Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Susan Hayase Interview
Narrator: Susan Hayase
Interviewer: Glen Kitayama
Location: University of California, Los Angeles
Date: September 12, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-hsusan-01-0002

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SH: Also, I think I had a very similar experience, that nobody else outside of our family seemed to know what the camps were. You know, teachers, history books and that... it was just very odd. It was a very strange, alienating experience. I went to Stanford University and when I first got information from them they asked me if I wanted to live in an Asian American dorm. And I wanted to. And my parents counseled me not to. They told me that I shouldn't hang around with other Asians, that that would get me in trouble. And I didn't... you know, a lot of these instructions were a little bit mysterious, I didn't totally understand, you know what I mean? Like I just felt like my parents were very controlling, but I acquiesced and I didn't. I was... because of my experience being so isolated, I also was one of those Asians that felt very uncomfortable around other Asians. I mean, it was so bizarre to see somebody else who was Asian, that you didn't feel normal. And I think that for people who grow up so isolated, you're always kind of wondering, "Am I a normal Asian person?" You know what I mean? You don't know if you have anything in common with these other people and you kind of suspect maybe you don't, and stuff.

And so, for two and a half or three years, I thought about, but never actually joined the Asian American Student Association at Stanford. But I think at the same time I... I realized that I had to deal with this issue. And I am very... I take some of the credit myself in that realizing that I had to deal with this. But I also feel very lucky that I had something that I could go investigate. That there was, there were organized Asian students at Stanford, and so I still remember the first Asian American Student Association meeting I went to, and I was very... I remember being so tense. I mean, it's funny, I think back now and... but I knew that I had to deal with it and I met some people there that are still friends of mine, and who... basically, my friendship with them, and being part of the Asian American Student Association at Stanford really helped me personally a lot, in terms of my whole understanding and comfort at who I was. I, through the AASA at Stanford, I became educated about things such as the Bakke decision. I was involved in the anti-Bakke decision coalition, I guess. And also with the Divestment from South Africa movement at Stanford. Those also were very interesting, because those were both movements where students of color, I think we called ourselves Third World students then. But, were really struggling to organize, create coalitions between the different nationalities and ethnicities and really play a role in the student movement. I think there were a lot of conflicts with white student leaders who felt like, students of color should kind of be there to make it multi-national but weren't that interested in, input and leadership from students of color, but... so I was there during a lot of those struggles. When I left Stanford, also, I was an engineering student. I majored in double E, which again made, put me in a very alienating situation -- [laughs] -- with the, all the white men who were engineers. But that's another whole story.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.