The Digital Docent

Shishima Family 1944

 

Look at our volunteer Bill as a young boy!  Top right.  Don’t you want to know where he is, what he’s thinking, how he got his hair so perfectly coiffed?

Ok but seriously.  Our volunteers have a rich narrative of history to share with younger generations.  History has been written from the top down, but the foundation is the strength of the story and ordinary peoples’ voices need to be heard.  A new history told from the bottom up needs to be cultivated bringing dimension and diversity to our understanding.  This year we are introducing a new Speakers Bureau through online interfacing.  The Digital Speaker’s Bureau will facilitate this new history and discourse between generations.  Enabling students to speak to older adults and hear their stories is a much more moving experience than one that can be gained from a textbook.  The Speaker’s Bureau also allows us to reach an audience that for distance or financial reasons is unable to visit the National Museum.

Students can have a richer education that includes more of the diversity that makes America.  The personal connections that can be made through the Digital Speaker’s Bureau are difficult to replicate in a textbook or classroom.  The shared experiences of the volunteers will lend itself to an informed society and one more aware of the complex networks of narratives that make our history.

Plus, look at how cute Bill looks.

We trialed an oral history interview over Skype last spring between Bill and a high school in Texas.  It went a little something like this.

Digital Speaker Session

If you’re interested in setting up a group for Digital Speaker session, please email groupvisits@janm.org!

 

Discover Nikkei Survey

Hello beautiful people!

My name is Maya Kochiyama and I am the new Discover Nikkei intern this summer at the Japanese American National Museum through the Nikkei Community Internship program.  I am entering my junior year at UC Berkeley as an Integrative Biology major.

As part of the Discover Nikkei staff, I would cordially like to invite you to take our Discover Nikkei Survey!

We are conducting this survey in hopes of learning more about the diverse array of Nikkei communities around the world.  The results from this survey will be analyzed and presented at the XVI COPANI (Conventions of the Association of Pan American Nikkei) Discover Nikkei Conference in Cancun, Mexico in September.

It’s a quick and easy 10-minute survey that may even get you thinking about your own cultural identity.

Here are the links to check it out!

ENGLISH:  http://5dn.org/copanisurvey-en
日本語:   http://5dn.org/copanisurvey-ja
ESPAÑOL:    http://5dn.org/copanisurvey-es
PORTUGUÊS:   http://5dn.org/copanisurvey-pt

If you have any questions, you can email editor@discovernikkei.org or contact me at mkochiyama@earthlink.net.

The last day to submit the survey is July 25th!

Thanks so much!  We greatly appreciate your support! 🙂

The Best Lunch Dates Around

As my fellow interns have mentioned, the JANM is not the place for a diet. The Japanese Village Plaza is less than a stone’s throw away, the area is full of froyo and sweets shops, and the staff room is filled daily with a plentiful bounty of docent-brought treats. In conjunction with my new existence as a sedentary, headphone wearing, video editing machine, I can feel the pounds piling on.  Flashbacks of my “Freshman Fifteen” come rushing back as I realize I am gaining what I’ve decided to call my “Getty Intern Gut.”

For ten weeks, I’ll forgo the summer California girl look of toned body and flawless tan, in exchange for a more pleasantly plump, florescent light-fostered glow.  Of course, the food and company I’ve had is well worth it.

I’ve found that times at the JANM are celebrated with great food.  Today marks the last day for another intern, Mia.  To commemorate the occasion, the whole office went to lunch.  And where else would the staff and interns of one of the largest Japanese American museums go but Chinatown.  (**Side note: Japanese people always seem to come together for Chinese food.  Be it a wedding, funeral, or family reunion, pan fried noodles always seem to beat out sticky rice for celebratory food.  It’s something I’ve never understood…)

Mia’s celebratory lunch was at a wonderful little dim sum restaurant.  We all had our fill of noodles stuffed with shrimp and beef, fried squid, rice, and Chinese vegetables.  The feast was delicious, and the company at the table couldn’t be beat.  One of the best things about these fantastic lunch dates is the friendships I can feel forming with the people I work with.  Sure, sometimes conversation turns to business: the Discover Nikkei files that still need to be looked over, or some new exhibition space.  But more often, deeper connections are made.

I’ve learned that Vicky has a thing for food photography.  Before a grain of rice goes into her mouth, at least one picture must be taken.  The result is a mouth watering online food diary whose size is comparable to that of the Museum archives.  I’ve learned that Yoko can speak three languages.  Geoff has a huge knowledge of science fiction literature.  I’ve learned that John, long-time Obon attendee, is going to dance at his first Obon this summer (the Media Arts department is still trying to get footage of him practicing—more on that to come, hopefully).

This internship has proved edifying in more ways than I can count.  I’m learning to shoot tape and edit video, sure, but I’m also learning about the people I work with, and the culture I come from.  I’m learning to love and accept it all–even my Getty Gut.  The trick, I’ve found, is not to run to the treadmill or the stair master.  Instead, all I can do is sit back, smile, and try to get some work done before the food coma sets in.

A “konnichiwa” to you!

It seems like I’ve lost the race to reach this blog, but nevertheless I am delighted to introduce myself to you!

My name is Yuiko Sugino, a recent graduate from UC San Diego, and I am this year’s Production intern here at the Japanese American National Museum. You are probably aware by now from the previous posts that there are three interns total at this museum, and I am very excited to meet staff members and get to know one another through the next few weeks.  It is unbelievable that two weeks have already gone by, yet every day seems to be different.  To be honest, I was not exactly sure what to expect when I applied for this position as a production artist.  And when I arrived and spent my first few days at the museum, I’ve noticed one thing: the reaction I received when I explained who my supervisor was.

“I’ll be working under Clement as a production intern.”

Responses: “Uh-oh.” “Seems like you’ve pulled the short straw.” “Good luck!” and the big-eyed, raised-brow facial expression with the stretched “Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.”

So it is fair to say that I have been warned.  But I must say I am very excited and fortunate to have such active and humorous supervisors (the other being Mae, an equally kind yet quirky person with whom I love to converse) (I hope they are not offended by the adjectives I’ve chosen…).  I must thank them in advance for everything they’ve offered me 🙂 Let me say that a Production internship entails so many interesting things!  From using vinyl cutters to create the visual texts that are to be put up on the walls of an exhibition, to designing and applying small display panels by utilizing a laminating device (which I might add was quite frustrating at first, because the tape kept on creasing and causing bubbles to appear – so I had to redo a handful of them), so much has been drilled into my brain and hands.  I have attended several meetings and a screening, and I’ve realized that there is so much to learn in terms of exhibition development, the history of this country as well as the nicks and knacks of networking.  Not to mention the amount of food that exists in this building!  I’ve been told that this place is not the place to be if you are on a diet… seems like my luck has run out.  Through incredibly generous offers, losing weight is not going to happen for me within the next two months.

I am extremely anxious to learn and acquire the new skills and knowledge within the next couple of months, and I look forward to sharing that experience along with my fellow interns with you! And now, it seems like my 15-minute break has come to an end, so I will bid you a good day!  Happy Wednesday, everyone!

A Summer for the Books

For many years my summers have consisted of friends, sunshine, and sleeping in, which some would like to call, lazing around and being the opposite of productive. However, this summer, I have been back in my home-state of California for about three weeks now and have spent two of those weeks at work, behind-the-scenes of the Japanese American National Museum as this summer’s curatorial intern, one of the three Getty interns this summer.

I am Alexa Kim, a soon-to-be second year at Kalamazoo College, in the little known city of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Last year, I, a lifelong California girl, decided that I would be spending the next four years of my life, across the country, in the wild wild Midwest, a place where the winters are cold and the authentic Mexican food is scarce, a place I’ve learned to call home. I’m set on the path of becoming a full-blown art nerd, a.k.a. an art history major, since I discovered years ago that I would not make my living as an artist since the “art” I created, or attempted to create, resulted in works faintly resembling Picasso, when I had been aiming for more of a Caravaggio-esque look. If you don’t know who on earth I’m referring to, like I said, art nerd in training.

Bright and early every morning I hop on the train to commute to Little Tokyo, where I am greeted with the hustle and bustle of everyone grabbing their pre-work coffee fix at Starbucks, me included, and then proceed to head to my desk at the National Museum. I have been met with various projects here, but the majority of my time here will be spent in the Collections department. A room where one must always remember to bring a sweater because even though it may be a sweltering 90° outside, it is always a brisk 67° in Collections. Down there, safety first means putting artifact preservation above one’s preferential temperature level. Despite the chill, Collections is a candy store for little art historian children. As I have been becoming more and more acquainted with Japanese American history, every artifact I come across has an amazing story behind it just waiting and wanting to be told. Stories that will eventually be told, as we continue to work on the hefty task of creating a new exhibit, which will shed a new light onto the WWII story. What I will be doing at the museum this summer, is simply a small piece to an eventually big puzzle.

This marks the end of my second week working at the museum and I cannot wait to see all the cavities I will have by the end of my ten week trip to the candy store and the great tan I’ll have from spending all my time under artificial lighting. But seriously speaking, the lack of a tan I will have by the end of these ten weeks will so be worth it.

A Word From One of This Summer’s Getty Interns

And with each summer brings a new opportunity…

June gloom is finally beginning to burn off, and all my school friends are enjoying the break tanning on the beautiful Santa Barbara beach by day and partying by night.  I, instead, sit typing at my internship desk, with loaned keyboard, computer, and office space.  My days are filled with waking up earlier than I have in years, falling asleep, against my will, exhausted, the moment I get home, battling the 110 north, and having the time of my life at the National Museum.

My name is Alyctra Matsushita.  I’m going to be a senior at University of California, Santa Barbara (go Gauchos!), studying English and Asian American Studies.  I’m also the Japanese American National Museum’s Media Arts Intern, one of three undergraduate students commissioned for ten weeks to intern at the Museum by courtesy of the Getty Museum.

I’ve been here less than two weeks, but I’ve already learned so much.  I’ve met the huge multitude of volunteers–some of them several times over.  It feels like every time I walk into a room, I’m introduced to a new crop.  Even though there are gaggles of them, they’re each personable and kind—in the mornings they offer the interns coffee cake and other treats, they have potlucks and snacks, and every one has dozens of stories, from war memories and tales that they share willingly with my fellow interns, to gardening secrets and other gossip secretly whispered to more trusted fellow docents.

In the last two weeks, I’ve also learned more than I ever even knew existed about the multimedia world.  I’ve gotten to cut and edit tape to be used for the Discover Nikkei website—as a self-proclaimed Asian American Studies nerd, this was especially exciting because I’ve explored the site multiple times for both academic research, as well as recreation.  To see the behind the scenes work involved after exploring the site myself was especially satisfying.  I also did my first solo shoot—a book party with testimonials from the Japanese Americans from Lompoc!

All in all, the first two weeks have gone by quickly.  Getting the hang of things the first couple of days was a bit wracking, but now that I know what’s what, things are smooth sailing.  I’m very excited for the next eight weeks, and can only imagine the fun they will bring!

National Asian American Theater Conference


The National Museum is honored to be one of the hosts the 3rd Annual National Asian American Theater Conference & Festival. Here is the schedule of performances that will be taking place here @ JANM:

National Center for the Preservation of Democracy (Tateuchi Democracy Forum)

June 23, 2011

7:00pm NAATCO: A Number by Caryl Churchill

9:00pm May Lee-Yang: Ten Reasons Why’d I’d Be a Bad Porn Star

June 24, 2011

7:00pm Brandon Patton and Prince Gomolvilas: Jukebox Stories

9:00pm Jason Magabo Perez: The Passion of El Hulk Hogancito

June 25, 2011

7:00pm May Lee-Yang: Ten Reasons Why’d I’d Be a Bad Porn Star

9:00pm NAATCO: A Number by Caryl Churchill

June 26, 2011

2:00pm Jason Magabo Perez: The Passion of El Hulk Hogancito

4:00pm Brandon Patton and Prince Gomolvilas: Jukebox Stories

For schedule information, visit www.caata.net/.

More Spaces Available in our Introduction Udon Making Class!

We have a few spaces available in our introduction to udon making class with Sonoko Sakai!

Find out how to make real and delicious udon noodles! Wear close toes shoes with soft soles. Bring an apron and a tupperware to take home your udon. $75 members; $85 non-members, includes admission and supplies. RSVP early, 12 students max.

For more information about Sonoko Sakai and her other workshops, visit www.cooktellsastory.com/.

Public Invited for Update on Regional Connector Plans

On June 29 at 6:30 pm, JANM will host a public meeting about the new regional connector plan here in Little Tokyo (Los Angeles).

From Blog Downtown:

“Little Tokyo, the community that had been most vocal during Regional Connector planning, got a preview of changes to its part of the rail line in January. The refined 1st and Alameda station takes up only half the space of the previous design, fitting into the northern half of the block bounded by 1st, Alameda, 2nd and Central. More importantly, it creates a gentle curve onto 2nd Street that could allow Metro to use open land at 1st and Alameda to insert the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) needed for construction of the underground line.”

To read the full article, go to: http://blogdowntown.com/2011/06/6281-public-invited-for-update-on-regional-connector