Educators Approach Study of Japanese American Exclusion, Summer ’14


In early August, classroom teachers, National Park Service staff, and heritage site docents attended a day long workshop  on Approaching the Study of Japanese American Exclusion in Elementary and Secondary Education. Part of the Only What We Can Carry project (OWWCC), the class was led by Jon Garfunkel and Katy Curtis, co-director of OWWCC and Education Outreach for BI History Museum.

The class was situated at the EduCulture home base on Historic Suyematsu Farm and included site visits to the  Bainbridge Island Historical Museum and the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial.

Participants were introduced to primary and secondary sources that enabled them to follow the lives of Bainbridge Island Japanese American families who immigrated from Japan, established livelihoods, became citizens, then were forced into concentration camps during WWII.  After having viewed pertinent documentary footage that included accounts from those families who were affected by the internment, it was particularly moving to have the opportunity to meet original Bainbridge Islanders whose families lived through WWII and the Exclusion.  Our guest speakers included Kay Nakao, Lilly Kodama, Mary Woodward, and Vern Nakata.  With their workshop packet, participants received a copy of Mary Woodward’s book, “In Defense of Our Neighbors”.

These educators left the workshop with a newfound ability to bear witness and bring this period of history alive for their students, as well as gaining tools they can utilize in the future for field classes and learning experiences for anyone seeking to learn more about this time in our country’s history.