Participants in the Houston teacher training workshop included (front row, seated, from left) Bill Yoshino, Sharon Ishii-Jordan, Lillian Ogata Bonner, Gary Nakamura, Natalie Hayashida Ong and Greg Marutani.
By P.C. Staff
Seeing the large sign displaying the “Art of Gaman” traveling exhibit supported by the JACL at the Holocaust Museum of Houston — host of a teacher training workshop on Feb. 13, which was financed through a grant from the National Park Service’s Japanese American Confinement Sites — added to the value of the workshop, as participating educators also had the opportunity to view the arts and crafts items made in the internment camps during World War II.
JACL Houston board members Gary Nakamura, Abbie Grubb and Colleen Morimoto worked in conjunction with Mary Lee Webeck and Emily Sample of the Holocaust Museum Houston, resulting in a turnout of inquisitive educators who posed many questions for the workshop’s unique panelists.
Lillian Bonner recalled her story as one of the 101 orphans in Manzanar’s Children’s Village. Storyboards documenting her life were presented through numerous photos about the camp and the special barracks that were erected for the Children’s Village orphans.
Natalie Hayashida Ong was only a baby at the time she and her mother, Fumiko, were removed from Bainbridge Island, Wash. Both were immortalized in a famous photo taken of Ong’s mother wearing a black coat and hat while carrying a 13-month-old Ong wrapped in a blanket on March 30, 1942. Fumiko Hayashida past away at age 103 on Nov. 2, 2014.
Houston JACL Chapter President Gary Nakamura shared his late father’s experiences at Gila River camp and the Military Intelligence Service. Capt. George Nakamura and his family were uprooted from California and forced into
Gila River in Arizona. In November 1942, Capt. Nakamura was one of the first 32 young men to volunteer for the U.S. Army when recruiters came to Gila River seeking volunteers. After training at Camp Savage and Ft. Snelling, Capt. Nakamura was assigned to the Dixie Mission in Yenan, China, where he worked alongside Mao Tse Tung and his men. After Japan surrendered, Capt. Nakamura volunteered to serve at Gen. MacArthur’s GHQ in Tokyo and was transferred to the Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC). He served with the Occupation Forces in Japan until 1949, when he finally rejoined his family in the U.S.
At the lunch break, the panelists were all approached by the workshop’s teacher participants, who had many more questions for the panelists about their individual family’s experience in the camps and, in Nakamura’s case, his father’s military service.
JACL Midwest District Regional Director Bill Yoshino, who was also involved with the redress effort, provided the historical background and strategies involved in gaining the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which was signed by President Ronald Reagan.
Although the workshop ran well beyond the scheduled time due to the avid questions and comments made by the educators, all of the teachers stayed to complete their evaluations of the workshop.
The next teacher training workshop will be in Phoenix, Ariz., on March 28, hosted by the Arizona Chapter, followed by a final workshop on April 24, which will be sponsored by the Twin Cities Chapter.