UCSD Nikkei Student Union member Rena Ogino (left) and
Susanne Norton La Faver, shown here during the open mic
portion of the 2015 Manzanar At Dusk program.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: Gann Matsuda/Manzanar Committee
by Rena Ogino
The 46th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage on April 25, 2015, was my third Pilgrimage and my first with the UCSD Nikkei Student Union as a second year student. As a shin-Nisei (second generation Japanese American, the children of recent Japanese immigrants), I initially felt like a black sheep amongst Japanese American youth that are mostly Yonsei and Gosei (fourth and fifth generation Japanese Americans, respectively). But at UCSD NSU, I was able to change my perspective on our community, learn to appreciate the differences, and identify with Japanese American youth from a different, unique, and necessary viewpoint.
None of my relatives were sent to the camps in which over 110,000 Japanese Americans and their immigrant parents were unjustly incarcerated during World War II. But I understand the fear of something similar happening again to American citizens who have goals and aspirations they have every right to fulfill. Returning to Manzanar and helping to organize the 2015 Manzanar At Dusk program reminded me of how our community is currently healing and learning from the Japanese American Incarceration. The monument, the terrible weather, and the beautifully daunting Sierra Nevada Mountains have not changed since I last went, but every time I return my experience is different due to my growing involvement with the Japanese American community.
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