The prominent national environmental group the Natural Resources Defense Council recently named Rhea Suh its new president, reports the Korea Times.
Suh grew up in Boulder, Colorado where there were few Asians and recalls the difficulty her family had integrating into society.
“We faced a lot of prejudice no doubt about it,” she said. “We were the first non-white family to move into our neighborhood. When I was about five or six our house was vandalized, racial slurs were not uncommon to hear on the playground.”
As a result her immigrant parents made a decision to not teach their children Korean even though they both spoke it at home.
“It’s a sad story that many other Koreans of my generation have faced around the country. I have a lot of regrets about it, but also recognize that my parents had our best interests at heart. It’s truly a shame that they felt the need to make that choice.”
Suh, however, gained an appreciation for the environment being so close to the Rocky Mountains. She studied environmental science at Columbia University and most recently served five years as Assistant Secretary of the Interior.
You can read more about her thoughts about growing up Korean American and her views on the environment in the Korea Times.