Students Taking Leadership Role In 2011 Manzanar At Dusk Program

Eryn Tokuhara (center) and Matt Ichinose (left) listen intently to a former Japanese American concentration camp prisoner tell
his story during a small group discussion at the 2010 Manzanar
At Dusk program, held at Lone Pine High School on April 24, 2010.
Photo: Gann Matsuda

LOS ANGELES — College students will take the lead role during this year’s Manzanar At Dusk program, sponsored by the Los Angeles-based Manzanar Committee, scheduled from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM on Saturday, April 30, 2011, at the Lone Pine High School gymnasium, located at 538 South Main Street (US Highway 395), in Lone Pine, California, across the street from McDonald’s (see map below).

The Manzanar At Dusk (MAD) program follows the 42nd Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage, scheduled for 12:00 PM that same day, at the Manzanar National Historic Site, between the towns of Lone Pine and Independence, approximately 230 miles north of Los Angeles (see map below).

MAD is co-sponsored by the UCLA Nikkei Student Union, the UCSD Nikkei Student Union, the Cal Poly Pomona Nikkei Student Union, Lone Pine Unified School District, Lone Pine High School, and the Friends of Manzanar.

Through a creative presentation, small group discussions and an open mic session, MAD participants will have the opportunity to interact with former internees in attendance to hear their personal stories. Participants will also be able to share their own experiences and discuss the relevance of the concentration camp experience to present-day events and issues.

This year, MAD will take a notable departure from how the event has been organized in recent years, putting much of the program firmly into the hands of college students, thus moving the event closer to its 1997 roots.

“The first MAD program—it was called Manzanar After Dark back then—was held around a fire at a camp site just west of Independence,” said Gann Matsuda, co-coordinator of the Manzanar At Dusk program. “College students, primarily from the City College of San Francisco, were among the main organizers of the program, along with Jenni Kuida and Ayako Hagihara of the Manzanar Committee.”

“This year, one of our goals was to put MAD back into the hands of college students,” added Matsuda. “MAD is really their program, and has been all along. The Manzanar Committee is really just the caretaker for it. We want them to feel a real sense of ownership, and for MAD to become a part of these student organizations and their traditions.”

UCLA Nikkei Student Union President Kevin Machino spoke on behalf of the three student organizations about the importance of the program and their involvement.

“The MAD program is important because it is a time when everyone, regardless of age, gender, and ethnicity, can come together to reflect on the Japanese American Internment experience and discuss what still remains to be done in today’s society,” said Machino. “As Japanese American student organizations, we feel it is important to expose this opportunity to our members, and allow the attendees to become more knowledgeable about such a significant experience in Japanese American History.”

“This year, our organizations are assuming a larger role in the MAD program,” added Machino. “As we consider the future of the program, we know that we cannot continue to rely on former internees to be able to share their experiences in a large group setting.”

Indeed, most former internees are now in their late 80’s, or older.

“Last year, the number of former internees present at the MAD program was much, much lower than ever before,” said Matsuda. “We always knew this day would come, but it is sobering to know that it is now upon us.”

“We’re proud that these young people in our community recognize that we need to find new, creative ways to keep their stories alive,” added Matsuda. “The fact that they have taken the initiative to do so at MAD shows that these students are leaders in our community right now. We don’t have to wait for them to graduate.”

Both the daytime Pilgrimage program and the Manzanar At Dusk event are free and open to the public.

For more information, check the Manzanar Committee’s official blog at http://blog.manzanarcommittee.org, call (323) 662-5102, or send e-mail to 42ndpilgrimage@manzanarcommittee.org. You can also follow the Manzanar Committee on Facebook and Twitter.

The Manzanar Committee is dedicated to educating and raising public awareness about the incarceration and violation of civil rights of persons of Japanese ancestry during World War II and to the continuing struggle of all peoples when Constitutional rights are in danger. A non-profit organization that has sponsored the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage since 1969, along with other educational programs, the Manzanar Committee has also played a key role in the establishment and continued development of the Manzanar National Historic Site.

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Related Stories:

Lone Pine High School

 

Manzanar National Historic Site


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