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Mercer Island Reporter
Mercer Island, Washington
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April 20, 1994     Mercer Island Reporter
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April 20, 1994
 

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hdercer Island They’re the . class of N CL Their commitment’s been “pretty remarkable,” says Bar- bara Davidson, who, along with Marilyn Kremen, is senior class adviser for the Evergreen Chap— ter of the National Charity League. The philanthropic organiza- tion, comprised of mothers and daughters, is holding a special event to honor 11 girls, the NCL chapter’s first “graduating class.” NCL members, 6—12th grad— ers, volunteer their time throughout the Seattle and East- Linda Morgan Around the Island side areas. Some girls have worked up to 100 hours a year for organizations such as Childhaven, Northwest Harvest and Overlake Hospital. “Senior Celebration,” slated for May 1 at the Sunset Club in Seattle will be a tea dance, hon— oring Kim Cary, Karin David- son, Colleen Hazlett, Leigh Krassner, Lynne Kremen, Gina Levine, Debra Minkove, Erin Morton, Melissa Parker, Laura Sullivan and Kim Tutland. Chairmen of the event is Jo Belle Krassner. Eight grandparents in MIYFS class Joan Selvig, who’s raising her granddaughter and whose story wastold inth’é Reporter " last month, reports that the pub— licity helped attra’ct eight grand— parents in similar circumstance to a three-week class sponsored V, by Mercer Island Yout Family Services. _,: .7 , MIYFS had tried before to v get a class going, but had to ' cancel for lack of signups. Joan is hopeful that the class will lead to an ongoing support group for custodial grandparents. Island author at writers’ conference nd Island resident Jack Prelutsky, a singer and poet, will be among the speakers fea— tured at a one~day conference on writing and illustrating for chil- dren. The conference, “Your Vi— sion, Your Voice,” will be held from 8 am. to 4:30 pm. April 30, at Seattle Pacific University. Prelutsky has recently re- turned from a national tour for his collection of poetry, The Dragons are Singing Tonight. His previous collections include Something Big Has Been Here and Tyrannosaurus was a Beast. At the Conference, he’ll speak about “How to ,Write Fun- ny Poems.” 3: , The writers conference is be- ing sponsored by the Society of Children’s Bookwriters and Il— lustrators. For information,'_call Clare Meeker, an Island resig; . dent and member of the board of directors of the SCBWI, at 232-8830. Artist shows enamel paintings Island artist inifred H. Van Paasschen’s ex», it of glass enamel painting's'"3is5 currently showing at Boutique and Com- pany, 915 Bellevue Way NE. in ‘ Bellevue, until May 15. .f Her paintings are produced?" by firing a mixture of silicates," lime, borax and metal oxides“ onto metal surfaces. Kiln tem- peratures vary between 1209? ‘ and 2200 degrees. Van Paasschen has shown her work in five solo exhibits, in- cluding two in Europe. Island resident will be honored Island resident Lois Mayers will be the recipient of the Mor- ris Polack Award at the Jewish Family Service 102nd Annual Meeting May 11. Polack, a longtime Mercer Island resident and prominent philanthropist, died last year. The J FS event, which will be held at 7 pm. at the Four Sea- sons Olympic Hotel in Seattle, is dedicated to his memory. LIFESTYLE Wednesday, April 20,1994 Behind the scenes at TV talk show . MIHS grad pitches ideas, guests for TV program By Laurie McHale Mercer Island Reporter here’s a job—hunting book that college English majors used to pore over, called “Aside from Teaching English, What in the World Can You Do?” Suzanne Brahm figured out what she could do, and she went out and got the job. Suzanne, 22, graduated from the University of Washington last year with a degree in English. Practically the day she graduated, she land- ed a plum job at KIRO TV on a new afternoon talk show, Hour Forthwest, with host Ross Sha- er. One of scores of applicants for four researcher positions, she was the only one hired fresh out of college. The term “re- searcher” is somewhat of a mis- nomer: segment producer might be a more apt job title, since it entails not only coming up with topics and guests, but pitching ideas to the show’s pro- ducers, making travel and other arrangements for the guests, re— searching and highlighting ma- jor themes for the host to dis— cuss, and making sure guests are primed and ready to go on. WHILE her degree honed her writing and research skills, and while Mercer Island’s Youth Theater Northwest enhanced her presentation skills and com- fort level in front of an audi- ence, Suzanne’s three college in- ternships provided the experi— ence and the entries on her re- sume that helped her land the g job. The English degree didn’t re- quire an internship, but Suzanne took it upon herself to arrange for not one but three, starting winter quarter of her junior year. “I spent a few weeks at KISW Radio, for their morning show, Twisted Radio those guys are pretty wild! I basically did a lot of organizing for them.” The radio stint gave her en— tree to another internship the following quarter, this time in \ KOMO TV’s Public Affairs De- partment. “I, wrote public ser— vice announcements and,” she added with a smile, “I was the personal booker for the Whee- dle.” That internship led to a few weeks’ temporary work on KOMO’s assignment desk, send- ing reporters out on stories. She loved it. “I knew I really liked television. I liked the atmos— phere, the enthusiasm, the fast pace.” While most students might figure two internships were enough, Suzanne dug up one more, applying almost on a whim for an internship as a field Andrea Marchese Suzanne Brahm does some last—minute preparation before the airing of Hour Northwest. Brahm competed against many applicants for her research job. reporter at KIRO TV last spring. “The internships were the best preparation," she says. “As an intern, you have to real— ly be involved and take advan- tage of the opportunity. You have to work as least as hard as if you were being paid.” The field reporter does the legwork for the on—camera re- porter, interviewing sources in advance and producing tape to accompany the reporter’s stand— up reporting. She loved the work, and came close to getting in front of the camera herself. “For one story, I had been at a company for about two hours for a story on sexual harassment. I had talked to the president of the company, and a lot of staff. The reporter hadn’t shown! up,“ air time was approaching, and we thought I’d have to go on the air. The reporter made it at the last minute, so I didn’t get to go on.” WITH graduation approach— ing and the new show hiring, Su- zanne went after the position at Hour Northwest. One test for the job was a research project, tak- ing a sheaf of assigned reading material newspapers, news magazines — and coming up with at least four stories to pitch for a hypothetical show. She survived the last cut, and started work practically the day after graduation, one of a staff of about 18 that had just six weeks to get ready for a brand- new daily show. Visit to the Far East: Andrea March e Tanya Sylvester and Dale Sewall, next to the bulletin board at the Mercer Island Presbyterian Church. Displayed on the board are highlights of their Thailand trip. ’There are lots of ups and downs. When you’ve booked a guest that’s good, it’s a good feeling.’ —- Suzanne Brahm Where to find the guests? “It was pretty scary. These files were empty,” she said, gestur» ing to the bulging folders that now overflow her desk drawers. Everywhere she goes, in ev- erything she reads, says Su- zanne, she looks for ideas for the show. “When I go out to dinner, I check to see if the waiter is a character we might like to have on.” A newspaper story (in the Reporter) about obstetrician— cum-model Michael Greer will lead to at least one segment on the air. A chat over family Eas- ter brunch will likely produce a story about a friend’s grand— mother’s weekly walking group. She conned her goodnatured parents, Bob and Margo Brahm, into submitting to makeovers. “Suzanne is energetic, intelli- gent and curious and she can re- late to our audience,” says the show’s senior producer, Jack Beaver, also a Mercer Island resident. “She and the rest of the researchers are invaluable. How comfortable the guests are on camera is in large part de- pendent on them. They can look for the less obvious stories, and find a way for Ross to have a good time while he’s doing the show. If everyone is having a good time, the viewer is too.” IT’S VERY satisfying when a segment she has produced goes well, Suzanne says. With the change in the show’s format to one host in front of a live audi- ence, the Hour Northwest crew feels like they’re hitting their stride. “You have deadlines ev— ery day, but you get instant feedback, because you see the ratings,” Suzanne says. It helps to have an earlier time slot that’s no longer opposite “the goddess of talk-show TV,” as Suzanne calls Oprah Winfrey. Her worst moment came when a KIRO driver, who had gone to the airport to pick up two guests from California for that afternoon’s show, called to say they weren’t on the plane. “Fortunately, the show was overbooked, and we could fill in,” Suzanne recalls. “But you panic. It’s like waking up and realizing you’ve slept through a test. We do everything but fly down and put them on the air- plane, but things can still go wrong. “You’re rooting for every guest,” she admits. “There are lots of ups and downs. When you’ve booked a guest that’s good, it’s a good feeling. It’s scary when you‘re watching them and they’re bombing.” The show has matured to the point where they can be selec- tive with their guests. Suzanne spends much of her day on the phone, talking to agents, inter— viewing prospective guests to see if they have interesting sto— ries to tell. “We might get a tape from a publicist who says their client is ‘dynamic’ and ‘wonderful’ and we find out from the pre-interview that they’re tongue-tied. So we have to call back and tell the publicist that it just won’t work.” “Suzanne is very key to the success of our program,” said the show’s host, Ross Shafer. “She’s an absolute delight to be around. She’s funny, she’s ener— getic. When she has an idea, she’ll sell it and sell it and sell it, until we love it or break down from exhaustion. She’s been in- credibly flexible and adaptable as our format has changed.” What’s in the future for Su- zanne? “I set goals for myself. In two years, I should definitely decide what direction I want to go.” It comes down to deciding whether to stay behind the cam- era or pursue a career in front of it: producing or reporting. “The sky’s the limit for her,” said Shafer. “I’m a huge Su- zanne Brahm fan.” Church offers girls new hope , By Jane W. Nelson . Special to the Reporter Mii Duu is 16. She was a Bang— kok prostitute for two years —- virtually imprisoned in a brothel. “I sobbed every day. I don’t speak the language. I couldn’t get away.” Her parents, an impover- ished tribal family living in the hill country of northern Thailand where the indigenous people don’t speak Thai, had accepted money in exchange for permission for their daughter to go to the big city where, they were told, there was the promise of a job work that would return some of her small salary to help at home. They were not told the nature of the work. They didn’t realize that in fact they were selling her into a kind ‘ of sex slavery, aiding and abet- ting a prostitution business whose economy has grown so big and in— ternational that it has become an industry. Her fate might eventual— lyyhave been death ~ from AIDS — if she hadn’t found a safe house where she got education, voca- tional training and the chance for a new life. v DUU’S story is actually a com- posite of what happens to hun- dreds of girls from hill tribes — many as young as 11. It is, none— theless, very real. Duu was one of , the lucky ones. Fifteen thousand miles away a world apart —— wbere the concerns for. girls are more apt to be gender bias in the classroom and sexual harassment at school, there is help. Families at Mercer Island Presbyterian Church are reaching out to help these girls who are so at risk of being caught up in prostitution. In the weeks before Easter, Dale Sewall, pastor at MIPC, and Tanya Sylvester, volunteer Thai project coordinator, went to the Far East to evaluate the impact of the church’s interest on the various projects and to meet stu- dents and administrators. The church has focused its at- tention in two directions. In Chi» ang Rai, a city in northern Thai— land, it provides tuition, board and room for 24 hill tribe girls. When state mandated education ends after the sixth grade, young girls are expected to work to help their families. But if the family is poor, speaks only the tribal dia- lect, and is nearly illiterate, the girls are prime targets for the country’s booming sex business. Keeping them in school for three more years might get them past the age of their greatest vulnera- bility. In another city, Chiang Mai, they help support two safe houses like the one which provides shel- ter, moral support and vocational training for girls like Mii Duu who have been rescued from brothels and massage parlors. THE FIRST week the two joined fellow church member, Dr. Ernest Burgess, for a first hand look at his Prosthetics Research Foundation clinic in Hanoi. The church pays the rent so that the Foundation can continue the pro- gram of free prothetics for those in need. But the real guts of the trip for Sylvester and Sewall lay ahead. In Chiang Rai, they met with Reverend Boonsong, who acts as their liaison with the school, and with the girls and their parents. ’Sylvester said, “I was impressed with how ready they were to go to school and how grateful to be able to do something different and to get more education. I saw a lot of intelligence — a real light behind those eyes.” The Thai project, which Syl— vester says, “is really Dale’s idea,” grew out of Sewall’s desire to help Asian people in some way. “I am of the Vietnam genera- tion,” he said, “and that is part of the reason.” It was during his first trip to Thailand in 1987 that he first heard stories about the ex- ploitation of young girls for the sex tour industry there. He Was appalled. “The general issue is how girls are treated. Justice is the issue for me. It is totally un- just that an eleven year-old be sold into prostitution. It takes $200 to sponsor one girl in school for nine months, money that has been donated by individ- uals or by groups within the church, such as the Board of Dea- cons. Even Sunday School classes have participated, raising money with garage sales and car washes. But he is realistic about just how much they can do. He recognizes there is no quick fix. “We cannot do very much. We can just help 24 girls.” PROSTITUTION flourishes there for the same reason it does in other places. Women have little value and no power; poverty cre- ates susceptible victims; corrupt people take advantage for person— al financial gain. Perhaps most discouraging is the hesitation and lack of commitment from the Buddhist leadership. While the Buddhist population remains strong, the adherence to Buddhist values isnot as it once was. Sewall explains that the Bud- — Please see ‘Church’ on 66.