Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Atsumi Ozawa Interview
Narrator: Atsumi Ozawa
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Skokie, Illinois
Date: June 17, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-oatsumi-01-0015

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: Well, now that you're staying in the United States, when did you decide to learn English? Because in Crystal City, it sounds like you're just Japanese and Spanish, but now you speak English.

AO: When I came to Chicago, I heard there was a school... I don't know, I think they used to call Dante School. I don't know, maybe I'm wrong, Dante School, they say. And then I went there, but it was from nine to twelve in the morning, four hours. It was a special school for adults, it was all adults. And mostly there were a lot of students, they were from Japan, they called Kibei. You know Kibei? They were most all Kibei.

TI: But it was to learn English?

AO: To learn English. And I went to the school, too.

TI: So this was going to be your third language. Most people, they try to learn two languages, but you knew Spanish, Japanese and now English.

AO: But we have to learn English, of course, being here. So I went there, but it was, I think it started from nine to twelve, but I needed a job, so I found there was an office that they find a job for you, but I paid twenty dollars, I think, and I found a night shift job. It was from four o'clock to twelve o'clock at night, a third shift, like. So I started working there, but I was so scared to wait for the bus all by myself, nobody around, you know. And getting in the bus, there was hardly anybody in the bus, maybe three or four people. And waiting in the bus all by myself was so scary. But I think I must have did that maybe for a couple of months or so, and I changed to the first shift because it was just...

TI: Yeah, the night was probably...

AO: Yeah, uh-huh. And we used to live in, it wasn't too nice of a neighborhood, either. It was Sedgewick and Division. Sedgewick and Division. So it wasn't too nice of a neighborhood.

TI: So, Atsumi, I want to go back a little bit, when you're at Crystal City, when your mother decided to stay, not to go to Japan, did she ever talk about the possibility of going to Peru? Because you had two sisters who were married in Peru, did she ever think about maybe going back to Peru?

AO: They didn't allow us, the Peruvian government, they didn't want any Japanese to come back.

TI: Oh, so that wasn't even a choice? You couldn't even go back to Peru?

AO: No. But there were some, I don't know, seven families, they went back, but I don't know how they did it. They must have spent a lot of money, or I don't know how, but they went back. Seven families, I think. I don't think we could go back.

TI: But even though you and --

AO: I probably...

TI: -- you and your sisters were born in Peru?

AO: Yeah, maybe we could have, but not my mom and my grandmother.

TI: And do you know why the Peruvian government said no to no Japanese coming back?

AO: I think they didn't want any more Japanese.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.