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RHS Asian Persuasion Excursion: Traveling to the Past

IN THE May 7 ISSUE

FROM THE 2011 Articles,
andContributors,
andEducation,
andReedley News,
andTeens
SECTIONS

by Ronny Schmitz

Living in this homely and secluded town called Reedley gives one the illusion that the world is small and simple. In only ten minutes one can get to the market, the local park, or the one “hectic” street that has enough restaurants to fulfill the needs of every town member. Everything is at arm’s reach. With a single walk around the block, a person can spot the favorite teacher she had as a child, the elderly dog that was once filled with robust energy, and three neighbors that she greets daily.

Asian Persuasion Club

In this protected environment, everybody knows each other. Secrets are hard to contain and rumors spread faster than jelly. Although at times somewhat annoying, with time a sort of familiar bond begins to grow. Even though you will never have privacy, you will also never feel lonely. There will always be that friendly smile inquiring about your life. With this comforting background and the innocent minds it nurtures, our Asian Persuasion club embarked on an adventure to the buzz and hustle of a big city; Los Angeles.

What began as an exciting class trip to an unknown world became a heartbreaking and touching lesson about prejudice and segregation. As the bus first departed the parking lot, it was filled with laughter and anxious anticipation. All the students were curious to explore the world outside of their own little world. For most, a quick trip to Visalia or Clovis was an exciting adventure. This time, however, they would be able to wander even past those boundaries. The bus was filled with the common “What ifs..?” and “Did you know…?”

Nevertheless, as space and distance increased between the bus and the reassuring Reedley, nostalgic silence filled the bus. What would the outside bring? Were the rumors true? Should we be scared? Minds were racing and palms were sweating as we neared our destination.

I knew this excursion to the Japanese American National Museum would be educational. After all, the word museum doesn’t leave much room for speculation – even for a small-town girl. Nonetheless, I never expected that this trip would actually teach me a lesson. Xenophobia is a very real problem in America. More people are trying to hide their heritage from fear of being called alien or stranger. Feeling some of this social pressure myself, I thought that America was retracting its promise of equality and of the pursuit of happiness. However, as I saw the faces of hundreds of Japanese children in relocation camps during World War II, I realized that someone is always misunderstood or feared. Even in a country as great as America, fear of the unknown has always prevailed. People have allowed misapprehensions to lead to anger and abhorrence. It seems that our need to “taxonomize” people for their appearance and their color has made us forget that we all share something in common: we are all Americans. We are all human beings. We are all brothers and sisters.

Ronny Schmitz is 16 & lives alone with her mother, her best friend. Together they have traveled to Europe and Mexico. Ronny’s aspiration is to attend Harvard University. In Harvard, she hopes to pursue the field of quantum physics. She is currently a junior in Reedley High School.

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