Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Ryo Imamura Interview
Narrator: Ryo Imamura
Interviewers: Stephen Fugita (primary), Erin Kimura (secondary)
Location: Olympia, Washington
Date: August 3, 1999
Densho ID: denshovh-iryo-01-0034

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SF: What if we were caught up in the idea that, the cultural ideal is -- in this individualistic society -- is what I would call kind of the bowling ball personality: the good athlete, smart guy, or smart gal, whatever, good socially, good looking. And to, in a sense the backdrop is to try to be all of those. Obviously some of them you can't quite measure up sometimes. But if that's the cultural ideal, how do we get away from that? I mean, that seems kind of self-defeating. But it seems like that's the kind of person we adore: the guy who's the... or the gal who's the sorority honchos, also the athlete and the soccer team. It's the one who goes on to be a Rhode scholar, all of that stuff.

RI: Yeah, well that's true in the first half of life I think. We buy into that a lot. But I think anybody who has the older mentor can point out, "You're shy, and you wear glasses, and you play the violin, and you know, you're not on the football team. But hey, look at all these, the famous people when they grow up. They were all like you. They weren't the star athlete. They all -- they're pumping gas, maybe, or having a big letdown." They're thinking high school senior year was the high point of my life, right? Whereas for someone who's a late bloomer, it's really just a step along the way, that they're gonna enjoy their success later. And if, you can't see that when you're young. But if there's someone to point out to you that you're just, your strengths, your beauties are gonna come out over time and, in the long run, you'll be amply rewarded for that. Then I think this is very helpful. Maybe we, we could be more mentors or, or uncles and aunties to the younger people. Let 'em know the wisdom we've acquired over the years. We've all struggled with that -- never being able to join the varsity basketball team 'cause we're too short, whatever. But we found later on that it masks a lot of wonderful talents and strengths that we have. And if I knew that back then -- I don't know why -- it's hard to say. In a way the disappointment and the pain back there had a function, to make me more appreciate what I have now. And to, also when I have students who are weak in many areas, because I was the same way or felt that way, that I could be much more understanding toward the slower students and the ones that aren't very popular. And not always just gravitate towards the Mr. Football and Miss Sorority. And for them, I always kind of caution them now, the very popular ones. I said, "You have to develop something more internal too, 'cause that's not gonna last very long." And they may or may not hear that. It's hard for them to hear because they are so enjoying their success. But that means they ignore a lot of things during those years where everything came easy.

<End Segment 34> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.