S: Does Where You are Change Who You are?
BC: Everything here has been adapted from real life in the 1940's during World War II from the eyes of an average, Japanese-American, thirteen-year-old girl. | CJLD Book Publishing Company
FC: Does Where You are Change Who You are? The Okabe Generation
1: Does Where You are Change Who You are? The Okabe Generation | By Cheryl Joseph and Laryssa Demarco
2: This is Dedicated to: The Japanese families who had to suffer in the internment camps for a crime that they didn't commit. We are forever in debt to putting you all in a situation like that. This is also for the greatest English teacher on the planet, Earth, Ms. Caggiano, who helps us every day from 11:55 to 12:45 and on...
3: Let me cordially introduce myself. I'm Keiko Okabe, by the way. How did you happen to uncover my scrapbook? It could be slightly coated in dust only because it's literally a sliver of my childhood. This treasure of mine explains my life and the person I spent it with, in detail. The objects and people you are about to meet were with me through the good and the bad, the hopeful and the miserable. Enjoy this never-ending journey in my small, raggedy shoes. | I inhabited a place unspeakable by any Japanese-American today. I recall interlocking fingers with a Chinese boy who was compassionate and sweet. He was surreal, so unlike anyone I had ever met. That strange, unfamiliar place contained horse stalls draped in fine silk, a bizarre combination. You could say my childhood was filled with clashes between old and new. The only way to survive was to adapt to the startling changes. These changes were a mixture of good and bad. To the layman they'd seem tolerable, but in my eyes they were catastrophic. They forever altered my way of life...
4: Mrs. Cheryl: "Keiko is a really sweet person, and I can tell that she really cares about Henry. I bet she'd like him no matter what race he was." (Letter 2) Being white, I don't have to endure what she goes through but witness it with pity. There is a slight resemblance to Romeo and Juliet between Henry and Keiko. The irony that dominates our culture overrides democracy. I witness the mainly Caucasian lunch crowd occupying Japanese sushi bars. However in the Rainier school, the Caucasian offspring taunt the "Japs". "I cannot believe how disrespectful the clerk at the checkout counter was to Henry and Keiko when they came to buy the Oscar Holden record. If I was in Keiko's place I wouldn't have even been able to stand there, let alone talk to the cashier in a respectful manner. I was appalled (when she told me)." (Letter 4) This just gives another sense of how people were extremely rude to Japanese-American citizens. There is a lot of discrimination between various ethnic groups. It's these kinds of opinions that pollute our way of thinking. | Miss Laryssa: "Keiko...She always was fierce. I imagined her the constant smiler, the girl who made the best of everything. But the camp (Camp Harmony, ironic name,) seemed to dim her light. Why wouldn't it? She was forced to mature... (Letter 4) Keiko is both headstrong and independent. What I find interesting about her is how accepting she is about American culture. She embraces the idea of assimilation, and Henry said she seemed embarrassed she was Japanese. I beg to differ. I think she's proud to be Japanese-American." (Letter 2) | Before Rainer, I went to another school in Nihonmachi. "Scholarship" wasn't a word in my vocabulary back then. Two teachers who doted on me often was Mrs. Cheryl, of mathematics, and Miss Laryssa who instructed me in English. I was an exceptional student in both subjects. I thrived under their skills and was awarded a scholarship to Rainier school. They frequently write me to inform me of the ongoing issues of the world. Confiding in them enables me to express my feelings to someone besides Henry. I'm glad they're never sick of my ongoing chatter. Henry's the popular topic of our conversations.
5: Nihonmachi was bustling with content Japanese-American school children chattering as the scent of Domburi, cooked rice with popular toppings, sifting through the restaurant doors. Yet, the government let our way of life crumble as we were taken away to camps; there was no one to tend to the hibachi stoves and no one to eat there either. You would think that someone, anyone, would stick up for our culture. We didn't mean anyone harm. Japanese-Americans were just citizens tending to their daily chores and duties when they were shocked with a paper in the front windows of every store. These posters began, "INSTRUCTIONS TO ALL PERSONS OF JAPANESE ANCESTRY." These were informing us, the Japanese-American, to leave our lives all behind and go to an internment camp, a prison.
6: HENRY Henry defied all description. He had the uncanny ability to strike hope in whomever he spoke to. What I found strange about him was that he didn't even know of the hope he instilled into our family. He could be thought of as our savior. In a time of destruction he built up our family. He's a part of the Okabe family and legacy. You may argue that he is of enemy blood, being Chinese and all. Saying that is stooping as low as to stating that all Japanese-Americans plotted the Pearl Harbor scheme. It's unbelievable. Keiko
7: Day 135: Dear Diary, While the months chug along Henry gathers trinkets to cheer up this dreary camp. In our letters he has noted that I sound mature. Sulking in a makeshift horse stall will do that to a person. The other children at the camp don't seem to notice the way the barbed wire looms over our school. Becoming prisoners in a camp don't seem to phase them. But Henry manages to make things worthwhile with his stories of back home. I'm starting to become suspicious though. He doesn't mention anything of what has happened to Nihonmachi. I fear the worst. I must make the best of it, I guess. I am loyal to America, a country that fights for democracy but herds up their citizens like sheep. Yours Truly, Keiko
8: Dear Diary, Injustice is an overriding theme in the lives of any Japanese-American today. But throughout history, Sheldon's race has faced a brutal pounding disrespected by whites for as long as Sheldon could remember. I think that's how a loose bond between Henry and Sheldon was spurred. I have always been an outcast among white Americans, because my hair may be a darker shade or my skin paler. But aren't we all just the same? Don't we all have the same underlying hope that we will smoothly fit in? Is it a crime to be friends with a man of different colored skin? Why must Henry wear a button to announce he is Chinese? Do what people really feel superior to us, or is it just fear of our differences that drives their hostility. I must never repeat this out loud. | SHELDON
9: Day 142 Dear Diary, Mrs. Cheryl and Miss Laryssa comment on everything in my life. Having someone to talk to eases the pain of being separated from Henry. Gradually, we are growing father apart. ~Keiko
10: Day 157 Dear Diary, We are moving to a new location. My letters to Henry are growing weaker. They are only three sentences long, because nothing has changed until now. His responses are always vivid and beautiful and I can only come up with dull camp stories that hardly fascinate him. Is it time to let go? How long can the government keep us here? I’m not sure there is any home to return to anyways. In time, Henry will find someone else to spend time with, whom he won’t have to write to. And she’ll be Chinese. His parents will approve. All I can do is wish the best for him at this point in time. It seems as though I will not see him again. If so, be it. He is better off without me, an un-wanted Japanese-American. Yours Truly, Keiko
11: Day 192 Dear Diary, Something extraordinary happened this morning! Henry courageously asked my father permission to court me. I shouldn't have been so shocked, but I never in a million years would have imagined this. Henry is the epitome of a good friend, and I know he'll be a companion, husband, and soul mate. He is trustworthy, humorous, kind-hearted, and an overall sweetheart. Henry just turned thirteen three days ago. In his culture thirteen is the age at which a male becomes an adult. This is why he and Sheldon traveled together to Camp Minidoka, my temporary "home", to visit me. Henry is so brave; he didn't even ask permission from his parents to come here! When I saw Henry I was relieved. Before seeing him I felt like a part of me was missing. He then did something absolutely amazing... he kissed me on my cheek! It was so magical. I'm sad that he will be leaving soon. I will miss him deeply. Yours Truly, Keiko
12: Vocabulary | Nihonmachi = a place translated as "Japantown". Internment camp = a detention center where Japanese-Americans were moved to and confined during World War II. Discrimination = treating people differently through prejudice; this is usually because of race, age, or gender. Pearl Harbor = a place west of Honolulu, Hawaii; mostly remembered because of Japan's attack on the Pearl Harbor military base on December 7, 1941. Jazz = a type of American music that was developed from ragtime and blues with African rhythms. Nisei = Japanese-Americans who were born in the United States.
13: THANK YOU!