Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Alfred "Al" Miyagishima Interview
Narrator: Alfred "Al" Miyagishima
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Denver, Colorado
Date: May 13, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-malfred-01-0018

<Begin Segment 18>

TI: Well, and you mentioned when you first got there, school had already started. Tell me about school. What was school like at Gila River?

AM: Well, school life was, here we go, making new friends again, because you didn't know anybody. You might know somebody from French Camp or somebody in your own block. But you learned how to make new friends again, and I remember I took Spanish for two years, I was president of the Spanish Club. And the first time I ever ate a taco, first time I ever ate a tamale. We had a schoolteacher that lived in, in Chandler or someplace, adjoining town, and he introduced us to some of the Mexican food, tacos. He never brought us any tamales but he showed us, you know, brought us tacos, tamales -- sorry, tortillas. And corn tortillas, flour tortillas, beans, one time he brought some chili and some beans, and we had a little feast there. And just a sample, you know, but he showed us what those were. Most of us, some of those people from California were already introduced to that stuff, but people from northern California weren't introduced to tacos or anything like that yet. So that was quite an experience.

TI: And so tell me about the teachers and the quality of teaching in Gila River. How would you describe that?

AM: We had, I know my math teacher was Japanese, and my science teacher was Japanese. My Spanish teacher, his name was De Leon, he was Spanish. Biology teacher was Montgomery, she was Anglo. I had an English teacher, she was Anglo. Our coaches, physical education, they were all Anglos, but there were a few Japanese, qualified people that were teaching. But the teachers made, what, sixteen dollars a month or something like that.

TI: The Japanese teachers did?

AM: Yes.

TI: And so what, how would you rate the quality of the teaching?

AM: Well, I think some of those, I think most of those Japanese teachers had taught before. They weren't... I know our geometry teacher, math teacher, Nikaido, he had teaching experience. And I think our science teacher had experience, too, but as to what extent, I really don't know.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.