Densho Digital Archive
Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community Collection
Title: Angela Berry Interview
Narrator: Angela Berry
Interviewer: Frank Kitamoto
Location: Bainbridge Island, Washington
Date: February 17, 2007
Densho ID: denshovh-bangela-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

FK: Angela, I think I'd like to start off by you telling me about yourself first. You know, like where you were born, when...

AB: Okay, I was born in Seattle. I'm twenty-seven years old, so I was born in 1979 to Greg and Nina Berry. And my maternal grandparents were Felix and Cion Narte and paternal Carmen and John Berry, both longtime residents. And grew up on Bainbridge Island and spent some time away but ended up finishing school in the Seattle area and just finished up with school last June.

FK: So did you graduate from Bainbridge High School then?

AB: Yes.

FK: Went through all the...

AB: Elementary, middle school, Bainbridge High School.

FK: And then you went where to school?

AB: First went to University of San Diego, and then spent some time in Florence, Italy. And then came back to the University of Washington, finished undergrad up there. Studied in Mexico for a bit. Or didn't study. Did more of a design-build project, a program with the UW's architecture school and then went back to grad school for architecture. So I've been in Seattle last three years.

FK: How did you end up in Italy?

AB: How did I like it?

FK: No, how did you end up there?

AB: Oh, how did I end up there. Just kind of wanted to do the whole live abroad for a while. And just... I was drawn to Italy because of the language initially. I was taking some Italian in my freshman year of school. So...

FK: So did you actually go to school while you were in Italy?

AB: I did, yeah. For a year I lived in Florence and yeah, studied a lot of art and art history there. So...

FK: What made you go into architecture then?

AB: When I was in Florence actually. I took quite a bit of architecture history classes, a few drawing, sketching type classes. And, yeah, I came back to Seattle and transferred. And just, just sucked me in. So that's when I got a job working for an architect on the island.

FK: What was, what was growing up on the island like for you?

AB: I loved it. I mean, I think, in hindsight now... looking back, I cherish the memories a lot more than when I was living on the island. I felt... sometimes kids that age feel a little bit isolated and want to leave the island as soon as they can. And I definitely had that sort of itch to leave. But, now, it's such a great place to live. Well, I don't live here. It was a really unique experience, both having families around and then longtime friends that you started preschool off with. And ended up finishing high school with. It's a really unique childhood. It was a great place to live.

FK: Well what, what made you feel like it was unique, other than what you've already mentioned? Was there anything else that made you feel like it was unique?

AB: Maybe just the actual physical geography of actually living on an island, I think is very, very unique. Anytime I tell friends that I grew up on an island, it was very, kind of an intriguing idea. People would want to know if we had electricity and stuff like that. And those were mostly from students from back east or living in Europe. Didn't quite get the idea of living on an island. But, just, mostly actually family, that have been here for so long. That was definitely a factor in the unique experience growing up here.

FK: Now, has anybody ever said to you, like, what ethnicity you are because you don't look entirely white or something like that?

AB: All the time, yeah. Are you curious as to what I usually get?

FK: Uh-huh.

AB: It's either "what tribe are you from" or "what island are you from." So I get... I look native to a lot of people. Or, Hawaiian, I guess. But when I was living in Italy a lot of people thought I was either from Spain or somewhere in South America. And it's interesting 'cause my little -- you know my little sister -- we'd talk about that. And she oftentimes gets, "You must be Middle Eastern. Are you Indian or..." Some guy on the bus one day said she was from Bangladesh and he wouldn't let go of it. She kept saying no. I think he was a little bit crazy. It is kind of a weird combination to be Filipino...

FK: How do you feel when that happens?

AB: It's one of those things where you don't... I don't know. Sometimes it's a compliment. Other times people are just a little bit too... it's kind of an intense sort of interaction when someone's trying to guess what you are. And you say... or oftentimes I find myself in the situation where someone will come up and say, "You look like this." And then I say, "No, actually I'm not." And then it's, really quick, "Oh, well, let me guess what you are then." And it's kind of this awkward sort of thing. Where I don't know you, I don't do that to other people. Just a very strange sort of, I don't know... I don't really have identity issues with that, but it is kind of this awkward encounter with strangers, sometimes. And like I said, on the bus it happens quite often. So...

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.