Teruko Dobashi, one of the film’s subjects, shares her PERSONAL STATEMENT, used for entry into the University of California, Berkeley as a freshperson.
“Living life without dreams is like a bird with no feet.”-Langston Hughes. As a child I was taught that a bi-racial girl like me growing up in the ghetto would never have the chance to accomplish her dreams. Growing up with a drug addict ex- prostitute as a mother and a father that made me feel like a mistake, it was hard to come to realize that my life was only a struggle until I accepted it as a whole. Growing up in Hunters Point, San Francisco CA. with neither one of my parents attending college, I fell victim to the streets which seemed to be the only option society chose to give me. I started to believe that in every war there’s an enemy and an ally (myself and my poetry). When I looked in the mirror it wasn’t the streets, the statistics, my parents, or the drugs that I saw; I only saw myself and I was my own worst enemy. “A change can only start with one’s self within one’s self”. I chose to change the stereotypes of what society states that a young minority, homosexual woman is able to be.
Opportunities never came my way, I had to chase them. This 17 year journey through struggle and strife is just a chapter of an autobiography of my life by the name of “From Ashes To Diamonds” All the times when I was told that I was never going to be anyone, I would sit up at night crying I would even slice my wrist hoping that my imperfections and problems would flow away with my tears and blood shed. But I refuse to fulfill anyone’s expectations except my own. I started to realize I could go beyond the limits that were set for me. Instead of giving up I got up, pain is temporary, quitting is forever. I always stay busy going to school being active in extra curricular activities such as GSA(Gay Straight Alliance),BSU(Black Student Union), volleyball, basketball, peer assistance, student government, close up club, and softball. I also work two jobs (The Center for Young Women’s Development and Kentucky Fried Chicken/Taco Bell) to support myself and my family.
Throughout these years of my life underestimation was a word that I learned to hate with a passion. Being asked questions like “you’re in two A.P classes and you made the Honor Roll?” reminded me that people either saw my femininity as an inability or my color as a disability. But in actuality the only disadvantage I will ever face is being under educated. Tell me and I’ll know, show me and I’ll remember, but involve me, and I’ll make the change. Some of the most memorable moments in my life were when I was learning. These moments included, attending the 1st ever U.S social forum in Atlanta GA., June 2007, attending a Cricket Island Research Conference in Chicago IL, July 2007,going to a 5-day media training at U.C Berkeley, producing my own short film, and going to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1st Women’s Health Conference in Long Beach CA. October 2007.
My definition of hell is a place called home. School and work are shelters from storms and situations I can’t face. From learning how to survive in the streets to learning about politics, government and chemical reactions in my two advanced placement classes, I know I have the ability to succeed. My world, my society, my community all say that I can’t make it. But I choose to remember the wise words of Langston Hughes, “Refuse to be pushed by your problems only be led by your dreams”. My dreams are reachable with your lift, your education and your impact on my future because “we are all in the gutter but some of us are looking towards the stars” –Oscar Wilde
Watch Teruko give a speech at her graduation from UC Berkeley: