Skip to main content

Education Matters: Workshops on the JA Experience

By October 24, 2014No Comments

By P.C. Staff

Although it was still summer vacation, participants in the teacher training workshop coordinated by the Seattle Chapter of the JACL and the Bellevue Arts Museum filled the auditorium on Aug. 9 to learn more about the Japanese American experience.

The combined efforts of the Seattle Chapter’s Stan Shikuma, who also serves as a National Education Committee member representing the Pacific Northwest, and Eileen Herbert, education curator at BAM, brought about this very unique workshop for educators.

Those who attended the Saturday workshop heard personal accounts from Anna Hasegawa, Lilly Kodama, Yosh Nakagawa and Elsie Taniguchi. Between them, the speakers shared first-hand accounts about Bainbridge Island, the Puyallup Fairgrounds, Minidoka and Tule Lake as they spoke during the morning session. During lunch, they were also available to answer additional questions by both educators and volunteers, including docents who participated in the workshop.

Docents who attended the workshop wanted to learn more about why Americans of Japanese ancestry were incarcerated during World War II because it directly ties into the tours they are currently leading as part of the Art of Gaman exhibit, which is on display at BAM through Oct. 12.

The Art of Gaman exhibit showcases more than 120 arts and crafts objects made by Japanese Americans in U.S. internment camps during WWII. Items on display include tools, teapots, furniture, toys, games, musical instruments and jewelry — all of which are physical manifestations of the art of gaman(ITAL), a Japanese word that means “to bear the seemingly unbearable with dignity and patience.

Both educators and volunteers were allowed to tour the Art of Gaman exhibit, as well as view art by Roger Shimomura and the tag project by Wendy Maruyama, which consists of 120,000 tag replicas that were issued to those impacted by Executive Order 9066. There was also an origami exhibit on display for the participants to view as well.

The workshop’s facilitators were Greg Marutani and Sandra Grant, both members of the JACL’s National Education Committee.

In addition, JACL Pacific Northwest Regional Director Karen Yoshitomi contributed much insight and information about the redress movement and the role that many individuals, organizations and elected officials played in bringing about the eventual passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which President Ronald Reagan signed into law on Aug. 10, 1988.

Through his extensive network, Shikuma reached out to many individuals and organizations in the Seattle area to prepare for this workshop. As a result, they sent representatives with educational materials, often enough to allow the participating educators to take copies of printed material and/or DVDs. Many educators added these materials to the JACL Curriculum Guide and Terminology Handbook that they received as part of the workshop.

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.

The next teacher training workshop will be in Merced, Calif., on Sept. 26. For more information, contact Robert Taniguchi at

Originally published on August 22, 2014