Each year, towards the end of the DC program, students engage in a quiltmaking exercise. The TOMODACHI students learn that quiltmaking has played an important role in American history and culture, as a creative means of building community and telling stories (think of the AIDS quilt and the African American quilting tradition). Once again, under the guidance of Jacqueline Armstrong, mother of first-year TOMODACHI alumna and 2015 program intern Rebekah Armstrong, each student created a quilt panel that expressed what he or she had gained from their individual experience. Together the panels tell the collective story of their group experience. As she does each year, Mrs. Armstrong will stitch the panels together to create two works of art – one will remain in DC; the second will reside in Japan.
Here are the our 2016 TOMODACHI student panels:
A.O.: My panel shows how America and Japan are being combined in an Eagle, the national animal of America. It means that people from both countries are in the same place all together.
Ayane: My quilt panel expresses a good relationship between Japanese students and DC students. There are 18 people, it describes us and they’re holding hands. I wanted to show that even if we speak different languages, we can be good friends. I hope that this relationship will continue.
Elijah: My quilt is a shuriken in American flag colors because I like different types of weapons and one weapon that came to mind was a shuriken. I wanted to express the friendship and exchange of America and Japan. The drama masks are for my aspiration to be an actor.
H.K.: I gave an example of the bond between Japan and America through a common factor that represents me and what I love, watching baseball. Baseball exists in both countries and has played a role in making this relationship better several times. People with different backgrounds working through on the same task is something that was significant about this program. This is why I chose to draw a baseball field.
Maxx (Michael): The quilt I made symbolizes an effort for peace after war. There are cuts and swords in the vines that connect the two countries but even after the cut there are smaller vines trying to connect. After our shared war Japan and America have made a successful effort to make a bond.
R.H.: My quilt panel is about a hand in many skin colors drawing a Japan flag with the Washington Monument. I drew the Washington Monument because I saw it in DC and I liked it so much. The hand represents the diversity, and also I wanted to show that no matter the skin color, people are equal and all connected.
Rio: I drew flags of the U.S. and Japan which were modeled on cherry blossoms because Japan and Washington D.C. are both famous for them. I wanted to express the similarity and friendship of these countries.
Tempestt: My quilt is a heart with half of the Japanese flag, and also the half of the U.S. Flag. It has friendship written in Japanese with branches off to the meaning of the word “TOMODACHI”. WE ARE ALL ONE!
Yeysi: My quilt represent the nations that I feel in touch with. It is a puzzle that is surrounded by a river which represents different nations but the same world. I used El Salvador’s flag because this is where I am from. I carry with me the traditions, the food, the coexistence, and the belief that I can overcome any challenge. Sharing with others my Hispanic heritage makes me feel proud because each time I step out my house, I represent my country. Additionally, I also represent the United States as my second home. The United States is giving me the opportunity of triumph in life as has been in this program “TOMODACHI.”