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Chul Schwanke

Chul Schwanke

African-American and Korean adoptee. Former professional football player. Psychologist.

Born: Pusan, United States
Heritage: African-American and Korean

Persevere—don’t give up. Take advantage of those people who want to help you.  Be leery of those folks who don’t necessarily want to help you. School is the one thing people cant take away from you. The last word I would say is to be nice to people, be kind to people.

Chul Schwanke

African-American and Korean adoptee. Former professional football player. Psychologist.

My name is Chul Schwanke.  I’m African-American and Korean if you were wondering. I was born in 1963 in a little town called Pusan. I grew up in Pusan until I was seven.  The first seven years of my life I just know from what people have told me. Pouson is a little town in Korea where there was a U.S. Army base nearby.  My father was a soldier and my mother was Korean. That’s how I came to be 47 years ago.  I was not pure Korean, I was mixed, so I was treated differently than if I would have been a full-blooded Korean.

I was adopted when I was seven by a German family in Hutchinson.  I believe I came to the United States on May 3rd of 1970.  I was adopted by two teachers.  My dad taught history and my mom taught math. Hutchinson is not a very diverse town at all.  I always used to joke around that you could pick me out of a school yearbook by just going through and looking for the spot.  And that would be me.

Growing up in Hutchinson had its benefits, but it also had its points when it wasn’t too fun.  I would either have friends that really liked me, or people that really hated me.  There was not a whole lot of people in the middle ground.  I had to look out for those kids who would bully me because I was different.  Because I looked different, my hair was different.

In the 8th or 9th grade I started participating in sports and subsequently part of the bullying stopped.  A lot of that acceptance that I didn’t get from just being who I was, I would get that acceptance from excelling in sports.

I was the all-state football player when I was a senior, and then went to South Dakota on a football scholarship.  Football was the only sport I played while I was in college.  When you picture Vermillion, South Dakota, you wouldn’t think that would be a place where you would see a whole lot of diversity, but that’s probably the place where I saw the most amount of diversity.  There’s a large Native American population and it had connections through recruiting, so a lot of football players came from Minneapolis, Omaha, Sioux Falls, and Florida of all places.  It was very enlightening and I’m happy that I did find that in Vermillion.

After, I was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams.  That summer I went out to Fullerton California to experience my first football camp.  I did not make the team, but the next year I signed a free agent contract with Cincinnati, when the Bengals were actually pretty good.  But, after that, I didn’t make the team and that was the end of my football playing.  I went back to school and finished up with a psychology degree.

When I started working for Minneapolis in 1998 I was a social worker. I was working with students who had been recommended for expulsion finding placements for the rest of the school year.  If you did something really serious to get you suspended or expelled you will most likely be working with me.

I don’t have any kids, but I do have 11 birds and three dogs.  I never intended to have eleven birds, just wanted to have one.  And then one became two and two became four and four became six, seven, eight, nine.  It’s sort of like potato chips, you can’t have just one.


My Name

Honoring Chul Schwanke

My Name
(Honoring Chul Schwanke)

What to do and what to see
So much opportunity
Go to school get your degree
We are born to be free
My name. . . talkin’ about my name

My name is a funky name.
My name is a messed up name
My name is Korean
My name it is German
My name… talkin’ about my name

I’m African-American and Korean
I was born in Pusan
lived there ‘til I was seven
Then moved to Hutchinson
when I was adopted
By two teachers who were German
My name… talkin’ about my name

When I came to the U.S.
started kindergarten
I did not know how to speak English
You could pick me out
in a yearbook by looking
For the spot in that white town
way out in the boonies
My name. . . talkin’ about my name

When I was growing up
people either liked me
Or hated me with few in the middle
Thankfully I had friends
who would protect me
From the kids who didn’t like
my hair or skin color
My name… talkin’ about my name
Became all-state
when I played football
Then got a scholarship to Vermillion South Dakota State
With a population
Of students from
First and Second Nations
My name… talkin’ about my name

After signed up with
the Cincinnati Bengals
Then went to undergrad
for my education
In Psychology to be a social worker
Working with all of you
right here at Sanford
My name…talkin’ about my name

Music by Larry Long. Words by Larry Long with Kate Martin’s 7th Grade Class. Sanford Middle School.
Minneapolis, Minnesota.

© Larry Long 2011 / BMI