About Me

Why, hello! Thank you for stumbling upon my blog.  My name’s Cassie Guevara, and I’m a 2013 graduate of Oberlin College with an East Asian Studies major. I started studying Japanese when I was in middle school in suburban New York. From 2013-2015 I will teach English in Japan through the wondrous NPO that is Oberlin Shansi. My plan is to blog about the conclusion of my undergraduate career, the start of my professional one, and all of the craziness that life in Japan will entail.

During my last semester of college, I researched Oberlin’s history with Japanese-Americans during World War II. I hoped to make contact with people who are either the descendants of these Nisei or who were in some way connected to them.

My blog is written for anyone, including friends and strangers with little to no knowledge of life as a foreigner in Japan.

*Currently, I am finishing up my month-long vacation all over Japan before I start working at Obirin Daigaku, or J.F. Oberlin University, in Machida, Tokyo. Before I leave Japan, I hope to pass Level 1 (the most difficult level) of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT).


22 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Hi Cassie, I’m a former Shansi rep who continued to live in Japan after finishing. I’m on sabbatical now in the states and will return to my workplace in Aichi prefecture where I teach English. Your project on Nisei at Oberlin caught my eye because my parents and other relatives were in camp. If interested, look me up when you’re in Japan. You might be interested in my dissertation on Japanese American language professionals in Japan.

    Laura (Tomita) Kusaka, ’74

    • Oberlin College is the school that I attend- it’s a small liberal arts college in Oberlin, Ohio, a little bit West of Cleveland. 🙂 It was the first college in the USA to admit African Americans and women, and according to my research, it is also a school that accepted relocated Japanese Americans during WWII! It also has a renowned Conservatory of Music.

  2. I look forward to reading about you “crazy life in Japan” and about Nisei history. I have lived in Hiroshima since meeting and marrying a Japanese guy at Berkeley in 1973. If you travel around in Japan, come and see the inland Sea area and stay a few days!

  3. Hi Cassie,
    I stumbled upon your blog while researching one of the seven folks you were having difficulties with…my office is right next to Stewardship and I manage the database for the College. Yes, even we have some gaps in our data! If you manage to uncover any more information I would love to hear about it!

    • Hello Janice! I truly wish I was still working on the Obie Nisei project, but now I’m living and teaching English in Tokyo! At J.F. Oberlin University (Obirin), actually. 🙂

  4. Hi Cassie,

    I am currently an American teacher at Kansai Gaidai where I live with my American husband and 3 year old. I came upon your blog in a google search for “Taiko Hirakata Kids”. I was wondering if the school/teacher you mentioned has young kid classes and if you have any contact information. Our daughter is showing a strong interest in drumming and has experienced taiko at her preschool a bit. I would love to find her some extracurricular activities!

    Thanks! Loran Edwards

    • Hello! Thank you so much for your comment! It is wonderful to hear from a teacher at Kansai Gaidai. I miss it so much and hope to visit again sometime!

      I had a lot of different experiences with taiko while I was still in Osaka. First I tried a few lessons in Kyoto’s “Taiko Center”. Then I studied taiko in Osaka twice a month and traveled about an hour and a half or so to the dojo of a pro group Wadaiko Hiryuu. http://www.wadaiko-hiryu.jp/class/class.html I know there are other groups in Hirakata itself that might be more convenient to get to (I sat in on an all girls’ group’s practice one day), but I would have to ask around for their contact information!
      One of my friends Honda-san is an elementary school teacher who teaches kids Eisaa (Okinawan taiko) on the weekends. Please let me know if you would like her contact information!

  5. Hi Cassie,

    My name is Sue from S. Korea, currently doing my ph.d in Cleveland area. I’ve been to Oberlin campus while ago. It was a really pretty campus I remember. By the way I’m impressed! How did you collect all these historical materials from Oberlin? I’m recently conducting research on early minority psychologists in Ohio. I found that Harry Yamaguchi is one of very early asian students in Ohio and your blog helped me a lot to track his career. Could you tell me how you got those materials? I tried to contact universities in Ohio, but unfortunately they didn’t have much record of minority students. I’d appreciate any information on Japanese students on Oberlin!

    • Hello Sue! Thank you so much for finding my blog! If you haven’t seen this post yet, my research process was documented on this post: https://cgayleguevara.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/my-research-process/ . I used mostly sources in the Oberlin College archives as well as much intensive internet searching. Perhaps you can contact Kenneth Grossi, the head of the Oberlin Archives, if you are interested in finding information about Nisei at Oberlin. (ken.grossi@oberlin.edu) Other larger university libraries might be more helpful in researching minority students throughout the US. Thanks again! 🙂

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  7. Cassie,
    Thank you very much for further insight on my father, Soichi Fukui. It’s too bad when we were young, we didn’t ask him our self. Only when we’ve become old enough to stop thinking of “me” that we realize that we never really stopped to think about others, like our parents. So much history, so much time, lost forever.
    Just a slight correction though, my grandfather, Hitoshi was born in Honomu on the big island of Hawaii. Thank you again Cassie.

    • Dear Jerry,
      Thank you so much for your comment!! It is an honor to have been part of this research project, and I am tremendously happy a family member such as yourself has reached out to me. I completely agree with you, and I am actually hoping to focus from now on on my own family history in the Philippines! Knowing that people out there appreciate these important experiences is encouraging me to continue to research and reach out to people about their history. Lastly, thank you for the correction!! Take care!!

  8. Dear Ms. Guevara,

    I am reaching out to you for your help with a possible collaborative educational project with the community of Oberlin College. My name is Chris Brusatte, and I am the Exhibit Manager at Go For Broke National Education Center (www.goforbroke.org) in Los Angeles. We are a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to teaching the history of the Japanese American soldiers who served in segregated units during World War II, even as many of their families were held behind barbed wire in War Relocation Authority incarceration camps.

    We have seen your incredible work on the compassion of Oberlin toward Japanese American students during WWII, and we see you as the “expert” on this community story!

    We are in the process of preparing a grant proposal for a traveling exhibition that highlights 10 individuals and communities across the country that extended a helping hand to Japanese Americans during and right after World War II. The grant would help these communities explore that chapter of their heroic and forgotten history. Our organization and the community would partner for a joint exhibition that includes our traveling exhibit and the community’s story, with associated middle and high school curriculum to accompany the exhibit, and possibly other public programming.

    We hope you are interested in this collaboration, and if so, we would like to set up a time to talk! If you can, please email me at chris@goforbroke.org, and please cc my boss at barbaraw@goforbroke.org.

    I look forward to hearing back from you, and together we can celebrate the compassion and courage of people who went before us!

    Thank you,
    Chris Brusatte

  9. Hi Cassie. I came across your post of 2/28/13 “New Names of Obie Nisei” and saw you listed my mother Esther Matsu Kinoshita. You likely have moved on to other pursuits by now, but if you are still interested in getting in contact with the descendants of Obie Nisei, I am one! I have a bio of my mom that we wrote for her memorial service (she died in 2013). It talks about how she ended up at Oberlin when she fled the internment. She is one of the very few Nisei that were able to escape internment. Maybe you’d like me to send it to you but no worries if you are busy and have other interests by now. I am living in Tokyo now but I don’t think you are here anymore. Good luck in whatever you’re doing and don’t feel at all obligated to reply to me.

    • Dear Lisa-san,
      Hello!! Thank you so, so much for reaching out to me. I am so happy! I am still very, very interested (I think about this all the time, actually), and I would love to read the bio if that is okay with you! Thank you so much. I am also still living in Tokyo! Do you know Machida? It would be lovely to meet up sometime if that is okay. My email address is cgayleguevara@gmail.com. I haven’t updated in a while, but I’m sure happy I still have this blog! 🙂 Thank you again, and hope to hear from you soon!

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