By Helen Yoshida
Washington, D.C., has many memorials, but the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism in World War II is the only one that commemorates the incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans and their families with panels representing 10 confinement sites in the remote places of Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming.
To bolster the connection between the Memorial and these remote places of incarceration, the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation is in search of high school students, under the direction of their history teachers, to research one of the 10 confinement sites and create 10 digital stories conveying the unique aspects of each confinement site and capturing the backgrounds of those incarcerated there.
NJAMF will provide financial support covering travel and expenses for qualified students to attend a two-and-half-day digital storytelling workshop at the 2016 Heart Mountain Pilgrimage from July 28-30.
Located near Yellowstone National Park, Heart Mountain is one of 10 camps that incarcerated Japanese Americans and their families. Selected students will have the opportunity to tour the site of the original camp, which includes original structures, an honor wall and a world-class Interpretive Center, as well as work with Emmy Award-winning filmmakers Jeff MacIntyre and David Ono to learn how to create a digital story. From researching oral and written histories and writing the video narrative to learning the videography, this process will provide a profound educational opportunity for all students involved.
At the conclusion of the workshop, some of the stories will be aired during a banquet dinner on July 29. Follow-up work will also be conducted by these filmmakers, which includes postproduction of students’ digital stories. Once the stories are finished, they will become the center of a companion website that ties back to the websites of each confinement site. In concert with the interactive website, an app will be developed for use by visitors to the Memorial.
Cal Shintani, chair of the NJAMF, said the Memorial “symbolizes sacrifices that were made by thousands of Japanese Americans and their families and attracts visitors from around the world. By creating these digital stories to accompany the Memorial, we hope to give them and online viewers a greater understanding of this dark chapter in our nation’s history.”
The NJAMF has identified the review committee, which includes Shintani, Shirley Ann Higuchi, a NJAMF board member, and Beth Kelley, administrator for the NJAMF.
The NJAMF realizes the importance of this central monument to the far-reaching histories of Japanese Americans and their families. In addition to tying it and the nation’s capital to these desolate areas, this project deepens the connection between the confinement sites and Los Angeles through MacIntyre and Ono. MacIntyre, owner of Content Media Group, and Ono, ABC7 Eyewitness News reporter, are well connected within the Los Angeles Japanese American community and have a special connection to the younger generation.
Higuchi notes that “this is an opportunity for the younger generation to learn more about this story, which continues to be relevant today, and personally interview the Nisei who are still able to talk about their experiences. With state-of-the-art technology and the online presence of these digital stories, future generations of Americans can share this part of U.S. history.”
Although there will be a significant push to recruit students from the Washington, D.C., area, the application will be open to high school students across the nation that have an interest in the Japanese American incarceration experience or civil rights.
For more information on how to apply for this experience, contact Beth Kelley at NJAMFstudentproject@gmail.com. Applications are now being accepted, and the submission deadline is March 1, 2016.