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Essay by
  • Erin Weinman
in response to
Essay by Robert Yutaka Hasuike

Robert Yutaka Hasuike recalls being a child growing up in Seabrook, living with his family in "Dormitory #11." Confined to this highly local community, Hasuike states, "Life in and around the dormitories was my small world. Going to nearby Bridgeton was a big event and a real adventure." His account gives no indication that his memories are unlike any other child's. He recalls all the friends he had and reminiscences about playing with children from all over the world. Still, a majority of his story is in observation of the confinement his family faced within the dormitories. There was a lack of privacy within the units - restrooms and laundry rooms were shared, and common rooms were used frequently to hold events. People lived in very close quarters to one another, which made the community forced as well. Units were connected through corridors that allowed for easy access to visit neighbors.

Revealingly, Hasuike's recollection never once uses the word "home." While a community was developed, and Hasuike has fond memories of the people whom he grew up with, there was not a sense of home. That much of his memory involves communal living is more reflective of a forced confinement where people had little choice in where they could reside. There was "the 'Italian Village' next to the plant" and "the migrant worker village near the Inspection Station," along with his own dormitory. People had to do the best they could in their situations. "I remember the lobby was convenient in many ways," Hasuike writes, and that "parties were held there." "I remember most Issei had a flower garden wherever they could find space," he adds.