Sachi Fujikawa, a retired high school English instructor and counselor, teaches about the past but she has a compelling history herself.
During World War II, she was incarcerated at Rohwer War Relocation Center in Arkansas along with 8,475 other Japanese Americans who were living in California, Oregon and Washington. In 1944, the U.S. Supreme Court declared citizens could not be detained without cause and the camps were finally closed.
She relocated to Chicago, where she enrolled in Central YMCA College, and then moved to Buffalo, N.Y., to work at the Council of Churches for a year. She then returned to Los Angeles, where she earned a bachelor's degree in anthropology at the University of California at Los Angeles.
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She married William Fujikawa in 1947 after he served as a U.S. Army interpreter.
The couple first visited Ashland in 1973 and they bought a house here in 1976. They moved here permanently from Glendale, Calif., in 1986. Her husband died in 1999.
Since 2001, she has taught or facilitated classes on Asian culture and other topics at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. She often incorporates film in her classes.
Favorite aspect about Ashland: I enjoy the creative energy that permeates the area and the sense of community that gives it warmth. I love the people and the wide range of cultural and social activities.
How do you engage your students? It varies with each class. I teach a different class every term. I don't like to repeat myself. Most of my classes are about Asian art, literature and culture, but I have taught classes on Marilyn Monroe, women in literature and other topics.
What are you teaching this school year? My three topics will be the humanism of Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray and Eleanor Roosevelt as the first lady of the world. I will also be team-teaching with Beth Mogford on Clint Eastwood as a director. I work ahead because each class requires considerable planning and research. I often team-teach with friends and occasionally coordinate classes, which I put together with a different speaker each session.
Can you tell us one highlight from your long teaching career? I brought the Advanced Placement program to Verdugo Hills High in Tujunga in the Los Angeles Unified School District. I taught English and a good friend taught American history, and within a few short years we had students earning college credits in art, calculus, biology, physics, chemistry, Spanish and French.
And then what happened? After three years of teaching, I was selected to participate in a fellowship program for experienced English teachers at Cal State Northridge and earned my master's degree. This was a rigorous and stimulating experience that made a world of difference in my teaching.
You look familiar: I have been in the local newspaper a couple of times. My husband and I were in an article about redcoats, and there have been articles about ikebana and years ago, there was a story about a Japanese tea ceremony demonstration. I was on TV a few years ago with comments on the kimono show, which was held at the Rogue Gallery and Art Center in Medford.
What's still on your to-do list? I don't have a bucket list. My husband and I traveled during our entire married life, so while I haven't seen all the places I would have liked to have seen, I am now content to stay at home except for occasional visits with family. I am 87 years old and do not have the energy that I once had.
What do you like to do in your spare time? I am a member of the Ashland Study Club, Sogetsu Ikebana Study Club, Thursday Mah Jongg group and Asian Potluckers. I'm also on the board of the Friends of the Hannon Library and OLLI.
That sounds like a lot of activities for someone who doesn't have the energy she once had. Anything else? In addition to taking OLLI classes, I go to plays, concerts, movies and other events. I read, watch films, do my research for my classes and socialize with my friends. I used to be an Oregon Shakespeare Festival volunteer, but I retired from that a year ago.
Reach reporter Janet Eastman at 541-776-4465 or by email at email@example.com.