Satoshi Kuwamoto of Fresno, whose higher education at what then was Fresno State College was cut short by the World War II internment orders that sent thousands of Japanese-Americans into prison camps in 1942, tell his story in a short film.
His is one of a dozen films posted online as part of the California Nisei College Diploma Project that helped to locate over 1,000 people or their surviving families. Each had been attending a California State College, the University of California or a California community college in early 1942 and had their college careers disrupted by internment.
The Nisei College Diploma Project was designed to find eligible Nisei and to award honorary degrees. California State University, Fresno awarded 28 honorary degrees under the program, most of them during a special May 2010 commencement ceremony attended by Kuwamoto.
In the film, he talks about growing up in the Japanese section of downtown Fresno where his parents operated a grocery store and a hardware store next door. While attending classes at Fresno State, Kuwamoto remembers rushing to work with the rest of his family when he didn’t have classes.
After being interned, Kuwamoto moved to the Midwest and attended classes at the Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy (now the Missouri University of Science and Technology), but was summoned back to Fresno by his father to help restore the family business. His father died, though, and he never returned to college.
A video interview with Kuwamoto was made during summer 2010 by University of San Francisco student Casey Ikeda. It can be viewed at www.youtube.com/user/CANiseiProject.