Two Reflections on Visiting The Manzanar National Historic Site

During a session in which students read excerpts from oral histories of those who were unjustly
incarcerated at Manzanar during World War II, they began to connect Japanese American Incarceration
to their own experiences with racism, inequality and injustice. The result was a very powerful and emotional discussion. That’s Moet Kurakata and Lauren Matsumoto in front (left and right, respectively)
Photo: Gann Matsuda/Manzanar Committee
(click above to view larger image)

Editor’s Note: Moet Kurakata and Lauren Matsumoto were participants in the Manzanar Committee’s pilot project, Keeping Japanese American Incarceration Stories Alive, which took a group of college students to the Manzanar National Historic Site for a two-day, intensive, placed-based learning experience about the unjust incarceration of Japanese and Japanese Americans in concentration camps during World War II. For more on this project, we urge you to read about it here.

Kurakata, 23 is a senior at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she is the Community Activities and Cultural Awareness Committee Chair of the Nikkei Student Union at UCLA. Matsumoto, 21, is in her third year at the University of California, San Diego, where she is the past Cultural Awareness Chair of the UCSD Nikkei Student Union.

Both shared the following reflections on what they experienced at Manzanar during those two days.

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Keeping Japanese American Incarceree Stories Alive – Pilot Project A Huge Success

Students listening to a presentation on the Manzanar “Riot.” Seated around the table (foreground,
from front to back): Erica Wei (left), Lauren Matsumoto (right), Brian Kohaya (back left),
Moet Kurakata (back middle), Maru Streets (back right).
Photo: Gann Matsuda/Manzanar Committee

by Jason Fujii and Wendi Yamashita

Last summer, the Manzanar Committee, in partnership with National Park Service staff at Manzanar National Historic Site, launched a new project, Keeping Japanese American Incarceration Stories Alive, to take college-age youth to the Manzanar National Historic Site for an intensive, place-based learning experience about the unjust incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Initiated by National Park Service Ranger Rose Masters and generously funded by community donations through a crowdfunding campaign, along with a few individual donations, this pilot project sought to address and bridge the generation gap—recent immigrant families from Japan and their children also have no direct connection to this history—that has made it difficult for young Japanese Americans to teach others about this important history.

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Students Rise To The Challenge of Keeping Japanese American Incarceration Stories Alive – Photos

A group photo at the Manzanar cemetery monument. Front (from left): Brian Kohaya, Rose Masters.
Back (from left): Jason Fujii, Alisa Lynch, Erica Wei, Bruce Embrey, Moet Kurakata,
Gann Matsuda, Lauren Matsumoto, Maru Streets, Mark Hatchmann.
Photo: Gann Matsuda/Manzanar Committee

LOS ANGELES — More information about the Manzanar Committee’s project, Keeping Japanese American Incarceration Stories Alive, most notably, our first trip taking college students to the Manzanar National Historic Site for a weekend of intensive, place-based learning about the Japanese American Incarceration, March 10-11, 2018, is forthcoming in the weeks ahead.

Initially, we’ll share a bunch of photos with you, along with what we posted on Facebook:

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Manzanar Committee Seeks Community Support For New Youth Education Project

College students will travel to the Manzanar National Historic Site this October for two days of intensive
experiential, place-based learning as part of the Manzanar Committee’s new program,
Keeping Japanese American Incarceration Stories Alive.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: Gann Matsuda/Manzanar Committee

LOS ANGELES — On August 20, the Manzanar Committee launched a new project aimed at educating college-age youth about the unjust incarceration of over 110,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans during World War II, and providing them with tools to help them teach that critical history to others.

Keeping Japanese American Incarceration Stories Alive is a project of the Manzanar Committee, in partnership with the National Park Service, and the Nikkei Student Unions at California State University, Long Beach, California Polytechnic University, Pomona, the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of California, San Diego.

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