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New Mexico workshop participants included (from left) Greg Marutani, Esther Churchwell, Victor Yamada, Jennifer Yazawa, Sharon Ishii-Jordan, Nikki Nojima Louis and Herbert Tsuchiya.

By P.C. Staff

A teacher training workshop in Santa Fe, N.M., took place on Jan. 30, thanks to the efforts of Jennifer Yazawa and support from Esther Churchwell and Victor Yamada, members of the New Mexico Chapter of the JACL.

The workshop, which was held at Santa Fe Community College, was also facilitated by Sharon Ishii-Jordan and Greg Marutani. Teachers who attended the presentation learned about the history of the Japanese American experience in the United States.

Workshop participants also heard from Nikki Nojima Louis and Herbert Tsuchiya, who were both children when they spent time in Minidoka, along with their families and nearly 9,000 others who were imprisoned there during World War II. Their recollection of their time spent in the camp with their families was among the highlights for the participants.

In addition, Churchwell and Yamada updated everyone about the “Confinement in the Land of Enchantment,” a project funded by the National Park Service through the Japanese American Confinement Sites program and the teacher training workshops.

Although the confinement sites in New Mexico (Ft. Stanton, Santa Fe, Camp Lordsburg) were smaller in size when compared to the War Relocation Authority camps, the stories that have been gathered from those who were imprisoned there or from their families make the imprisonment much more real and no less tragic, as all were victims of racism.

The workshop concluded earlier than scheduled, as more snow was forecast for the afternoon and schools were closing due to the inclement weather.

Fortunately for the facilitators and the New Mexico Chapter volunteers — of which Yazawa, Churchwell and Yamada helped coordinate the chapter’s 2014 workshop in Albuquerque — the drive back to Albuquerque was a safe, though a bit wet one.

The next teacher training workshop was scheduled to take place in Houston, Texas, on Feb 13, at the Holocaust Museum of Houston, where the “Art of Gaman” exhibit is currently on display through September.