Editor’s Note: The 2021-22 Katari program, held this year during the January 15-16, 2022 weekend, is usually held in early November at the Manzanar National Historic Site. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it had to be moved to an online format for the second consecutive year.
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. Each of them will be reflecting on their Katari experiences, which we will share here on our web site over the coming weeks.
Before participating in Katari, I knew little about Japanese American Incarceration, and Executive Order 9066. I learned more through the Cal Poly Pomona Nikkei Student Union, but after Katari, I realized there was so much more than what had already been shown to me.
Katari allowed me to look at the different perspectives there were when learning about the people and events that happened during this time. Even though I am not Japanese or Japanese American, I was able to hear the stories of the people and feel their emotions. I yearned to learn more, and I wanted to share the stories with others.
As a kid, I was exposed to Japanese American Incarceration a couple of times. The first was in middle school, when we read a poem about a friendship that was being broken up, as one girl was sent to an internment camp. Even though I was able to hear a bit of the history of Japanese American Incarceration, the class discussion focused more on the friendship than the reasons they were being separated.
The second time was in high school, when we read Farewell to Manzanar in my sophomore English class. But we never got into the specifics of the internment. I didn’t realize that truth until I was a first-year student in NSU.
After participating in Katari, I gained a greater understanding of this history, and I heard stories from truly magnificent people. The individual stories that everyone shared helped me gain a better understanding of what happened. There are many instances in which people’s decisions affected the rest of their lives, simply because of things that were not under their control. These two days of learning so much were very eye-opening to me, and it was exactly what I wish I was taught at a younger age.
My Katari experience made me want to spread awareness about this history, because if I didn’t know anything about it before partipating in Katari, how many others don’t know about it, either?
It would be beneficial for future generations to have knowledge of what happened in the past, so they can avoid the same mistakes. It is important to take a moment to consider future generations and make sure that we don’t allow the fear and differences between us to divide us, but rather reflect on what has brought us together.
20-year old Jeremie Javallana is in her third year at California Polytechnic University, Pomona (CPP), where she is studying Food Science and Technology. The Fullerton, California native is the President of the CPP Nikkei Student Union, and she serves on the 2022 Manzanar At Dusk Organizig Committee.
LEAD PHOTO: Jeremie Javallana. Photo courtesy of Jeremie Javallana.
The views expressed in this story are those of the author, and are not necessarily those of the Manzanar Committee.
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