Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Frank S. Fujii Interview
Narrator: Frank S. Fujii
Interviewers: Larry Hashima (primary), Beth Kawahara (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: September 3 and 5, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-ffrank-01-0035

<Begin Segment 35>

LH: Well, what do you think that your experience in terms of being in the camps -- how did you translate that into being a teacher, and how'd that affect your -- the way you dealt with the class?

FF: I don't think it helped me in my teaching. I think it helped in my character, it helped me in my dealing with new people, I think it helped me in survival and developing sensitivities that I probably wouldn't have seen or gotten through seeing hardships through your parents. 'Cause you focus on that when... you know, when you're living a real, "the practical, natural life," if you want to call it that, you don't see the hardship that the parents go through. But when you live with that hardship, and the question marks about feelings and attitudes and -- that makes it, it magnifies it for me that, you see your mother crying in the corner of the barracks in internment camp and you kind of wonder, "How come she's crying?" I asked my sister, she said, "You dummy, she's just lonely and she doesn't feel happy here." But she won't talk of it, of course, Mom never... and if you asked a question she, she doesn't reply, and she just kind of mull over it a little bit. But she never expound on it because it's hard to talk in Japanese about a lot of the personal. She understood English to some degree, and Dad did, too, but I think it, it was hard.

But I think the whole scenario of camp and meeting new friends and all the question marks about survival -- and I like to think of it in the positive sense, too, that when all this experience makes your values, it strengthens your values as you get older and which, when I did, I think that helped me in my teaching, my decision-making, and getting along with people. And I'm forgiving in a lot of ways. I think I'm, I'm a soft touch in a lot of ways, and yet I'm strong about opinions of attitudes of people. If I don't like it, I don't tell them so, but I don't have to like them or I don't have to go along with the crowd, so to speak. So I think camp life -- and it also made me say to myself, "I'll never forget." Some might want to forget. I'm one of the Nikkei persons who will say I'll never forget the experience, because what I think it's done to my parents and what it's done psychologically to my parents and myself, and the insecurity that it's brought upon everybody in the family and, and the whole Nikkei scene, scenario. I think it's, it had to affect you. I mean, I get upset when some Niseis will talk of, "Yeah, we had a good time, we played baseball, we had good time, had dances," and you know, forgetting the fact that sensitivities of seeing the parents. I think that part, they missed the boat, they missed the sensitivity, they missed the things that build your character. I don't, if it did me, but I like to think it did. I was sensitive enough to say, "Hey, there's something wrong here," and yet you do the best you can. But don't expound on the fact that the camp is such a, was a pleasant... sure, for teenagers like myself, sure it was. But there's a lot of things that go along with hardship and loneliness, and doubt, which that, have all accumulated for the Isseis and Niseis when we came out of camp. So, but like I said, I think it's made me a better person and I think we're kidding ourselves. If you lived such a perfect life, you're not going to be sensitive normally, you're gonna expect things to go your way and so when you don't have things go your way, you make the best of it and, and you learned a lot about hardships and you could come back.

<End Segment 35> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.