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Manolita Holadia(March 2021 Issue)

My Dedication for Cultural Exchange

My parents were born immigrants; my mom is from Nagasaki, Japan,

and my father is from Chinibaba Peru. Mom experienced the atomic bomb being dropped on her country during the time of war. She suffered radiation poisoning because of the impact it made on the area she lived in. She was forced to stay in a tunnel to shelter herself for three days due to the war's horrific encounters. She moved to the United States and then met my father.

My Dad, who was in an orphanage in Peru from the age of six, was born in 1901. During that time, they were riding horses and carrying machete knives on their hips, he also experienced living a difficult life, and he then moved to this country. Both my parents met in a small town in Virginia, and neither one of them spoke English. So as their child, I stood out! I never felt accepted when it came to appearance, features, and nationality since neither of my parents spoke English. So, I was considered a miss fit at the school I attended, and every day I would get physically beaten up by other kids. My lunch money would get taken, and this happened continuously. I was called half breed since nobody knew my nationality because I was half Japanese and half Peruvian, it didn't seem to fit in with anyone. I was in school fights all the time, and the teachers never helped me.

During census time, my teacher had asked me in the wrong way; “WHAT ARE YOU, AND WHERE ARE YOU FROM?” It was a time I will never forget because I got beaten so bad, I hit the pole, and the kid that beat me threw me down in the mud because he said I was funny looking. They would call me all kinds of names because I didn't look like your typical white kid. So, after being thrown down to the mud, I had come into the classroom covered with dirt and soaking wet. The teacher never said anything or acknowledge my appearance. I had to take my clothes off and place them on a radiator to dry some, that way I didn’t feel so wet. I never said anything to anyone about the altercations because I didn't think they would listen to me. When I would arrive home, my dad would tell me to fill my purse with rocks because back when he grew up, they would throw rocks for protection. So, I began carrying stones in my bag to school, all the way up until I reached high school just in case I got “Jumped.” I became accustomed to the girls running out of the bathrooms and saying, “ugh, it’s her, and others laughing at me.”

I know some people suffered far worst, so it could have been horrible. As a child, it becomes very depressing because you want to be liked by others. I did have a few close friends, but what made the situation worst was that I had a “Brain.” Some despised me for my knowledge, but that’s what saved me. I couldn’t wait to leave that town and never go back, other than to visit my parents. I was able to go off to college, and the funny-looking kid everyone made fun of grew up! I became Exotic, Smart, and Interesting, and people didn't make fun of me, and I never had to fight anymore.

My younger brother experienced harsh treatment, as well. They tried to castrate him because they said they did not want any more of our kind to reproduce. I received the proper education, and that opened the world up to me. I began to appreciate everything that education has to offer, and it also gave me freedom.

I remember being a student in this small town where I grew up reading this one textbook titled; “Virginia History.” The book gave false information indicating that the slaves were happy on the plantation. Since this was what was in the book, you believed this to be true because it was history.

There was one teacher that I appreciated; her name was Ms. Harris. Her father was the SCLC president, and he marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She was my high school teacher, and she took the social study books with all the wrong one-sided history and dumped them in the garbage, and gave us new books to read. Langston Hughes, Black Boy Blue, all these books allowed me to identify with the minorities, also known as the underdog. Those that were not accepted by anything at all, other than by their appearance. I still believe, and I have hope, that with the proper education, people who lack their countries' history can someday understand the facts about slavery not ending in 1865.