Delegates Visit Wing Luke Museum, Hear from Internment Camp Survivor in Seattle

Manabu Taketani (Calvin College) and Mari Kobayashi (Waseda University) talk as they leave the Wing Luke Museum

On August 15th, the delegates of the 64th JASC had the opportunity to visit Seattle’s Wing Luke Museum and meet Ms. Mako Nakagawa, a survivor of Japanese-American incarceration during World War II. Both activities allowed JASCers to examine issues of identity and immigration uniquely related to U.S.-Japan relations.

The Wing Luke Museum is the only museum in the U.S. dedicated to sharing the pan-Asian-American experience. Located in an old hotel in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District, the Smithsonanian affiliated museum gives visitors a unique window on what it means to be an American. In the morning, each Roundtable went on a guided tour of the Museum that was tailored to their Roundtable topic. JASCers got to explore exhibits on Asian American identity, Asian American Female Fashion designers, George Nakashima’s artwork, the art of folding paper, and APA girls and suicide. These exhibits were diverse and fascinating. Each exhibit had something to offer each Roundtable and asked each delegate to examine their own perceptions of identity in the U.S. Moreover, each exhibit asked each delegate to rethink previous perceptions about topics ranging from furniture design to the immigrant experience. By raising such questions, JASCers were able to delve deeper into their own Roundtable topics in preparation for their Final Forum presentations.

After their tours, each Roundtable was given the chance to explore the International District for lunch. JASCers got to try everything from Vietnamese pho to Japanese sushi. Some groups were even lucky enough to venture to the Japanese bookstore, Kinokuniya, so that the American delegates could buy some Japanese goods!

In the afternoon, the delegates returned to the Wing Luke Museum to meet with Mako Nakagawa, a survivor of Japanese American incarceration during World War 2. Ms. Nakagawa was born and raised in Seattle. During the war, she and her family were forced into camps with the majority of Japanese Americans. After the war, Ms. Nakagawa returned to Seattle, where she later became an educator. She has been active in the Japanese American community in maintaining the memory of Japanese American incarceration. However, she is most passionate about changing the way people are educated about and think about the incarceration.

Her talk was engaging and inspiring. She spoke with our delegates about the power of words and understanding. As JASCers, we definitely understand the importance of these things! Ms. Nakagawa asked JASCers to think about what they say and how they treat others. Only if we do this can we hope to achieve the ideals of our nations.
Our day at the Wing Luke was both interesting and engaging. JASCers were asked to think and discuss deeply about what they had seen and heard. Each delegate took something different away from a day filled with questions and self examination.

More about the Wing Luke Museum can be found at their website: http://wingluke.org/home.htm

This article was written by Ms. Jillian Anderson, chair of the 64th JASC American Executive Committee. Jillian graduated from Colgate University with a B.A. in International Relations & Japanese in May and is currently on the job hunt. She can be reached at jasc64.anderson@gmail.com


 

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