Nikkei: The Sadao Munemori Project

Carlos Cortez and Kamyran Williams posing in front of a camera at the end of Exhibition. Elena Marin/Vitruvian Post

Carlos Cortez and Kamyran Williams posing in front of a camera at the end of Exhibition. Elena Marin/Vitruvian Post

Elena Marin

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“These aren’t the desks that I remember!” 11th grade biology teacher Tyler Mar at the Internment exhibition room. Elena Marin/Vitruvian Post

A passport to enter the Internment exhibition room. Elena Marin/Vitruvian Post

A presentation on World War 2 and the treatment of Japanese Americans in internment camps. Elena Marin/Vitruvian Post

A stack of passports at the entrance of the room. Elena Marin/Vitruvian Post

After what you’ve learned, what nationality would you consider your person? Visitors write down their thoughts about the person on the passport. Elena Marin/Vitruvian Post

How do you show courage? Visitors write down a moment where they had shown an act of courage. Elena Marin/Vitruvian Post

Junior Moises Carranza gives a small presentation of the history of the Wiseburn school district. Elena Marin/Vitruvian Post

Junior Veronica Sierra greets exhibition guests to the Internment exhibition room. Elena Marin/Vitruvian Post

Juniors Kamyran Williams and Carlos Cortez pose in front of the camera. Elena Marin/Vitruvian Post

Slideshow of pictures taking place during WW2. Elena Marin/Vitruvian Post

Greeters politely invite students, parents, and staff inside the U.S. History Exhibition room to learn more about Japanese internment during World War II. The greeters give them a small passport to allow them inside, showing a picture of a person from the early 1940s, the name of that person, and small details such as the date and place of their birth. However, their nationality is never written. The goal is to learn more about the internment camps and guess what nationality this person is by the end of the experience.

Going inside the Exhibition room, ‘travelers’ are greeted to a desk full of passports, a screen showing images of WW2, a wall covered with American and Japanese flags and other pictures such as a map of the Santa Anita Race Track. After Executive Order 9066 was issued, Japanese Americans were evicted and “evacuated” from their homes and brought to temporary “assembly centers” such as the Santa Anita Race Track until the construction of isolated internment camps were completed.

According to Andrew Daramola, the U.S. history teacher, the exhibition room was based on the Go For Broke Museum and the Museum of Tolerance. Activities in the exhibition room serve to be interactive and to learn deeply about who they’re talking about.

“The passport was inspired by the Museum of Tolerance, showing some facts about a person’s identity,” Daramola said.

Daramola went on to explain that the 11th grade class was still in the middle of their current project so they didn’t have a final product to show, but still managed to find informative activities for exhibition night.

“We want to show the deep view in this time period,” he said. “It’s important to have people walk in the shoes of the Japanese Americans in this time period, even if you’re not a Japanese American, you can really understand what it was like for people in this time period of history.”

Junior Moises Carranza presented a small presentation of the making and history of the Wiseburn School District and then juniors Kamyran Williams and Carlos Cortez gave a presentation about the events of World War 2 and the treatment of Japanese Americans during their time in the internment camps. ‘Travelers’ learned new facts that they never even knew about, like that barracks were converted into classrooms for the children’s’ schooling and classes had as many as 48 students for one teacher.

“I think that my favorite part of Exhibition was doing research on Mar’s granddad, his name is “Koy” Koichi Asano, that was really fun,” said Williams. “He was really religious like he carried the New Testament in his pocket and carried it into the war.”

Williams mentioned that Asano served in the 442nd Infantry of WW2, an infantry compromising of Japanese Americans and stationed at Germany and Italy. Williams went on to say that the 11th-grade Biology teacher, Tyler Mar liked that she had a photo of his grandfather that he had never seen before.

“I really like the fact that my grandfather was one of the people that was researched and Kamyran found some photo and information about him that I didn’t know previously,” said Mar.

At the end of the slideshow was a picture of four rows of Japanese American students sitting behind their desks.

“These aren’t the desks that I remember!” Mar exclaims, causing Williams to laugh, she insisted that Mar would have to be as old as his grandfather to know that.

Right after that was a wired wall with a sign that asks ‘How do you show courage?’, which was based on the Go For Broke Museum activity where tourists write down a tough experience and how they pushed through it.

Japanese Americans were going through tough times, so the main question was ‘how did they push through that situation and maintained a level of courage?’. Daramola insisted that the purpose of this activity was to connect people then, to people now.

At the end of the walkthrough, several students gave the ‘travelers’ information about the person on their passport, answered questions that were written in the passport such as what was this person’s purpose in the war or about their wartime experience. This allowed ‘travelers’ to make their own judgment on what nationality they think their person is. The goal for this activity is for people to see that these people in the passports are American too.

“It’s all to educate people,” Daramola said. “Not a lot of people know about Japanese American internment. I think that there’s a lot of reasons. The dominant narrative, a narrative of American history where we don’t talk about the negative parts of our history. There’s a section that we don’t talk about in U.S. history it’s not something we wish to remember.”

‘Travelers’ write down in a piece of paper their final thoughts and throw the paper in the bin. The passport is given to the greeters before going on a journey to the next exhibition room.

Visitors write down their responses to what they believe their person’s nationality is. Elena Marin/Vitruvian Post

Welcome to Nikkei: The Sadao Munemori Project room for Exhibition Night.

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