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Yukari's Story...Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month

My aunt who was living in Michigan, visited my family in Osaka Japan when I was 6 or 7 years old. I was so curious about her daughter who was probably a teenager at the time.

My aunt Hideko san
The Original Culture Shock Inventor in My Life

She fascinated me because she spoke a language I had never heard, and her hair, eye color and skin tone were much lighter than mine. Although my aunt spoke Japanese, she sounded a bit funny and I didn’t know why. One day, we were staying at a hotel, and my aunt asked me to ask her daughter for the “Kagi” (Key) in Japanese. Then, she gently took my hand and said, “Open your palm, and say, “Kii” to her, she’ll understand what it is”. And she smiled. I was a bit nervous to take such a huge responsibility, and that was my very first time speaking up to her daughter. I stood up in front of her, and did exactly what my aunt told me; showed her my little palm and said, “Kiii” but sounded like almost whisper. She looked at me for a second, but immediately understood and put the room key into my palm with a big smile on her face. That was the first time I realized that there are people who speak different languages, there are places other than Japan that I can only imagine what it looks like, and it was definitely my first “Culture Shock”. Then I remember the story my aunt told me when I visited her in Michigan for her daughter’s wedding.