Yu Hasegawa Johnson (Yu Hasegawa)
Yu Hasegawa Johnson
  • Visiting Scholar, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)

  • M.F.A. University of Southern California (*1)

  • M.Ed. Harvard University

  • B.S. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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One of the memorable things:This happened one weekend in May, 2009, during the graduation at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana:

"I was visiting the town and having dinner at a restaurant when I saw a bunch of happy people dressed colorfully in the Ghana Kente clothes. It was obvious that they were celebrating the graduation of their family member(s). I asked them if they were from Ghana and they said, "Yes!". I continued, "Do you know Wesley Girls High School?" "Of course, my daughter went there," one of the women proudly replied. She pointed at a beautiful young woman sitting two tables away, obviously the one graduating from the university this week: her smile was filled with the energy of her new life ahead.

I walked to her and asked, "Do you remember the name of the computer center at Wesley?" "Ah...," she said, a bit confused by the sudden question. "What was it? ...it was..." she turned around to ask her friend who was also an alumna of Wesley. "It was something like... Sega..., Hajay....???" I asked, "Was it Hasegawa Computer Center?" "YES!" they both replied at the same time. I almost burst into tears....

Perhaps, I wouldn't have felt this emotional if I had met her at something like an African conference in Tokyo, or, at my office in Japan. But to meet someone like her here in Champaign, a small town surrounded by the endless cornfields in the center of Illinois in the middle of America.... that was something very special.

"That's us," I told them. They opened their eyes wide. "Really !!??"

They were both surprised to meet me and find out how their high school came to have the Yasuko Hasegawa Computer Center 16 years ago. The Center was inaugurated in 1993 by the government of Ghana to honor our IDCE program.

The young woman told me that, as a student, she would take a computer class once a week at the center; she told me that her computer literacy education gave her the ability to become who she is today. She later found out that her cousin, a graduate of Presby Boys Secondary School, still remembers the day his school welcomed its very first computers [from IDCE] back in 1991.

I'm still touched and thrilled."


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