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Title: Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga Interview II
Narrator: Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Torrance, California
Date: July 7, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-haiko-03-0009

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TI: Do you recall your parents ever, or other relatives talking about Japanese and what that meant in a prideful way about being Japanese?

AH: Gee, I don't think... because of my language barrier that we experienced, I don't think we ever talked about that. It might have helped.

TI: Or maybe certain expectations that because you're Japanese, you should act a certain way?

AH: Oh, definitely. That was, that was understood. First, you don't bring shame to your family, next, you don't bring shame to the relatives, and then to the community, Japanese American community. Because it's hard enough as it is, so you got to be the best you can in whatever field you like in school, or sport or whatever it is. You've got to be the best you can so you won't be made fun of.

TI: And how did those values come through? How do you find out that you're supposed to be the best you can be, you don't bring shame? How does that happen?

AH: Well, a little thing like a report card. Fortunately, I always got pretty good grades, so my father would be very pleased. And in terms of, say, citizenship, which is one of the subjects -- not subjects, but one of the characteristics of a student that shows up on a report card. All the Japanese Americans almost always had 'A's, because they toed the line. We were taught instinctively to respect authority, which meant teachers, doctors, policemen. And so... especially teachers. And my father was an education nut. He just felt that this country had so much to offer in terms of education, whether or not you're going to get a good job afterwards, but still, you had the opportunity to get educated. So he prized the school and educational system very strongly. So he was on top of us when it came to schoolwork. But just by not having conversations, but through a process of osmosis, we got these feelings of, "Don't bring shame," "Be good in what you do." Never said, "Be proud you're Japanese." I don't think that was ever pushed in my family. I think he just said, "You have to endure whatever it is," just unspoken.

TI: Okay, good.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.