In 2009, Global Source completed our pilot year of an K-12 educational development project called, “Only What We Can Carry”. It was generously funded by a grant from the Washington Civil Liberties Public Education Program. The purpose of this project was to demonstrate how a lived experience for educators around a topic of study such as the internment can inform and shape a more enlivened curriculum for the students they serve.
This project was centered around a professional travel study experience retracing the 1942 journey of Japanese Americans from Bainbridge Island to the former Manzanar War Relocation Center, in Independence, California, now a National Historic Site run by the U.S. Park Service. The four day trip was taken in May 2009.
We invited two teams of elementary teachers from school local to Bainbridge Island, who had already responsible for this area of study in their core curriculum. Bill Covert and Warren Read teach fourth grade at Wilkes Elementary on Bainbridge Island. Gail Davis is a multiage teacher and Mary Fox is a teacher librarian at Breidablik Elementary in neighboring Poulsbo, WA. All focus on the study of Japanese American Internment on Bainbridge Island and related topics of study in their curricula.
Our team of educators were accompanied by several Japanese Americans from Bainbridge Island who are former detainees who lived through the internment as children and young adults. We were honored to have Lilly Kodama and Frank Kitamoto join us. As sister and brother, they were 7 and 3 when their family was interned in 1942. This was their first trip back.
We were privileged to have Bainbridge Island resident Kay Sakai Nakao accompany us on this journey, who was 22 when she was sent with her family to Manzanar. At age 89, this was her second trip back to the former concentration camp.
We were also joined by Mary Woodward, daughter of Walt and Milly Woodward, who were the editors of the Bainbridge Review during the years of WWII and ran the only paper in the US that offered Japanese-Americans a voice and vital link with their Island community. Mary recently authored a book about her parents, WWII and the Internment called: “In Defense of our Neighbors”, which contains a rich collection of facts, photographs and artifacts we will be drawing from for this project.