Growing up as a Japanese American, the differences of opinion regarding various subjects and current events across different generations intrigued me. These differences in opinion would lead to thoughtful insights and lessons learned from my grandparent’s Nisei generation, as well as intense arguments with my parents, the Sansei generation.
Whether it is lessons to be learned or passionate debates, I think that we all can gain something from a new perspective. The "3 to 1" series looks to offer perspective through the lens of three different generations of Japanese Americans concerning one topic.
This month's topic is “Summer Break,” and we have 3 generations offer differing perspective from the lenses of Teachers and Students. First, representing the Sansei generation we have Joanne Ishii. She is a retired teacher who molded young minds for over 30 years. Next, we have Ms. Marisa Katsuda repping the Yonsei perspective. She is an 8th grade math teacher and is ready to provide some acute answers. See how I angled that pun? Last but certainly not least we have Isa de la Cruz, a 9 year old (soon to be) 4th grader! Let's hear what these folks have to say about summer break!
What is the first word that comes to mind when you hear “Summer Break”?
What is your favorite part about summer break?
Sansei: Lunching, golfing, and vacationing with friends.
Yonsei: I get to work on projects that I don’t have time to do during the school year. This year I am building a PC and keyboard, learning how to macrame, and taking summer courses to complete my Master’s.
Gosei: I get to hang out with all of my family.
What is your least favorite part about summer break?
Sansei: The 2-week countdown to the beginning of school.
Yonsei: Being away from my coworkers. I miss the consistent 30-minute lunches with my friends where we Wordle and vent about our days.
Gosei: I can’t see some of my friends and my teachers.
Do you prefer summer break or winter break? Why?
Sansei: I prefer summer break because you have more time for activities, and the weather suits the activities that I enjoy doing.
Yonsei: SUMMER! I think the main reason is because my birthday is during summer vacation. I also find that I can travel during summer break since it is longer and not filled with family plans like Christmas and New Years (which I still love).
Gosei: Summer. It feels longer, and I get to go more places. And there are more holidays.
What is your favorite summer break activity?
Sansei: Going on a long vacation to Hawaii and golfing.
Yonsei: Reading a book! I usually don’t have time to read for pleasure so I buy books to read for the summer.
Gosei: I think my favorite summer activity is playing outside.
What is your song of summer? What lyric from that song describes summer?
Sansei: Summer Breeze by Seals and Croft. "Summer breeze makes me feel fine.”
Yonsei: Every Summertime by NIKI. I don’t have a lyric that describes this summer but this song always puts me in a good mood and good vibes!
Gosei: Ummm, I don't really have one…
Do you have a fond memory of summer break? Why does this memory stick out to you?
Sansei: Every summer for the past 15 years, my husband and I would go to Palm Springs to golf and enjoy a few dinners out with our best friends. We became very close and because of this, we’ve traveled to Hawaii (many times!), Italy, Las Vegas, and New York together. There are many hilarious moments on each of these trips that we talk and laugh about as we reminisce about our travels.
Yonsei: My fondest memory of summer break is going fishing with my family in Lake Tahoe. This is a fond memory because I got to meet my extended family and get competitive for Bass Pro Shop gift cards.
Gosei: Ummm, no.
Do you have any fun/big plans for Summer Break 2022?
Sansei: Yes. We have a Vegas family reunion on my dad’s side (with relatives coming from Hawaii, Minnesota, New York, & many from California), a golf outing in San Diego with our best friends (decided to change it up from our usual Palm Springs!)
Yonsei: Yo! Camp! I am so excited for the first year of Yo! Camp. It will definitely be one for the books.
Gosei: Yeah, a lot! A sleepover with my friends for my birthday. My brother's birthday is coming up. I’m going to stay at my grandparent’s this week. Today was my Lola’s birthday, I think.
Swimming pool or Beach?
Sansei: I'd rather enjoy the jacuzzi!
Yonsei: Beach. You aren’t fighting for a seat at the beach. Also, there is something more freeing about being at the beach than confined to a pool.
Gosei: Swimming pool, because I can’t go in the water at the beach, I get itchy. Besides, I don’t want to get rocks in my pants!
Have you ever had a summer fling? If not, describe your ideal summer romance or friend-mance.
Sansei: No, not really.
Yonsei: Yes, it wasn’t the story of Sandy and Danny but it was my first relationship when I was in high school. I went on a trip to Japan with the Jr. YBA and this boy that I liked was also in the group. We had been talking for awhile, but with being away from home and with a group of friends, we ended up getting together! It was fun while it lasted: sharing our first kiss at the movie theater watching “Dark Knight Rises”, holding hands at the beach, and calling each other on our Motorola phones all night. When school started he went to college and I was a senior in high school, so things got complicated, but we ended on good terms.
What would be your dream summer vacation?
Sansei: Japan. I'd want to spend time in Tokyo since I love the city, then go Kyoto, Sapporo, & visit my Jichan & Bachan’s hometown in Oshima. I would like to take my children and their significant others.
Yonsei: My dream summer vacation would be to Tokyo. If they were able to get work off, I would go with a couple of my girlfriends, although I think there is something beautiful about taking this journey on my own too.
Gosei: I would go to another place in Hawai’i (since I've already been to Maui) and I would bring my friends and family.
Why do you think summer break is necessary?
Sansei: Teachers reach a burnout point, and it starts happening in May. They need the break away from students and in an environment where they can de-stress and let their guard down. It’s also a great time to enjoy the activities that you don’t have time to do during the school year and also enjoy being with your own children.
Yonsei: Summer break is necessary because it gives us a chance to rejuvenate our minds and souls over the course of a handful of weeks. We are starting with a brand new class and group of students and this is not something that we can just jump into. While working on self-care some teachers are still working. I will be doing lesson plans and prepping for a new class that I have never taught before. Without this time off, I would not be able to dedicate my attention to this work.
Gosei: So you can have a break from all the work you’ve done at school. And so you can have some fun time with your family and you can visit them too.
Do you think people who work a 9-5 office job should also get some sort of summer break?
Sansei: Yes, at least a week or two. I think they would benefit because everyone feels stress in their job, and having a break from work stress is a way they can stay healthier mentally. One of my principals even said, “If you need to take a mental health day, then take it off as an illness day and don’t feel guilty about it”.
Yonsei: If people want to give up their PTO days and get paid on a 10 or 11 month salary schedule, then sure. Or, it can be like France where we get a summer holiday! I would love for me and my friends to be on the same schedule like when we were younger.
Gosei: Yes, so then they can spend time with their family.
For people who are about to go on summer break, what advice would you give them to maximize their enjoyment of the time off?
1) Switch out of teacher mode immediately! Get everything cleaned up and get out of your classroom on the last day you’re supposed to be there. Don’t go back to school until the first teacher day, and not a day earlier. I spent too much extra time (on my vacation days) packing up and cleaning out my room, and going back a week before I was supposed to be there to be extra ready.
2) Make plans on day one, lots of lunch with friends, play dates, home projects. Don’t feel guilty about just vegging out for the day.
Yonsei: Find something that you enjoy to do, whether that's travel, crafts, sleep, or anything else, and DO IT! Anytime you ask yourself, “Should I…?” just say yes and go for it. Summer 2022 should have no regrets.
Gosei: Umm, try to have fun! And do what you can.