First we started with three words:
Then we had to find examples of each word for each of the activities we completed the days prior. This task was hard since more of them leaned towards a certain word and we just had to think of random things that correlated with the event we were writing about.
Afterwards we watched a movie called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard”. The film was centered around the connection between the kids from Honkawa elementary school and the congregation from All Souls Church. This film took in the context of the World War II bombings in Japan and after the bombing in Hiroshima, All Souls Church gathered school supplies and sent them to the kids from Honkawa elementary school. The kids leaped with joy and said that the school supplies smell like America and used them with all their little hearts content to draw pictures–bright, colorful, optimistic pictures. Then sent them to the church, as a thank you gift. People in the church were surprised at the vitality in the pictures even though they were drawn in what one would presume as dark, dull and lifeless times. The pictures were hidden in a box for decades but were later rediscovered, and displayed in the church. After a while, the congregation of the church decided to give the pictures back to the students, many many many years later.
We had talks from two people: Shizumi Manale, the producer of “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard,” and Mary Murakami, a survivor of the Japanese incarceration after the bombing on Pearl Harbor. Both talks were equally impacting. From Mrs. Manale instilling inspiration in the hearts of all the people sitting in that room that no matter what happens, one should follow their dreams, to Mrs. Murakami who spent three years of her teenage life imprisoned in small cells, with nothing to do but go to school, as she graduated high school while in the camp. One of my favorite parts of her talk was when she told us how strict the policies for intergender teenage relationships were. During the one time of year all the teens were looking forward to, a dance, if a boy and girl wanted to dance near each other, they would have to stand approximately a foot away from each other, otherwise their parents would be called. She still tells her story because the Japanese internment was based off of fear after the attack on Pearl Harbor, then after the war it was deemed wrong and the incarcerated Japanese families received compensation of $20,000 each. She still tells her story because the U.S is still judging off of fear, for instance, after 9/11 Islamophobia began to increase, especially after other terrorist attacks, like the Orlando nightclub shooting. Now travel bans are being issued to certain countries, whose citizens wish to emigrate to the United States.
We were supposed to go the memorial of the Japanese American Patriotism in World War II but it was too hot, so we decided to stay inside and do writing exercises. First, we put ourselves in the shoes of two people: an 8 year old, on their way to school–but then their school is bombed, and a 16 year old, whose family is rounded up and sent to camps. We were supposed to write just one, but me being a scholar, I decided to divide the time and write both. I prefer my second one where I wrote about the 8 year old. I liked it more because it focused more towards the future than my previous paragraph.
Lastly we went to an evening activity with Words, Beats & Life where we explored hip-hop by learning to freestyle and to DJ. I listen to a lot of rap music, and I can rap to those, but making my own is a different thing. First we learned to freestyle by picking three words that rhyme and putting them into a phrase that coincides with the beat. Everyone had a laugh at the people in the booth trying their best to create a rap in their head and say it in that same moment. Afterwards we tried DJ-ing, which was more complicated to me, but it was easy to get the hang of it. I loved to sing along to the songs that I liked, but no one could outsing Shawma. She loved, danced, and sang, to almost every song the DJ tried to mix into another song that she would love, and sing, and dance to.
The day was educational and fun at the same time. It was a fun bonding experience for the TOMODACHI students now that I think we’re finally settling into the fact that we’d be spending the next month together.
Here are some pictures I took during the Words, Beat & Life activity:
Banneker Academic HS