Whitewashed dolls

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Like the sisters in The Bluest Eye, I once destroyed a doll. It had chestnut hair and soft, large eyes. Her racial ambiguity with a Japanese name confused me, and […]

Maya

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Among Waseda students, I got to know Maya the most. Her fearlessness was the quality I envied. She’d speak her mind but sometimes a bit more than an appropriate amount, […]

Presenting kogal

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In the Gender Studies class, two senior students spoke up the most. I was initially intimidated by them, but when we split into groups, and I was included in a […]

Gender studies class

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For the first semester, I could choose two classes other than the mandatory English class for international students. I took the Chinese class for one because I hadn’t given up […]

People

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I woke up in the morning to the voice of construction workers outside. I stared at the ceiling just 2.5 feet above me and realized they were not talking in […]

Campus

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White buildings of Occidental College campus stood majestically against the blue sky. The campus was known for its beauty and often appeared in films and TV shows. The arched corridor […]

International students

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I arrived at Occidental College in mid-August. The program organizer welcomed me in the lobby of the administrative office, and I joined the rest of the Waseda students and other […]

Departure

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I left Japan with one suitcase. It was a large suitcase, but I packed unnecessary things like the books I had already read while forgetting to pack a toothbrush. My […]

How not to get shot

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In 1992, the same year that I saw videos of an African American man bludgeoned by multiple police officers and the ensuing riot in Los Angeles, a Japanese high school […]

Challenges

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There was a popular narrative among very high-minded students that you should immerse yourself in the environment in which you had no choice but to speak English because having Japanese […]