Nisei Student Relocation Commemorative Fund


Organization founded by Nisei in New England that awards scholarships to students of Southeast Asian descent as a way of honoring those who helped them during World War II.

Though the Nisei Student Relocation Commemorative Fund (NSRCF) was founded in 1980, the roots of the organization stem from a 1976 conference on Nisei retirement organized by the Japanese American Citizens League. One of the representatives at the event was Nobu Hibino (1921-98), a Nisei from Portland, Connecticut. Out of Hibino's efforts to locate Nisei in New England after the conference, a informal group calling themselves New England Nisei formed. They discovered that many in the group, including Hibino, had been assisted during the war years by the National Japanese American Student Relocation Council (NJASRC), an organization that helped some 4,000 Japanese Americans leave the concentration camps for college. As a way of honoring the those in the NJASRC who had helped them as well as to make the story of Japanese American incarceration better known, they came up with the idea for the NSRCF.[1]

The group awarded its first $2,000 grant in 1982 to the American Friends Service Committee, the Quaker group that played a primary role in forming the NJASRC. The AFSC used the $2,000 grant to fund a symposium on race in Boston. The group awarded its first scholarships in 1983, and the scholarships have subsequently become the focus of the group's efforts. The NSRCF leaders chose to focus on assisting students of Southeast Asian descent because their stories of struggling to overcome difficulties brought on by war reminded them of their own. As supporter Esther Suzuki recalled, "I looked at the scholarship winners and said, 'My God, there I am forty five years ago.' I felt like I was part of a long chain all the way from 1945, holding hands and helping each other."[2] The fund grew rapidly in the early 1990s, in part due many Nisei donating all or part of their reparations checks.

Each year, the NSRCF selects a different city or region and awards scholarships to students of Southeast Asian descent who graduated high school in that year in that area. In the thirty plus years of its existence, the group has awarded scholarships to students in every part of the continental U.S. The most recent sets of awards have gone to students in Seattle (2011), Philadelphia (2012), Houston (2013), and North Carolina (2014). Scholarships range from $250 to $2,000 and are awarded at a ceremony in the chosen city. As was the case with the NJASRC, the NSRCF tries to maintain a relationship with scholarship recipients throughout their college years and subsequent careers. As a result, a number of former NSRCF scholarship recipients have gone on to become contributors to and board members of the organization in later years. Since its inception, the NSRCF has awarded over a half million dollars in scholarships and has a endowment fund of over $1 million.

Authored by Brian Niiya, Densho

For More Information[edit]

Austin, Allan W. From Concentration Camps to Campus: Japanese American Students and World War II. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004.

---. “Eastward Pioneers: Japanese American Resettlement during World War II and the Contested Meaning of Exile and Incarceration.” Journal of American Ethnic History 26.2 (Jan. 2007): 58–84.

Ito, Leslie A. "Afterword: Nisei Student Relocation Commemorative Fund." In Storied Lives: Japanese American Students and World War II by Gary Y. Okihiro. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999. 140–51.

NSRCF website: http://www.nsrcfund.org/index.php.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. Leslie A. Ito, "Afterword: Nisei Student Relocation Commemorative Fund" in Storied Lives: Japanese American Students and World War II by Gary Y. Okihiro (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999), 140–51; Nancy Matsumoto, "Fund Offers a Chance to Pay Wartime Debt of Gratitude," Los Angeles Times, April 3, 1992, accessed on July 8, 2013 at http://articles.latimes.com/1992-04-03/news/vw-384_1_matching-funds.
  2. Nisei Student Relocation Commemorative Fund, Inc. website, accessed on July 8, 2013 at http://www.nsrcfund.org/scholarships.2010.php.