Quilting is an important cultural tradition used by Americans from many different walks of life to tell their stories and to share important episodes in history. This year, midpoint in the DC half of the program, Jacqueline Strong-Armstrong led students in a quiltmaking workshop designed to give our student participants the opportunity to tell the story of their 2017 TOMODACHI experience. Mrs. Armstrong is the mother of Rebekah Armstrong, a 2013 TOMODACHI USJYEP alumna. This is her fourth year leading our quilting workshop.
Yuuki: I taught how to make paper cranes with Origami to DC kids, and I learned a lot of things from teaching them. I drew two paper cranes facing the same way because i wanted to show that people from Japan and the U.S. head toward the same goal, which is to make a better world through this program.
Bryson: Whenever our group has to go through a door, I make sure to hold it open. The open door on my quilt fragment not only represents my self-appointed job in TOMODACHI, but also the possibilities that traveling to new places creates. I left the space behind the door blank because the possibilities are endless, and I wanted to reference the ukiyo-e art style.
Ryotaro: I drew this picture of two people facing each other because we can understand each other by looking and knowing each other. The left side represents the Japanese with little diversity and colors; the right side represents Americans, with two colors for African Americans and wihite people, who make up the majority of the American population. Between the faces, a red eye (symbol of the Japanese flag) is looking to the American flag from the bottom. There are some struggles looking between the narrow space between the noses. Also the bottom space is narrow. However, when looking through to America, I think my perspective was broadened in the end.
Chi: For my quilt, I drew a globe with the American and Japanese flags on their respective sides and TOMODACHI written in Japanese between the flags. I chose to do it because I really like the kanji for friend. So since TOMODACHI means friend in Japanese, I wanted to display the friendship between the US and Japan.
Rey: I drew a picture of a handshake and colored in with the flags of America and Japan, which represents friendship and strong bonds between two people from completely different countries. The American hand has music and hearts coming out to show people can feel connected through music. The Japanese hand has sakura and hearts flowing out because cherry blossoms were a gift from Japan to DC and I feel the respect whenever people in DC explain about it.
Ko: I drew two marks – equal (=) and infinity (∞). It means equal forever. I drew Japanese and American flags within. And I drew the rainbow flag. I made it look like a race track – meaning “unite as a human race.”