Welcome to the Princeton Club of Washington - Member Spotlight: Yeiichi Kuwayama '40

 

Member Spotlight: Yeiichi Kuwayama '40

Meet PCW Member "Kelly" (Class of '40), whose interests span the decades

   

While I was born on Manhattan's eastside (Park Avenue), it didn't define me as much as it created my first window on the larger world.

Many years intervened since then to shape me.  In New York, my friends were mostly old Anglo Saxon families in modest circumstances.  (My father had both an art goods and a Japanese grocery store on East 59th Street.) Later, after we moved to Woodside, Queens, my new friends were from second or third generation immigrant European families. 

My high school "scene" was Newtown HS (Queens), which had special classes for college bound students. Eventually, most of my classmates went either to Columbia or City College (locally), or farther afield like the Naval Academy.  I chose Princeton, where one of my best decisions was to join the gym team.

I wasn't athletic nor was I familiar with team sports, but the gym team
gave me year around exercise and trips to neighboring colleges -- West
Point, Annapolis, etc. I got to see the bigger "college picture" as a result.

An even bigger decision at Princeton for me was to attend the School of
Public and International Affairs (now the Woodrow Wilson School).

The world beyond campus had lots to teach me.  The biggest impact after
graduation was my getting drafted into the US Army in peacetime where
I got the nickname Kelly.  Later, after Pearl Harbor, I joined other Japanese
Americans in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and found many were
from the internment camps.

Other milestones: The difficulty of getting hired in spite of Princeton and
Harvard Business School was really memorable.  I did take a job with
Nomura Securities. There, I was told that if I expected to be promoted,
I would have to work in Japan and be sent out from there.  That work
experience in a Japanese company was really interesting.

Earlier, I assumed that United States life was in general like life in
New York City -- but I learned that was wrong.  Life in NYC is made
up of different cultures from different immigrant groups ranging from
Bar Mitzvahs to Greek weddings.  But life in the United States in small
towns was dominated by the Protestant Church and a fairly old and
homogeneous culture. My family accepted and adjusted to these many
different cultural strains.

Right now, current events absorb me: the elections, the war – Iraq
and Afghanistan, and more.  Beyond that, it's my family and how future
generations will have to adjust to each other and the global economy.

I think that the mellowness of age restricts any material pursuits for me. 
But I still enjoy the ability to pursue interests, kindled by Princeton,
intellectually.

My biggest apprehension: Both the speed and the simple availability of
communication globally, and whether we can understand and use it
with all its ramifications for global gain.

Looking back, here's what I believe: We are people of this earth.  As earth
people, we need mutual sacrifices to be made, and how we resolve that
may engage us until eternity.  We came as a people from tribes to become
nations and we now move toward ethnic equality.


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