Wednesday 3rd July 2013
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When my parents divorced in 1957, my 20-year-old Japanese mother suddenly found herself in a strange country with no family, friends, money, food or place to live.
I wasn’t even 2 years old at the time. Yet instead of returning to Japan to her family and friends, my mother scratched, rummaged and scavenged enough to make a new life for us in America.
That’s because she knew a simple truth: A half-Japanese, half-American child had limited opportunities in Japan.
Things aren’t like they were back then — the wounds from World War II were too fresh, and I could never have gone to a top university or landed a top job.
Even though my mother barely spoke English and seldom had more than two nickels to rub together, she fiercely held to the idea of the American dream. “In America, anybody can get rich if they work hard,” she told me.
She was determined to have me prove her right. Frankly, I didn’t have much of a choice!
My mother was a big believer in corporal punishment, and I got the spankings of my life for anything less than straight-As.
In school, she ordered her children to sit in the front row right in front of the teacher’s desk. She gave me almost-daily lectures on the importance of education, and punished me severely if I brought home anything less than an A.
Even though my mother put great pressure on us to succeed in the classroom, I never considered cheating on a test because I knew my mother, like most parents, would have gotten very upset. more
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