2020-21 Katari Program Taught “Stories and Lessons That I Will Carry on for the Rest of My Life, and Pass Them Down to Others”

Editor’s Note: The 2020-21 Katari program, which is usually held in early November at the Manzanar National Historic Site, had to be moved to an online format due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the loss of the extremely important placed-based learning component of the program, by all accounts, it seems that we were able to deliver an effective and meaningful educational program for our students, who will be sharing their thoughts about their Katari experience over the next few weeks.

Katari. The definition of Katari in Japanese is “to tell stories,” and the entire weekend was exactly that.

At first, I had no idea how this virtual experience was going to be, and honestly, I had no idea what to expect for the next sixteen hours. My experience was eye-opening, overwhelming, astonishing, and emotional. I had the honor and privilege of being able to listen to former incarcerees, rangers, and many others. I learned countless stories and lessons that I will carry on for the rest of my life, and pass them down to others.

My favorite part was listening to former incarcerees share their perspective and experiences in the camps and how it affected their lives after camp. One big takeaway for me was realizing some incarcerees were embarrassed to be Japanese because everyone treated them terribly. This perspective showed me people’s actions and words hurt more deeply than anyone could imagine.

Overall, it was a very vulnerable and intimate Katari session that I will never forget. As I grow older, I hope to inspire others with stories that have inspired me. I am so thankful I got the opportunity of a lifetime to be a participant in such an amazing program that seeks to keep stories alive.

Kristin Wong, 19, is in her second year at California Polytechnic University, Pomona (CPP) where she is studying Nutrition. The Orange County, California native serves as the Director of Cultural Affairs for the CPP Nikkei Student Union. She also serves on the 2021 Manzanar At Dusk organizing committee.

LEAD PHOTO: Kristin Wong. Photo courtesy Kristin Wong..

The views expressed in this story are those of the author, and are not necessarily those of the Manzanar Committee.

The views expressed in this story are those of the author, and are not necessarily those of the Manzanar Committee.

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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