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2022-2023 ILLUMINATION Exhibit: 2022-2023 Interviews

2022-2023 Interviews

Watch this highlight reel of the six 2022-2023 ILLUMINATION interviews with Thomas Hiura. View full interviews of each story below.

Melissa Cariño (she/her/siya)

Photo credit: Melissa "Mimi" Nolledo

"I was really involved in…the Black Lives Matter movement back in 2016, 2015… I just remember my heart hurting so much. And luckily at that time, I was surrounded by people that felt...and thought the same way. And we organized together and we joined actions together…[W]ith COVID happening…I actually didn't participate in any of the actions around George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. One, because I wanted to stay safe, because I have some family members who are immunocompromised. But in so doing and not engaging, I felt super isolated… And I also have to say that there weren't a lot of, there's not a lot of people of color who work in the City of Springfield. And I think all my other workplaces, I've always had that community, and I felt even more isolated as an employee in Springfield, and not having someone directly to connect with about it. So, that's hard…"

View the full interview between Thomas Hiura and Melissa Cariño on the Springfield History Museum YouTube channel.

Ada Lee (she/her)

Photo credit: Melissa "Mimi" Nolledo

"After, China Palace on 6th street… And then we started Ming's Restaurant, at 7th street. And then we started, because I went to a class with a friend, to a real estate class in Portland. And we saw that Trader Lee, oh, it was so nice, you know? With fire, and everything. So we said, Oh, we have to open Trader Lee. So we opened a Trader Lee in Eugene, and we opened a Trader Lee in Springfield…On Main Street. But I think now-- what they call it? … Great Wall. Which used to be Trader Lee… And we tried to put some fire on in the front, you know, like Portland does. But it didn't work very well. And the fire department think that we should not do that anymore. So we took it down. But so...we have buffet. And we have a sign there. And we said, All you can eat. Do not waste. And if you leave food on the plate, your dinner is doubled. Like, you know, some pile up in the plate and then take it home. See, you can't do that. So, but it was really lots of fun. And comparing Springfield to Eugene, it's not much different. I mean, years back, of course, they are a lumber town, so they come in and they eat more than today..."

View the full interview between Thomas Hiura and Ada Lee on the Springfield History Museum YouTube channel.

Hai Nguyen (he/him)

Photo credit: Melissa "Mimi" Nolledo

"Every student has a different set of needs. And every student that you meet, you work with them, you learn what is it that they need from you. And remember, this is young adults. They're not fifth graders, sixth graders, they're young adults. They are growing up and they want to be independent. They just don't know how. So that's the difference. They have certain disabilities and certain needs, that you need to kind of fill in the blank and help guide them to learn those skills… So we meet them where they are, and they are a kick to work with. The stories that staff can tell on their little successes, their big successes, it's incredible. It really is a joy to work with them. That's why we do what we do. Like I say, I couldn't do it without my staff, and the staff are incredible in what they can do with the students..."

View the full interview between Thomas Hiura and Hai Nguyen on the Springfield History Museum YouTube channel.

Ricky Poon (he/him)

Photo credit: Melissa "Mimi" Nolledo

"So that's been the name of the [Eugene-Springfield Christian] church for a long time. And when I became pastor, there was a Chinese song, a hymn that seemed to be always in my mind. That song has to do with, you know, I have to kind of think of it in the Chinese and then translate it for you. In Mandarin Chinese, it's zhǔ, the Lord, zhùfú, giving of blessings. Yǔ chūnyǔ. It's like the spring rain. So when I became the pastor, you know, I kind of made that the theme song of the church because, you know, God's blessing coming down like a spring rain seemed to just fit…"

View the full interview between Thomas Hiura and Ricky Poon on the Springfield History Museum YouTube channel.

Jodi Willis (she/her)

Photo credit: Melissa "Mimi" Nolledo

"So I am the second child that my parents adopted through Holt International. My older sister's from South Korea. And then, from my understanding, the fall of Saigon was happening. And my mother said Holt called them. They had been praying for a second baby and she hadn't gotten pregnant yet. And Holt International called them and said, "Hey, we've got 25 babies on their way to America with no homes. Well, you've already gone through the home study program. Would you be interested?" And they said yes… May of 1975. So I was born in March… I should have arrived at the beginning of May. But I got ill with another baby. And so Hawaii was a stop from what I've been reading about Operation-- so it's called Operation Babylift… Which was getting all the babies out of Vietnam… And it was more than just that. I mean, I thought it was just a small little thing that Holt had the only ones who were sponsored. But I actually belong to a Operation Babylift group on Facebook… I realized it was all over the United States and Australia and New Zealand…"

View the full interview between Thomas Hiura and Jodi Willis on the Springfield History Museum YouTube channel.

Aimee Yogi (she/her)

Photo credit: Melissa "Mimi" Nolledo

"So by September 1943, 5000 students from the West Coast had been placed in 529 colleges and universities inland, to continue their education… Japanese-American concentration camp survivors and veterans joined Martin Luther King on the March on Washington. And in 1964, we had the Civil Rights Act. In 1995, after the Oklahoma City bombing of the Alfred Murrah Federal Building, Dale Minami led a team of Japanese-American attorneys as legal first-responders for the Middle Eastern Arabic-American citizens who were being harassed and detained as suspected terrorists… [I]n 2019, Japanese-American concentration camp survivors have led the effort to close the detention centers on the southern border. These are the detention centers where the refugees and immigrants coming from Latin America, and really all over the world, recalling their own separation from their families in 1942… So the takeaway from all this is, having gone through the injustice that this particular community has. After two Presidential apologies, redress and reparations, the injustice continues. And it is up to all of us to fight for the democracy we want to see, and we cherish. And we must stand united with everyone who suffers injustice…"

View the full interview between Thomas Hiura and Aimee Yogi on the Springfield History Museum YouTube channel.