Back to School!

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Schools have started and JANM is back in session! Buses pull up each morning, filled with students and teachers coming to learn more about the Japanese American experience.

We are always thinking about ways in which these visitors—most of whom are not of Japanese descent—can better relate to the Japanese American experience. One of the ways we do this is to use the artifacts (the “stuff”) from JANM’s collection as a means to begin conversations about visitors’ diverse, yet intersecting, experiences.

So last Spring, we worked with a group of ninth graders from Los Angeles Unified School District’s King/Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science to see how artifacts connect to stories of immigration/migration. These students uncovered family histories to learn how their artifacts related to their families’ journeys.

Before coming to JANM for a school visit, students photographed their artifacts and wrote short narratives about journeys to Los Angeles from other states, other countries. The artifacts, like the artifacts in JANM’s collection, are indeed very precious and have some amazing stories to tell!

We hope that the sampling of the essays from the King/Drew students might also get you thinking about your own stories of immigration/migration.

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The students’ essays were created as part of a pilot project between King/Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science, the Japanese American National Museum, and the Smithsonian Institution’s Our American Journey Project. OAJ is a multi-year project that will examine international and internal migration centered on what we understand today to be the United States.

Photos by Gary Ono.

Allyson Nakamoto

Allyson Nakamoto is the Director of Education at the Japanese American National Museum.

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