A ten-week experience like no other has gone by in a blink (even Clement’s army of Godzillas came and left so swiftly). But I can definitely say that through this internship a la The Getty Foundation and the awesome staff at the Japanese American National Museum, my skills and awareness of so many things have been inspired. The past few weeks adding up to the Summer Festival were hectic with all the sign-making for Koji – and on top of that, the pressure of getting the Education booklet to the printers was upon me – but I finally have the time to calmly write a “bye bye” post here on the JANM blog.
Not only did this internship offered me a further awareness in the arts, it provided me an insight to my own background and identity within the society in which I live today.
One thing that I found intriguing at one point, after reading some posts from my fellow interns, was the many different and prominent backgrounds that existed under the roof of this Museum. To read and hear about their families and what kinds of activities they participated in growing up in an Asian-American community was very interesting, for mine was quite varying to their experiences. When the other interns and I attended an event in Santa Monica, I came across something that I never had before. The proctor casually instructed: “Please identify which generation you belong to.” This phrase troubled and greatly confused me, for I did know who I was. Having been born in Japan, I always grew up with the idea that I was a “Japanese resident just living in the States” and never really considered myself to be “American.” Certain times growing up in my teen years, I found it troublesome when someone considered myself an “Asian American,” as I felt I did not belong under that “category.” Unlike my fellow interns, I rarely attended the festivals here, and perhaps that is because my family and I were fortunate to make a visit to Japan every summer during my school years, and I attended the activities and events there in a yukata or kimono, back in my home country. Almost every Japanese holiday, I found myself celebrating in its country of origin. Maybe these visits led me to drift away from the country that I was residing in and even closer to my motherland. My parents, for whom I am extremely grateful, had encouraged my sister and me to continue learning the Japanese language even though we had moved to the States. The weekdays at American school and the weekends at Asahi Gakuen definitely were not pleasing at the time; numerous times, I detested having to learn kanji and always fretted to read outloud in front of the class, for I felt an intense pressure of being able to read the characters clearly and properly. And many times, my parents had to endure my whining and complaining about my weekends ruined by the classes. But it is now that I can say with pride and gratitude that without my parents and those Saturday classes (which lasted from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm), I would definitely not possess the ability to listen to, speak, and write the Japanese language. For that, words cannot describe how important language is – any language, for that matter. To be able to share and understand the experiences of one another is a very precious attribute to knowledge and attitude – to life.
And yet, I still stumble onto which generation I fall into. During the activity in which the interns had to identify their generations, I came to believe that I was 1.5 generation, but when I returned home and asked my father the very same question, I became even more confused. He spoke to me with an enthusiastic smile, “You’re not a generation. You’re Japanese.” And that has stuck with me ever since. It is true that finding your identity is an extremely long process, and I would argue that it is a never-ending one as well. And perhaps without this internship I would have never come across such search for identity, and I hope to continue my journey in finding myself and sharing my findings with the community along the way.
With that said, I must express my gratitude, appreciation and admiration for the entire staff here at the Japanese American National Museum for educating me the operations of the Museum, the arts, history, and most importantly, the inspiration to find my identity. To my fellow interns Alyctra and Alexa, I had a wonderful time sharing the internship experience with you and learning with you. I would like to believe that we are a unique team, being able to work and communicate with one another at a comfortable yet mature level – and not to mention (as Akira mentioned), we’re all about the same height! Definitely something unique, eh?
To my supervisors Clement and Mae, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for teaching me the visual and technical aspects of the Production Department. I may have been clumsy and gluttonous at times, but I appreciate your patience and care. I do not think I could list everything that I have gained from the experience that you have offered me, but I promise to cherish all that I have obtained during my time here at the Museum (including the picture frames from Target Day). And I must give a shoutout to Lynn who dealt with me in producing the Education booklet – I still have yet to see her put a piece of gum on her nose with her tongue.
I should stop writing before this post becomes an epic novel. I am sad as I bring this post to an end, but I do wish the very best to those here at the Japanese American National Museum, and I will keep my word that I will keep in touch with you all.
With fat loaded with love and appreciation,
P.S. Oh oh oh! One last thing. THANK YOU FOR THE ABUNDANCE OF FOOD / AWESOMENESS. I can say (with slight regret) that I have put on a few pounds ever since working here at the Museum, but food shall never be rejected. Thank you.