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Participants of Seattle’s Bridging Communities program at the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial. Photo by Jason Matsumoto

By JACL National Staff

The national program Bridging Communities of the JACL recently took a group of high school students to the Nidoto Nai Yoni “Let It Not Happen Again” Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial in Washington.

The memorial is located on the former Eagledale ferry dock where on March 30, 1942, 227 Americans of Japanese decent were forcibly removed from their homes and unjustly incarcerated during World War II. It is also the satellite site of the Minidoka National Historic Site in Idaho.

This year, the program featured two main sessions: an interactive workshop and an educational trip to the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial. The interactive workshop engaged participants in lively discussions and activities focusing on self-identity, community and stereotypes and propaganda.

During the trip, Clarence Moriwaki, president of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial Assn., immersed the students in the history of the island through an interactive tour of the memorial.

“Learning about the memorial from a classroom is very different from actually walking down and visiting the memorial,” said high school student Mikayla Kato.

Students also had the opportunity to interview those who were formerly incarcerated from the island and those who developed the memorial site. These recorded interviews will be used to create an educational video to help preserve and interpret the legacy of the memorial.

After the pilgrimage, students collaborated with each other to produce a short media presentation that embodied the collective message behind the memorial through eyes of their generation. Students presented their work and personal reflections to their communities on June 28.

The Bridging Communities: Building Communities of Courage is located in Seattle and is a collaboration between the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum, Power of Words Committee of the JACL Seattle Chapter, Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community (BIJAC) and Muslim Association of Puget Sounds (MAPS). The program is funded, in part, by a grant from the Department of the Interior, National Park Service, and Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program.

Originally published on August 22, 2014