draft. The result was a rapid escalation of grades, to the point where the average grade at Harvard is now -A. (One of our undergraduates recently made the suggestion during a Suite tour that there hadn’t been grade inflation at all, rather that the current students were just smarter, which left me and several of my peers a moment to wonder at the folly of youth.)

On an entirely different subject, today is the last day of the fiscal year, and our coffers are looking uncomfortably bare, given the roster of programming we have planned for the next academic year. I’d like to urge any of you who have been thinking about making a contribution to the numerous activities of the Foundation, that now is time to so! It’s quick, secure and takes only a few seconds online.

Donate $$ to the FDR Foundation for Free When Using Amazon

When you shop on Amazon, please consider supporting the activities of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Foundation. You can find more information HERE, but essentially most purchases on Amazon will generate a .5% donation to the charity you select. Best of all, it’s totally free. Just search for the FDR Suite Foundation, Inc. when prompted to name your charity. And thank you!

“The Only Way to Have a Friend Is To Be One”

This summer, I’ve asked our Franklin Delano Roosevelt Fellows to check in periodically to let us know how they are doing. Here’s the first report, from Amanda Hess, in Kenya: MDW


Amanda with the elders of the village.

So far this trip has been absolutely incredible! The classes and educational aspect of this experience are exceptional but it’s the Kenyan people who’ve made it so profound for me. I’m working with a community based organization called St. Ann’s. They represent a small village about 45 minutes outside of town. This little community has been nearly devastated from HIV/Aids, an annual cholera outbreak from nearly nonexistent water sanitation, and a generalized poverty which has it’s grip on every home I’ve visited so far.

SAM_0194I’m working closely with the matriarch of this village,  Lorane. She is a widowed superwoman. After 5 children, the youngest suffering from a mental disability which prevents him from being able to speak, HIV killed her husband. She’s poured herself not only into her family (all of her capable children have either gone to or are in college) but also her community. She’s begun a micro lending program for the grandmothers of their village and she lead the plea for the installation of a water kiosk, which will provide everyone with clean drinking water.

My project is to offer this community with something sustainable that will lead to their betterment and a heightened quality of life with the fewest unintended negative consequences as possible. At first, this was a bit daunting. However, I believe that I’ve devised a program that will actually make a substantial difference for these beautiful people.

Because of the HIV/Aids pandemic about 97 children have been orphaned as a result. Most often these children have no family members who are either close enough in proximity to take care of them or they are too impoverished to offer them anything that would make much of a difference. Also, because these deceased parents were usually unable to work in the last year to several months of their life they’ve left their children with no inheritance. So, the eldest of the siblings is responsible for taking care of the younger children. (Often times the eldest is a boy and there is a huge cultural stigma against men rearing children and this has posed to be an unusual barrier in their advancing within society.)

SAM_0156My program will be a joint micro-lending/mentorship program geared towards supporting these eldest orphan children who have nothing but are still expected to provide for their siblings. These children will be paired with a mentor; someone from the community who is trustworthy and also a business owner. this mentor will act as a co-signer for a micro loan from Kiva (we’ve already begun the process for setting them up with profiles) that will be awarded to our young entrepreneurs once they have devised a business plan with the help of myself and their mentor. (Training will also include basic personal finance management and accounting.) The mentors will work closely with their apprentices to establish the business and repay the loan. As incentive for our mentors, once the loan is repaid and the business has stabilized (making an average daily living wage for the child and the child’s family) the mentor will receive %10 of the profits and will continue to aid the child with their accounting, savings, and finding and maintaining healthy business relationships with clientele. The %10 is also reason for the mentor to do everything possible to make sure the business is thriving because the better the business dose, the higher that %10 will be.

The mentor/apprentice pair will report bi-weekly to the community board. This includes the chair members of St. Ann’s as well as the Chief of the village. During these meetings the progress of the business will be reported and if any obstacles or problems have arisen the board will offer advice and assistance whenever necessary. Board members will also be given the authority to “check in” on the pairs whenever they like, similar to a health inspector, as a way to ensure the child’s protection from any sort of corruption.

The chief has volunteered to serve as a mentor to the mentors. They will have a monthly meeting to make sure everything is running smoothly and to offer one another ideas, advice, and potentially partner whenever possible. Once our young entrepreneurs are capable of running their business on their own (something that will be determined by the board and the child) they will take over 100% of the profits.

The community is incredibly excited to get started and I am so thrilled that they’ve been so receptive to my plan. Next week we’ll be pairing our mentors with the children. (On average these kids are around 16)

Thank you again for your support and I’ll be sure to send updates as the program develops!

Ah, The Fly at Last! Or, There and Back Again, A Tale of Retraction

A while back one of our Adams alums, Rick Porteus ’78, who also happens to be the Vice President of the Fly Club Board of Directors, had written to me kindly noting that perhaps it was time to pay a little more attention to the club FDR actually joined, rather than the club he didn’t. Fair enough. And to back up that sentiment, Rick invited a number of us to dinner the night before historian Geoffrey Ward’s lecture. It was a grand affair, made all the more pleasant by the company of Geoff, who sat fireside where FDR surely had, regaling us with fascinating bit of Roosevelt legend and lore. The Club also presented the Foundation with a lovely framed photo of FDR and his Fly Brothers from 1904. This visit got me thinking more and more about FDR and the Fly, and our quest to acquire a Fly Club medal, which coincided nicely with renewed interest at the Fly in its own history. FDR had played a prominent role there: he was club librarian, and eventually sent three sons to the Fly as well.


The Fly Club Exterior. The interior is remarkably preserved and looks much as it did in FDR’s time, especially the library.

Meanwhile, you may remember that recently—after a great search—we  found a Porcellian Club medal for Lathrop. Now precisely why we ever thought that Lathrop was a member of the Porcellian is entirely murky. Lathrop’s descendants certainly thought so, having remembered reading it somewhere. I did, too—the part about one roommate getting into the Porcellian and the other getting his dreams crushed (FDR was still smarting 20 years later) has become a potent element of our narrative concerning these two men. How wonderful of them, I always thought, to have overcome what might have proved to be a large obstacle to their continuing friendship.

So, sparked by our visit, we renewed our efforts to find a Fly Club medal for poor old FDR. We’d been looking for a while, but this hunt was complicated. The Fly was originally part of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity, which was founded at Hamilton College in 1832. Long story short: the Fly seceded not once, but twice from the national chapter, and was in the process of wrapping up this divorce just when FDR was active in the club. These days the Fly sports a leopard rampant on its crest, but previously it had been the star and crescent of the Alpha Delta Phi, which is what FDR would have possessed.

Then enter Elisha Lee ’80, who had come across my postings online, and who as a former collector of Harvard medals—exonumia for those in the know—pointed out to me several facts I had not been aware of, namely that the club medals were generally worn with their club color ribbons, not their class colors as we were showing in the Suite, and suggested several possible venues where I might locate a Fly Club medal. But which medal?

Thus one afternoon while I was stuck on the phone on what seemed an interminable hold, I dashed off a note to Bob Clark at the FDR Presidential Library asking him if perchance they had any Fly Club or Alpha Delta Phi medals in the Museum collection. It was a small chance, but I was banking on two well known facts: FDR almost never threw anything away; and that FDR had maintained an active relationship with the Fly for the rest of his life, even returning to Cambridge as president for Fly events. And sure enough, the Museum did indeed have an Alpha Delta Phi “medal,” inscribed with FDR’s name and class year, sill perfectly preserved in its leather box. Within seconds I was on eBay, looking; and miraculously, there was a vendor with a 1904 “medal” for sale.


The Fly Club Pin, Much Enlarged!

Hurrah! But wait: after triumphantly announcing my news, Elisha wrote back to me pointing out that this was the Fly pin, not the medal—a fact that became totally obvious when this tiny, tiny, tiny little box arrived in the mail to reveal a pin the size of my small fingernail. In all fairness, the picture at left was the one I viewed online, never reading the measurements. Caveat emptor! So foiled again! Well, partially: the pin is quite nice, enamel and gold, but oh, ever so small and expensive at $230! (Broad hint for a donor.) But FDR did have one, so it’s absolutely correct.

Ah, but the story gets even better! Elisha also produced the 1907 Fly Club member rolls, and who’s name should appear but Lathrop Brown’s? Uh-oh… A quick search of the FDR bios on hand reveal no mention of our remembered Porcellian association. Uh-ho, Uh-ho. Then a check of the Porcellian records reveals no Lathrop. Big uh-oh. Finally, Rick Porteus chimes in to say they have just received back from the book binder the club minutes from that precise period, and sure enough, Lathrop was not only a member, but also secretary and briefly president! His brother Archie (elder by a year) was also a member, as would be his younger brother Charles in a few years. In fact, Lathrop was a member before FDR, and he and Archie would have voted on FDR’s election.

Fly 2; Porcellian 0.

All this to say that we have been barking up the wrong tree. Howling might be more apt, and it goes to show what happens in history when facts aren’t thoroughly checked: if you repeat a lie often enough, Goebbels once said, it becomes the truth, or in this case, the accepted truth, however erroneous.

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 12.45.12 PMThere is still one missing piece to this whole Porcellian-Fly Club biz, which Rick Porteus has promised to check on. Originally, there were only two “final” clubs, the A.D and the Porc, so called because they were the terminal points of the club system. You could only join one. All the others were “waiting” clubs, the Edwardian equivalent of circling the airport, waiting to land. One by one, however, these waiting clubs voted themselves final during this period. Precisely when this occurred at the Fly is still being researched. The only reason this matters is that it rewrites the narrative in a rather potent way: instead of some variant of the oft-used phrase “FDR was forced to settle for the less prestigious Fly,” which occurs in almost every FDR bio, the tale should possibly read “FDR chose the Fly with his Groton chum and roommate Lathrop Brown, but was foiled in his attempt to advance to the Porcellian.” Or, “FDR failed to get into the Porcellian and at the urging of his roommate Lathrop Brown, decided to join the Fly.”

We’ll see how this falls out. Either way it’s not quite the listless casting about portrayed in the history books; it makes great sense that these two life-long friends would have gone to the same club.

These revelations, however, put us in a real bind, because now we need not one but TWO very rare silver medals that look like the one above. If seen, please contact immediately! In the meantime, nostra culpa.




We’re Changing Our Name!

I’m pleased to announce that as of the 1st of May 2014, the Foundation will be changing its legal name from the FDR Suite Foundation to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Foundation. This will generally be followed in print and online by the descriptive “at Adams House, Harvard College.”

In the six years since our founding, the mission of the Foundation has grown exponentially, and we decided it was time for our name to reflect these new fields of endeavor. The new Foundation will be comprised of three linked departments:

The Suite Museum & Historical Collections division will manage the day-to-day running of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Suite in Westmorly Hall and maintain the Suite’s collection of almost 2000 pieces of FDR and Harvard memorabilia. In addition, the Suite will continue to sponsor the annual FDR Memorial Lecture, lead Harvard Alumni Association historic tours, and host other cultural events to promote awareness of FDR, Adams House and Harvard College history.

The FDR Global Citizenship Program assumes charge of our non-historical undergraduate and alumni educational programs, including the FDR Global Fellowship, which each year awards summer grants to undergraduates whose international research in the sciences or humanities embodies FDR’s admonition that “that the only way to have a friend is to be one.”

The Foundation’s newest division, the FDR Center for Global Engagement, plans to honor FDR’s legacy by working with practitioners of international relations, global innovation, and public diplomacy on research and programs aimed at understanding and adjusting to the challenges of the 21st century. Jed Willard ’96 of the Harvard Kennedy School has kindly agreed to come on board to lead these endeavors as the Center’s first Director.

Heady times indeed, and all thanks to the continuing support of people like you.