Within Korean society there are mixed Koreans known as "Amerasians." The Amerasians are the legacies of wars in the East and Southeast Asia, where U.S. Forces have been stationed since World War II. The term "Amerasian" in this writing is specifically focused on those left behind by their American fathers, primarily U.S. servicemen.
Due to Korea’s presumed homogeneous history, combined with a very strong sense of nationalism, Korean society has yet to embrace Amerasians into its fold. Recent anti-American sentiments have not helped this matter. Seen as "fatherless" and "mixed blood," many Amerasian feel alienated and orphaned by the communities in which they live. Experiences with discrimination, and the resulting consequences of low socioeconomic status, have created difficult conditions for Amerasians. In school, ostracism has made many Amerasian students perform below average and dropout rates are high. The place of learning was not safe or nurturing for many Amerasians. Continuous ridicule and teasing have affected many Amerasians’ sense of self, as many suffer from low self-esteem.
Knowing all too well what Amerasian children experience in Korean schools, Rev. James Kang-McCann, an Amerasian himself, decided to start a special school for Amerasian children. Through the generous support of the Alliance Holiness Church of Chicago (Rev. Kang-McCann’s home church in the US) and a foundation called Missions for Amerasian Children of Korea (MACK), Rev. Kang-McCann was able to start a school in 1999, where he serves as principal.
The First Methodist Church of Dongducheon provided the facility. One office and two classrooms were provided for ACA at the church. On September 6, 1999, with nine students, Amerasian Christian Academy had its first day of school. From this first day, ACA used English as the main mode of communication and teaching and a US based curriculum. By using English as the primary language in the school, the aim was to give the Amerasian students an "edge" over others in Korea, as bilingual fluency in English and Korean is viewed as a valuable tool and asset in Korean society.
There at the First Methodist Church of Dongducheon, ACA grew as a school and community-base. Because ACA’s institutional structure and curriculum was English and US based, American servicemen’s dependents started attending ACA. In June of 2003, ACA’s student body increased to forty students. ACA was using all of the church’s first floor classrooms. The church could no longer accommodate ACA’s growth, so it moved into the Shalom House, a U. S. Servicemen’s Center, which had bigger facility and was nearer to the military installation than the church.
Since the first day of school in 1999, ACA has changed in many ways. The biggest change is that it is more of an international school now representing ten different nationalities with over a hundred students. ACA has not lost touch with its main purpose, as it continues to focus on Amerasians. As part of this, ACA offers scholarship programs for Amerasian students. Empowering the Amerasian population through English education is a life-long process. At ACA, Amerasian students have benefited from studying with students from different background and diverse cultures.
ACA will continue to meet the needs of Amerasian children through the methods of holistic education. Until Amerasian students are accepted by Korean society for who they really are, human, Korean and citizens of the world, ACA’s educational endeavor will continue. ACA believes that a day will come when ACA graduates will contribute to Korean society and the betterment of our world in many wonderful ways. Until then, ACA’s educational endeavor will continue.