Carolyn Sugiyama Classen

Carolyn Sugiyama Classen was born & raised on a sugar plantation on the Big Island of Hawaii, now lives with her professor husband in Tucson, Arizona. She got a law degree and worked as a Legislative Aide for U.S. Senator Dan Inouye in Washington, D.C. She was instrumental in the creation of the National Commission on Wartime Relocation & Internment of Civilians, which investigated the wrong done to Japanese Americans during WWII. She is now a blogger/writer at the online Tucsoncitizen.com, as “Carolyn’s Community” and also serves as a Hearing Officer at the Pima County Consolidated Justice Courts Small Claims Division. She occasionally freelances articles for books and  journals, such as Oasis and Tucson Woman.

Updated August 2012 

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My International Family

I grew up in multi-cultural Hawaii, a 3rd generation Japanese American (Sansei) of two Nisei parents, whose Issei parents had immigrated from Hiroshima (father’s side) and Sendai (mother’s side). We grew up speaking English (and Pidgin English), no Japanese (because of the backlash from WWII), and ate foods from all cultures.

As a Japanese American growing up in Hawaii I learned to appreciate my own culture (sushi, Obon festivals, hanafuda cards, shamisen music, kimonos, etc.) but the other cultures as well—such as Hawaiian luaus & hula, Korean kim chee, Chinese dragon dances & fireworks, Puerto Rican kachi-kachi dancing ...

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