A little context before you jump into reading this: I’m a child of immigrants (access: child of immigrant experience) who grew up in the suburbs of Chicago: the not very diverse kind of suburb (access: white suburbia experience).
I’ve been a Trekkie since I was about seven years old when STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION (STTNG) first aired. Up until then, my father and I use to watch some old ST episodes or the films… ST: THE VOYAGE HOME was a favorite of mine. It was great to see George (Takei) up there, but I really loved seeing Uhura be the strong independent female especially by the time the films came out.
Then, with Gene (Roddenberry) at the helm, STTNG warped back to TV with that same vision he had with ST. I identified with Deanna Troi and Worf being bi-cultural and the challenges that come with it. Being a child of immigrants and growing up in an immigrant community who weren’t planning to stay in the U.S. for too long, I didn’t have any guidance about my heritage and how to deal with it for the rest of my life. Most other shows at the time like MARRIED WITH CHILDREN, FULL HOUSE, SMALL WONDER, THE COSBY SHOW, and ALF were shows that had no meaning to me. Okay, maybe except ALF cuz he’s furry and he’s a puppet and those are universally meaningful traits.
Somehow, I found my struggles reflected in Troi, Worf, and even Data. When Troi’s mother would visit, there was always the conversation of how things are done on Betazed vs Terran aka Earth. Worf’s own path of discovery of Klingon tradition and heritage because no one was around to teach him or when Dr. Soong recalls Data’s ‘childhood’ when Data didn’t understand how to interact with the world around him were character stories that I really connected with. I saw so many of my own challenges played out before me, except in outer space.
Before I knew it, Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek had embedded itself into who I am. I will forever be a loyal Trekkie. Live Long and Prosper.
Junko Goda was born and raised outside of Chicago. She started out as an aspiring pre-veterinary student but ended up studying just biochemistry at Colby College and minored in theatre. After graduating, she lived in Boston working as a molecular biologist. Drawn to the arts, she packed her bags and moved out to Los Angeles to act. She immediately became active with Lodestone Theater Ensemble and East West Players and also is a professional Japanese interpreter/translator for major projects ranging from Disney Imagineering, AMPAS, and major Hollywood productions such as THE HATEFUL EIGHT.