Girl Scout Creates Patch Program to Raise Awareness of WWII Japanese American Incarceration

Ambassador Girl Scout Lauren Wong sits in front of JANM's Common Ground exhibition.
Ambassador Girl Scout Lauren Wong sits in front
of JANM’s Common Ground exhibition.

 

My name is Lauren Wong. I am an Ambassador Girl Scout with Troop 881, based at the Orange County Buddhist Church in Anaheim, California, and a candidate for the Girl Scout Gold Award. This award is similar to the Eagle Scout rank in Boy Scouts; it is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn. Applying for it is a seven-step process that begins with identifying a global issue and ends with creating a project that educates, inspires, and promotes awareness of that issue. For my Gold Award application, I have created a special Girl Scout patch program for the Japanese American National Museum.

Since I was little, my grandmother has told me stories of her incarceration at Tule Lake concentration camp, inspiring my passion for learning more about my Japanese American history. Students do not generally get the opportunity to learn about the mistreatment of Japanese Americans during World War II, as it is often overlooked in history classes. Even today, many of my school friends do not know about the camps. My goal is to educate the general public and inspire them to appreciate the lives they have today and not let history repeat itself.

Girl Scout patch for those who complete Lauren Wong's Common Ground curriculum. Designed by Lauren Wong.
Girl Scout patch for those who complete Lauren Wong’s Common Ground curriculum. Designed by Lauren Wong.

 

I have created an educational tool called Experience the Past, available in three separate worksheets geared toward elementary school students, middle school students, and high school students/adults. The worksheets, which can be requested at JANM’s front desk, are designed to accompany a visit to the museum’s core exhibition, Common Ground: The Heart of Community. They pose questions and suggest exercises that are designed to help visitors identify with the exhibition, think more deeply about what they’re seeing, connect it with aspects of contemporary life, and converse with others about their experience.

At the end of their visit, participants who complete a worksheet earn a custom patch that I created. Through this program, I hope to spread awareness of the history of Japanese American incarceration, which is important not just to Japanese American history, but to American history as a whole.

Tickets are still available for two upcoming Girl Scout programs at JANM. On January 9 and 16, current Girl Scouts are invited to take a private tour of Giant Robot Biennale 4, followed by a zine-making workshop with exhibiting artist Yumi Sakugawa. For more details and to register, visit janm.org.

26 thoughts on “Girl Scout Creates Patch Program to Raise Awareness of WWII Japanese American Incarceration

  1. Whoa! You are as articulate as most of my media friends, as insightful as most my teaching colleagues and as promising a future leader as ANY student I’ve taught in high school or college. Continued best wishes with your project and I hope to have an opportunity to view it first hand some day.

  2. Lauren, you are an amazing young woman and I am proud of you. You are showing such strong and natural leadership skills! I love that this is a “tough to get high honor” for the girl scouts who are up to the challeng. I look forward to seeing this badge become a reality for many young women!

  3. Kudos, Lauren! My daughter is a Cadette in Seattle, WA. While I don’t think the troop can afford a trip down to California :-), I’m wondering if there’s a way she can incorporate your middle school worksheets to educate her troop. My parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles were put in internment camps during the war and my uncle served in the prestigious 442nd. My daughter is a 4th generation Japanese American! Congrats on your nomination for the Girl Scout Gold Award!!

  4. Congratulations on your project and thank you for your interest in a very dark time in history for Japanese and Japanese Americans. May your project become known far and wide.

  5. As a Girl Scout leader and someone who has visited Manzanar many times, I applaud your project! Great idea and follow through!

  6. Lauren, this is a wonderful project. I’m sure you would also like to see the Ansel Adams Manzanar exhibit at the Skirball Cultural Center. As a former Girl Scout (not really former, Girl Scouts forever!), I am very proud of you.

  7. Hi Lauren,

    I’m not in Girl Scouts, but am interested in knowing if there’s some way to promote this worthwhile project to bring awareness east. I live in Florida. Think about it and let me know.

    Sincerely,
    JC (Janet) Kato

  8. Lauren,

    Congratulations on the wonderful work you have done with Girl Scouts. The patch is an excellent reminder of the history of this country. May we always remember those dark days and learn from our history.

    Jennifer

  9. My dad was interned at Tule Lake. When I saw the patch it reminded me of his descriptions of the camp. Thank you for your work on this. It is important that people remember so we don’t repeat.

  10. What a creative way to encourage students to learn some justify and about a culture that may be different that their own. Lauren, you are to be thanked for do this.

  11. This is awesome! Is there a way to get to worksheets to use with my troop at the Uprooted: Japanese internment exhibit at the California museum in Sacramento?

  12. Not only have you brought the WWII, JA internment awareness among the Girl Scouts of America, but have opened doors for other people to share their ethnic atrocities as well! Good luck, Ms. Wong, on acquiring your gold star and hope your amazing project/patch gets nationwide coverage! Woo HOO!
    Keep on…KEEPING ON, dear Lauren!!

  13. Dear Ms. Lauren Wong,

    I am impressed by the magnitude regarding your comprehension of learning about historical injustices. I recognize, acknowledge, and applaud your gumption at being pro-active in sharing what you have learned. In relation to one (of two), of my own cultural roots, I will simply say, “Brava!”

    Ms. Wong, you shine brightly. Continue following your instincts, and remain true to yourself.

    Respectfully and peacefully, Lawra Liotta Neff

  14. I would like to know how I go about ordering the curriculum and badges for my daughters to earn. Please email me any information and links needed including where to order. Great job, you should be proud!

  15. Lauren, you make America a better place. I am teaching my son about this neglected part of our history and I would like to see it as mandatory in American history taught in US grade schools.

  16. I was in Tule Lake from ages 8 thru 11 years old….You have done a wonderful project for your Gold Award……I hope somehow this can give all Girl Scouts the opportunity to earn the patch and raise awareness of the WWII Japanese American Incarceration

    1. Hello,
      I study and teach about kids’ experiences of occupation, internment, and incarceration at a state university in Pennsylvania. My students are deeply moved and angered when they learn about the incarceration, as well as its prologue and aftermath. I have many sources to share with them, but I know that they would benefit from hearing a survivor’s voice firsthand.

      If you are willing — and I certainly understand if you are not — I would be very interested in corresponding with you. My email is ghalko@wcupa.edu

      Respectfully,
      Gabrielle

  17. What a wonderful tribute to your grandma and all those imprisoned during WWII. My husband’s family was imprisoned and lost what little they had. They were at Tule Lake for part of their imprisonment. It is so wonderful to see you keeping the story alive for younger generations who are rarely given the information in more than a picture subtitle in schools. I was lucky that many Japanese Americans came to Seabrook NJ after they were released, because of jobs here. I was get to learn their stories firsthand.

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