Immigration Oral Histories-2012

Students in Mr. Sultan’s 4th period US History class interviewed a variety of people with the general topic being immigration or internal migration. All of the interviews that they conducted were of relatives, family members, or neighbors. The themes and experiences of the interviewees ranged widely, but the interviews all contained several common themes, mostly around issues of change and continuity.

The interviewees also shared another key aspect in common; overcoming difficult circumstances and obstacles. From a Japanese survivor of an internment camp, to a survivor of political violence in Colombia-the students collected first hand stories of bygone eras. These also included stories of segregated schools and literacy tests in Arkansas, atrocities committed during the Japanese occupation of China, confrontations during the cultural revolution, and the difficulties of living in the former Soviet Union.

Students learned more about the lives of their families and community members. They also worked extremely hard to create translations for the interviews that took place in languages other than English. Please click on the images below to hear some of these amazing stories.

Patsy Wilson

Yao Xin Liang

Rodrigo Herrera

Rozalya Krutiy

Sato Hashizume

Liu Rui Pi

Shunyi Situ


During this hour long interview, Ms. Hashizume discusses her childhood experiences and hardships in America as well as details about her friends and family. Ms. Hashizume describes the life of a Japanese American during pre and post war times. Additionally, she explains how living in the depression has influenced her life today. She goes into detail about the methods she used to preserve materials we take for granted today. Hashizume also discusses the racist and prejudice actions and feelings towards her and her family after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. She also explains how she dealt with the mistreatment. These strategies used by Ms. Hashizume has created her into the person she is today.  She goes on to discuss her experience of life during internment camps and explains the hardships her and her family faced throughout the process. Ms. Hashizume describes the process as being authoritative, long, and tedious. She goes into immense details about the forms of propaganda used to turn the opinion of the American public against the Japanese. In addition, she mentions the structures they were housed in during internment.


Ms. Hashizume has an incredible memory and recounts the experience of internment in vivid detail. This interview is a very valuable record of a survivor reflecting on her experiences.

Liu Rui Pi

During this interview, conducted in Chinese Liu Rui Pi recounts his life growing up in China and tells stories that range from World War Two through the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution and even up to his immigration to the US in 1992.

The highlights of this interview, include a very haunting story of Japanese atrocities committed during their occupation of China in the 1940s that he witnessed first hand. For those who don’t understand Cantonese, this interview highlight has been translated and contains sub-titles. It is a truly compelling story.



Patsy Wilson grew up in Arkansas in the era when African Americans attended segregated schools, were not allowed to use public “white only” facilities, and were barred from voting through unlawful “literacy tests”.  Her childhood was spent on the front lines the struggle for civil rights.

In her interview, she discusses these “literacy tests” and describes exactly how they were used as an instrument of oppression. She recounts the inequity of attending segregated schools, and recounts the tension between blacks and whites in the South at that time. She remembers how the “Little Rock Nine” incident seemed like the coming of another Civil War.

This interview recounts the incredible life of Ms. Wilson; military veteran, airborne medic in Viet Nam, mother and cross country traveller.

Yao Xin Liang

In this interview Yao Xin Liang tells many moving stories of the front lines of what it was like to grow up during the Cultural Revolution in China. While the interview takes place in Chinese, three important highlights have been meticulously translated by the students.

In one, Yao recounts a story of how a Buddhist Monk ran into the problems presented by the Red Guard during this era. He also tells how he witnessed violent battles between two factions of the Communist Party at this time that led to hundreds of deaths. Finally Yao recounts how he witnessed people forced into “self criticism” that at some times resulted in a 5 year prison sentences for a single opinion that was interpreted as being against the party.

This is an inside view of what it was like for a common citizen to live through this time period. All highlight clips are accompanied by PDFs of English translations.

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