Shiroma honors Okinawan parents through community service
March 21, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo
By Chikako Nago
Dorothy Shiroma Hoe is an 87-year old Okinawan Nisei (second-generation immigrant), born in Kahakuloa, Maui. She is the third daughter of Taro Shiroma from Kaneku, Nishihara City and Kamechia Ogusuku from Uchima, Nishihara City. Her father arrived in Hawaii in 1917 and her mother in 1921.
Dorothy’s heart swells with gratitude when she thinks about her parents. Neither of them spoke a word of English or had any kind of advanced education when they moved to Hawaii; they raised her in Uchinaguchi (Okinawan dialect). They worked hard on the plantations and later began growing vegetables in the fields. Then they started a greengrocer’s shop and opened a restaurant.
“They sure put their heads together to support the family,” Dorothy says as she reflects on the long road that her parents had taken to get to where they were. As a child, Dorothy had to go around local neighborhoods trying to sell off leftover papayas from their greengrocer’s. “I was very embarrassed back then, but that experience taught me the importance of modesty,” she chuckles.
Dorothy’s father taught her traditional Okinawan performing arts, ranging from Ryukyu dance to drums. Her mother, Kamechia, was an extremely hardworking person who taught her to treat others with compassion.
While taking care of her old mother, Dorothy grew aware of the high demand of such elderly care. She switched jobs from being a substitute teacher to being a social worker.
At the same time, Dorothy served the Okinawan community in Hawaii for 36 years by broadcasting useful information in Japanese through the KZOO Japanese Radio Station. Although some people picked at her imperfect Japanese, Dorothy says contently, “I gave it my best.”
Dorothy also founded the “Kariyushi Show,” holding the position of chairperson for 24 years from 1989 to 2013. The Kariyushi Show offers a stage for senior citizens involved in performing arts to show the fruits of their practice to the public.
Dorothy has received awards from the state of Hawaii, Honolulu City County, and the Okinawan community for serving the community over the years.
Currently, she lives in Honolulu City with her Chinese-American husband, Ivan. Whenever Dorothy’s listeners contact her, she replies with the utmost care.
(Translation by T&CT, Kaya Doi)
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