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[YRP Students' Essays] Turning Back History

The essay is written based on the novel, "Looking for Alibrandi" written by an Australian woman Melina Marchetta, about a girl in her last year of high school who is trying to find her identity.
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It was just an ordinary day; I woke up as usual at around 6:00 a.m., ate my breakfast, and reached school around 8:00 a.m. I was an ordinary sixth grader at a public school in Hawaii. It was my first year at this school because I spent the last two years at a private school, and I decided to dropout because I was bullied for being Japanese. The situation was getting out of hand, so I changed schools. Then time had elapsed until that day. I thought it was going to be an ordinary day, until we lined up outside the classroom to head to the cafeteria for lunch break.

It was December 7th, 2001, about one week before the Christmas Break, however at the same time, it was the day that the Japanese Air Force attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941. While we were leaving the classroom, I heard in my mind, "I have a bad feeling." I had a premonition that my classmates would condemn me for the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and my premonition was completely right. Two of my classmates, Jacob and Bernard, who weren't friendly, started teasing me by saying, "Man, I can't believe you're my classmate, because the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and that means you're involved too, because you're Japanese."

Then I said to them, "Don't you understand that it's absurd and atrocious of you to say things like that because we are in a different generation?" However, they didn't stop, and because I was very vulnerable, my anger exploded and I started a brawl with them. I punched both of them in the face, but after Jacob kicked my knee, I was immobilized. My homeroom teacher Mrs. Sasaki noticed our brawl quickly, so she and several other students stopped us. I panted where I stood for a while before those two boys and I were sent to the vice principal's office.

On our way to the vice principal's office, I could see the younger elementary students playing on the playground, and some of them were staring at us and whispering to each other. I was so embarrassed at having ended up like this.

In my mind I said, "This can't be real! It must be an illusion, how could I end up being like this?"

However reality was reality and it was a consequence of my wrong decision to have attacked Jacob and Bernard even though what they said was atrocious. Soon, we stood in front of the blue door to the vice principal's office. We knocked on the door and heard a voice say, "Come in." My heart was beating fast and felt as though I might have a heart attack at any moment.

Fear and regret were what I felt when I entered the vice principal's office. The office was about half the size of my classroom, it had state-of-the-art Windows computer, and a quality painting on the green wall. The name of the vice principal was Mrs. Wiles. She was a big white woman with gray hair. She was sitting on the chair in front of the long wooden table with total of four chairs around it.

She sighed and said, "Take a seat boys." We sat with our faces looking down. Then she started talking. First, she said, "Do you know why you are all here?" "We are here because we committed an action that is not acceptable, not only at this school but in society," I said. The two boys were just silent with faces looking down. Then Mrs. Wiles said, "What you are saying is right, Aki, but why did this happen? Why didn't you just talk to your homeroom teacher rather than start a fight? You made the wrong decision." She wasn't furious, but she looked at me with a harsh look on her face.

Then Mrs. Wiles started talking with the boys and I wanted to hear what the boys were going to say, but I was asked to wait outside, so I couldn't hear anything. About fifteen minutes later, I was called back into the office, and Mrs. Wiles explained that we all needed to apologize to each other. So, we apologized, and the two boys went back to the classroom, but Mrs. Wiles told me that she wanted to speak a little bit more with me. I took a seat, and Mrs. Wiles explained.

"I talked with the boys, and from what they said, I thought it is conceivable that the reason why this incident occurred is because of history and cultural difference, so I explained to them that they should learn to know and respect other people's culture. However, you must realize that handling problems physically is not the right choice. So as a conclusion, both you and the boys have learned something from this incident. I also want you and the boys to consider having compassion towards other people. However, I should apologize because I couldn't predict that this incident would occur." Afterwards, I went back to my classroom.

On my way to the classroom, I recalled the incident in my head and realized that I was still immature and I lacked experience in communicating with people that were not Japanese. Soon, I realized that I should be eager to communicate with local people because communicating is the first step to know positive factors of other people's culture. However at the same time, I was trying to figure out a wise way to solve a problem that involves a cultural difference.

More than five years have passed since the incident, and now I am in a completely different environment, my home country, Japan. Sometimes I dream about the incident. Sometimes I think I want to go back to the time of the incident because I still regret that I committed such a rash action and know that I could have done something better than handling the situation physically, but we cannot go back and change the past. Also, we cannot change history. However, I thought it was a valuable experience because I learned how foolish and immature I was at that time, but I don't know what will happen in the future that lies ahead of me.

In the future, if I find an opportunity, I want to share my experience with the people around me, especially the Japanese and Americans, because this incident made me think how important it is to study war history, and most important of all, I learned that I should respect different cultures regardless of their historical backgrounds.


Child Research Net would like to thank the Doshisha International Junior/Senior High School and Akihide Nishigori, student and author, for permitting reproduction of this article on the CRN web site.

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