2019 Katari Trip to Manzanar Was An Inspiring, Energizing Success – Photos

During the weekend of November 2-3, 2019, 14 college students from the Nikkei Student Unions at California State University (CSU) Fullerton, California Polytechnic University, Pomona, CSU Long Beach, the University of California (UC), Los Angeles, UC Riverside and UC San Diego made the trek from Southern California to the Manzanar National Historic Site for two days of intensive, experiential, place-based learning about the unjust incarceration of over 120,000 Japanese/Japanese Americans during World War II and more.

This group was the third cohort of students to participate in Katari: Keeping Japanese American Stories Alive, a project in which the Manzanar Committee partners with the National Park Service (NPS) and the six Nikkei Student Unions mentioned above.

Katari, which means, to tell stories in Japanese, seeks to bridge the generation gap that has made it much more difficult for young Japanese Americans to teach others about this history. Due to the shifting dynamics and demographics within the Japanese American community, including a growing recent immigrant population from Japan, and the younger generations, a large group of Japanese Americans are either two or three generations removed from the experiences of those who were forced to endure America’s concentration camps, or they have no connection to this history at all. As such, an increasing and alarming number of young people lack the knowledge and experience to be able to keep the stories of Japanese American incarcerees alive.

Katari is unique because it allows students to learn about Japanese American history through personal interaction, both with place (the Manzanar National Historic Site) and with former incarcerees who share their stories. In addition, representatives from the local indigenous groups share the long history of the Owens Valley Paiute and Shoshone at Manzanar, and about indigenous experiences of colonialism. Students are prompted to think about the connections between Japanese American World War II incarceration and other forms of incarceration in the United States and that forced relocation/forced removal has been the rule, rather than the exception, throughout American History, for minorities and people of color.

Sharing stories through intimate group discussions, walking tours, reflection, and various activities allows students to personally connect to history in a way that a textbook, documentary video or lecture cannot provide. It is that personal connection that prompts students to figure out what their role is in teaching Japanese American history.

For more information on Katari, check out the Katari page on our web site.

As stated earlier, our third cohort of students participated in this project, November 2-3. In the coming weeks, we’ll feature reflection pieces from each of our students, so you’ll get to hear from them about what they learned, observed, heard, and felt during that weekend, and (hopefully), about the impact their journey had on them. But while we wait for that, on behalf of the Manzanar Committee, I want to express our gratitude to the staff at Manzanar National Historic Site who were a big part of our weekend, especially ranger Rose Masters, who is the lead ranger working on the Katari project for the NPS—Rose is partially responsible for the creation of the project after coming up with the ground-floor idea that quickly grew to become much larger than she initially envisioned.

We can’t express enough gratitude to Minoru Tonai, who was incarcerated at the Amache concentration camp and Yoshiye Okimoto Hayashi, who was incarcerated at Manzanar (thank you to her daughter, Linda Solomon and her son, Cameron, too!). Both joined us (for Min, it was his second Katari trip) to share their stories and experiences with our students.

We also must thank our very own Pat Sakamoto, who was born behind the barbed wire at Manzanar. Pat has joined us for all three Katari trips.

We can’t thank Min, Yoshiye and Pat enough for their generosity and dedication to educating our students, who were absolutely enthralled by them. In fact, after this year’s program ended, our students surrounded Min, asking questions and listening to his stories for an additional 30 minutes. The only reason that didn’t last longer was because our vans had to head back to Southern California to ensure that our students were able to make it back to their campuses that night.

Thank you to Beverly Newell, an elder in the Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone community, who spoke to our students about the indigenous people of the Owens Valley who were forcibly removed from their homes throughout the valley, including Manzanar. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

We also want to thank Manzanar Committee member Vicky Perez, who has joined us on all three Katari trips to organize our lunches for both days.

We must also thank those of you who donated to our Katari project, either through our GoFundMe campaign or if you sent us a check. Your kindness and generosity ensured that all of our expenses were covered and that our students would not have to bear any of the expenses for meals, lodging and transportation. All they had to worry about was focusing on what was being presented to them and learning as much as they could.

And that is exactly what they did. So last, but not least, thank you to our 14 students. You responded very, very well to our challenge of being full participants in your own education. You were fully engaged. You asked wonderful questions and contributed insightful comments. By doing that, you inspired those of us who worked hard to make the weekend happen and we believe that you now have some of the tools needed to teach this history to others. You did yourselves proud. Great job!

As stated earlier, we’ll have more in the coming weeks. For now, here is a photo essay from the 2019 Katari trip.

LEAD PHOTO: 2019 Katari group photo at the cemetery, Manzanar National Historic Site, November 3, 2019. Photo: Gann Matsuda and Vicky Perez/Manzanar Committee.

2019 Katari – November 2-3, 2019, Manzanar National Historic Site

138 photos by Gann Matsuda. © 2019 Manzanar Committee. All rights reserved. Duplication prohibited without permission. Click on any photo to view a larger image and to scroll through the gallery.

Creative Commons License The Manzanar Committee’s Official web site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. You may copy, distribute and/or transmit any story or audio content published on this site under the terms of this license, but only if proper attribution is indicated. The full name of the author and a link back to the original article on this site are required. Photographs, graphic images, and other content not specified are subject to additional restrictions. Additional information is available at: Manzanar Committee Official web site – Licensing and Copyright Information.

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