STOP TREATING PEOPLE AS EXOTIC OTHERS

Of course, we want to introduce students to the wider world. But teachers have unwittingly introduced other groups and cultures as if those groups were the exotic others.Human zoo

For example, schools hold International Festivals that have the flavor of “look at these unusual foreign people.” When groups of people are seen as exotic or patronizingly precious that are no longer “real” people.

Plus, the people of the world are not only international. They are here. They are Americans, Americans with a wide array of viewpoints and desires. They are people to recognize, appreciate, respectfully disagree with, live with, love with, work with and study with on a day-to-day basis, not just once a year.

Without intending to, we can keep a group of people at arm’s length while, at the same time, giving ourselves the false feeling that we are being inclusive.

We want to remember that as recent as the 1950s, people from other parts of the world as well as African and Native Americans were displayed in the U.S. as if animals in a zoo. The displays were often part of a continuum that ranked groups from apes to real people i.e. Europeans. Without meaning to, our study of other cultures can have a tinge of the same feeling.

It takes more time, thought and true connections with people with whom we’ve had less experience to be able to honor the complexity and variety within other cultures as well as understand our own cultural backgrounds with their unique histories, oddities and perspectives.

The Hmong and Schools: Creating Culturally Sensitive Classroom

Hmong story quilts
will sometimes display
political messages,
or scenes of war.

RaceBridges highlights a group of Asian American people who are rarely heard about but have much to say : The Hmong.

The Hmong people are an immigrant group to America. They came to the U.S. in the 1970s . The Hmong are an Asian ethnic group from the mountainous regions of China, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. The brief ideas and activities below will promote further study, not only of the Hmong American community but of the arrival of the very many and varied groups of immigrants that have made up America.

What is it like to be an immigrant in America? Often, it is a confusing place to live. Laws and beliefs are different in a new country. Language becomes a significant barrier, and customs are critiqued by all. Below are some basic beliefs and behaviors of the Hmong culture. See if you can identify potential problems when not familiar with American laws and customs. 

Hmong culture, in general, believes:

  • Girls are ready for marriage by the age of 13 or 14 years old, usually to an older man. American law considers this child abuse.
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  • Marriages are often done through Hmong culture and not through U.S. legal channels. This makes life difficult for Hmong women if there is a divorce or abandonment because it was not recognized as a legal marriage in the U.S. to begin with. There is also belief in polygamy in the culture – problematic all the way around.
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  • Girls who marry young will usually have children young, preventing them from finishing high school. This perpetuates the Hmong struggle for education.
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  • Hmong people value the family greatly, and desire for everyone to be together. Ten to twelve people may live in housing intended for 3-4. Rental housing in America usually has limitations on how many people can live in a specific space.
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  • Older generations of Hmong have the understanding that wilderness belongs to everyone, and is available for hunting or anything else. The concept that open land might be privately owned is a foreign concept to them. This can bring about great problems, due to simple misunderstanding and cultural differences.
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How do students feel about the Hmong population in America? How can schools and teachers learn about the cultural differences, and foster positive attitudes among students? Below are a few bits of information about attitudes toward the Hmong people, and a few tips for developing a culturally sensitive classroom.

Attitude toward the Hmong:

Americans find it difficult to distinguish Hmong from Vietnamese or other Asian groups.

Culturally Sensitive Classroom Tip:

  • Invite all students to talk about their cultural heritages. Encourage activities that blend the cultures and offer understanding.

Attitude:

Americans are perplexed by the rituals and music of the Hmong culture.

Tip:

  • Set aside a cultural appreciation day, encouraging students to bring in physical objects and music of their culture. Share an instrument or a song in the classroom.
  • Allow students to share information about traditions of their culture or explain the meaning behind the ritual or music. Celebrate the uniqueness of culture!

Attitude:

Americans do not understand why or how the Hmong came to be in U.S.

Tip:

  • Offer lessons that supply historical information about the Hmong contribution during the Vietnam War. Explain what happened during that time. Simply make the information available to students, as most probably have no idea of the historical background of the Hmong people or how they came to America.
  • Invite an elder of the Hmong community to share his/her experiences with the class.
  • Provide printed materials, photos or articles that give additional facts for students to absorb. Students thrive on “hands-on” activities.

Attitude:

Americans have little knowledge of the history or background of the Hmong culture.

Tip:

  • Talk about the Hmong culture! Implement a lesson about the Vietnam War that includes the Hmong involvement in it.
  • Ask an elder of the Hmong community to share knowledge, rituals, traditions, beliefs, experiences, etc. with the class.

Attitude:

Americans view the Hmong people as hard-working and polite, but uneducated.

Tip:

  • Stress the importance and value of being a hard-worker in the American society.
  • Being polite is equally valued, but is sometimes seen as a lack of assertiveness. With a large population of Hmong in Minnesota (the state where politeness is referred to as “Minnesota Nice” because the people are overwhelmingly polite), this quality is genuinely appreciated and valued.
  • Be open with students about the background of the Hmong people – that they came from Laos where there was simply no need for education. The people lived in the lovely countryside with family enmeshed all around. Great academic strides have been made for the Hmong. Celebrate their achievements.

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Sources:

http://www.everyculture.com/multi/Ha-La/Hmong-Americans.html. (2012). Retrieved 1 21, 2012, from Every Culture: http://www.everyculture.com/multi/Ha-La/Hmong-Americans.html

(2008, 9 13). Retrieved 1 21, 2012, from Asian Week: http://www.asianweek.com/2008/09/13/persistent-invisibility-hmong-americans-are-silenced/

Lindsay, J. (2012). http://www.jefflindsay.com/hmong-clash.html. Retrieved 1 21, 2012, from http://www.jefflindsay.com/hmong-clash.html

Reflections on Minidoka

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Introduction:

Searching for a resource for Japanese American experiences in World War II relocation camps? Alton Chung tells the true story of his journey and encounter with an 89 year old former internee who made her first visit after 66 years. This personal and challenging story is food for thought for all of us.

Summary:

Alton Chung relates the true story of his journey to the Minidoka Relocation Camp site at Hunt, Idaho and of his encounter there with an 89 year old former internee. She was 23 years old when she left this Japanese American incarceration camp and this was her first visit back to the site after 66 years.

Touring the old camp evokes emotions and thoughts of loved ones and life at Minidoka during World War II. The internee shares personal memories of that time and how the internment affected her life. The story provides a view of relocation camps that allows us to experience the difficulties encountered and, hopefully, encourages us to think differently about others.

Classroom Applications:

  • Create a webquest (an online scavenger hunt) for students to uncover information about incarceration camps
  • Visit a WWII museum
  • Write journal prompts for students to respond to daily.

Watch the video now

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Explore our many other RaceBridges videos for
Asian American Month or any other time of the year.

MULTIPLE ANCIENT MIGRATIONS FROM ASIA INTO THE AMERICAS?

We already know that Columbus did not “discover” America as there were people hairalready living here. But what if some of the first to settle in the northern hemisphere weren’t even First Nations but Asians?

A team of Danish scientists have uncovered a tuft of dark brown hair in Greenland that has led them to theorize that 4000 years ago there was a tribe of humans that trekked from North Asian to settle into what is now called Greenland. The DNA collected from the hair traces back to Asians, not Native Americans or the Inuit people who live there now.

This suggests that the first humans to colonize the American Arctic were Asians/Siberians, distinct from the first people who arrived in America more than 14,000 years ago.

Of course, the research goes on but the theory suggests that the travels of early Asian groups may have been wider than previously considered and that perhaps there were multiple migrations from the Bering region into the American Arctic.

Incarceration

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Incarceration
A Short Video Story
by Anne Shimojima

Introduction:

Have you ever wondered what life would be like if the government had imprisoned your entire family? For Anne Shimojima, this was the experience of her grandparents and their children. In this touching story, Anne tells of what life was like behind the barbed wire fences and the inadequate housing. Looking past what is unspoken, Anne reveals details of life for Japanese Americans in incarceration camps during WWII.

Summary:

Curious as to her family’s experiences in incarceration camps during WWII, storyteller Anne Shimojima explains how she uncovered details to her family’s past. For whatever reason, many Japanese Americans do no talk about their experiences during this time. Anne was able to dig into her family history and speak with relatives who then shared details of what life was like in these camps.

Armed with a deeper and more personal understanding of what her grandparents had endured in the incarceration camp, Anne reveals a hidden world when she is able to describe the camp itself. She explains how she was brought closer to her grandparents and better understands the indignities they suffered, the sacrifices they made, and the hopes they had for future generations.

Classroom Applications:

  • Invite grandparents of students to come to class and share a story from their life
  • Explore geneology or create a family tree
  • Watch videos or read literature the helps students to better understand historical events..

Watch the video now

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Explore our many other RaceBridges Studio videos and lessons

for Asian American month or any time of the year.

 

Immigrant Story: a Chinese Family in the US

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Immigrant Story: a Chinese Family in the US
A Short Video Story

by Nancy Wang

 

Introduction:

RaceBridges pays tribute to the many Asian Americans who have helped build and enrich America. Nancy Wang paints a true life picture of her Chinese American immigrant family’s struggles and ingenuity in the Monterey, CA area. This story is a great resource for understanding the contributions of Asian American immigrants to America.

Summary:

This story follows the journey of Nance Wang’s ancestors who arrived in California on a junk boat in 1850 and the adversities encountered along the way to America. Upon arriving, Nancy’s family started the fishing industry of the Monterey Peninsula, which proved to be lucrative but not without opposition. Both legal and illegal violence ensued against them for generations.

Although America was a land of opportunity, unfair regulations and restrictions caused great difficulties for the hard-working Chinese Americans. This story reveals how a group of immigrants rallied with resilience and ingenuity so that the 7th generation of Chinese Americans thrives today.

The unimaginable challenges faced by Nancy’s family in this true story are thought-provoking and provide insight for us to appreciate our differences as well as make changes in how we think of others. With understanding, we can feel their pain and change our world for the better.

Classroom Applications:

  • Read literature written by Chinese Americans(see this link for some names: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_American_literature)
  • Write biographies of famous Chinese Americans
  • Create a cultural food tasting day, where students bring in foods from various cultures for all to taste and learn about.

Watch the video now

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Explore our many other RaceBridges Videos for

Asian American Month or any time of the year.

 

Immigrant Stories of Empowerment

“We are a country of immigrants. Almost all of our citizens have roots in other countries. Unless you are a full-blooded Native American, either you or one of your ancestors journeyed to the United States. Maybe it was your parents. Maybe it was someone 300 years ago. But someone in your family, for whatever reason, was uprooted from home and culture, and traveled here, making the United States his or her new home” (Gretchen Morgan).

America is the great melting pot of culture and diversity. That is how our country started, and continues to become more and more diverse as time goes by. We must celebrate our many cultures and our many stories of the journey to America. Schools and teachers need to recognize that students come from a wide array of backgrounds. The more these backgrounds are embraced, the greater the learning will be.  

Below are a few links to find stories of immigration. Share them with your students. Encourage them to write and share their own family story of immigration.

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Morgan, G. (n.d.). Retrieved 5 4, 2012, from Immigrant Journeys.com: http://www.immigrantjourneys.com/

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Go to the many stories and short videos about immigration and other diversity themes on our RaceBridges Studio Sites. 

Our History is Our Strength : Women’s History Month

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Listen to these Women Stories
in your classroom . . .

Bearing witness to the heroic
actions and words of women

Telling inspiring stories
that are little known
and rarely told . . .

 

 Listen to these stories and use the lesson plans with your students
of moving stories of inclusion and exclusion, loss and hope, past
and present. Use these stories in your classroom to inspire and
challenge your students to reflect on their world-view and to broaden
their horizons.

Use these stories as discussion starters for a faculty in-service session
to prompt and animate discussion about race-relations and inclusion.

These lesson plans come with complete text as well as audio, teacher guides,
student activities and further resources on related themes.  You may also find
corresponding videos on our sister site, RaceBridgesVideos.com.

These units are also suitable for young adult group discussion as
springboards on the subjects of race and racism.

 

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Anne

Anne Shimojima

Japanese American Storyteller Anne Shimojima tells her original story Hidden Memory: Incarceration: Knowing Your Family’s Story and Why it Matters. About her family in the United States, especially during the time of World War II when some of her family were sent to the Japanese-American incarceration camps. Explores in an engaging way xenephobia, racism and being “unseen” in society.Courage and resiliance in a story that is rarely told.

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Watch videos

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Download lesson plan and audio story

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olga1

Olga Loya

Latina Storyteller Olga Loya tells excerpts from her original story: Being Mexican American : Caught Between Two Worlds – Nepantla. Growing up Mexican American in Los Angeles. Caught between the Latino and Anglo cultures, she realizes that she might belong to an even wider family and community and that perhaps there is a way to live with them all. Warm and spirited.

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Watch Videos

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Download lesson plan and audio story

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gene

Gene Tagaban

Native American storyteller Gene Tagaban remembers Elizabeth Peratrovich, Tlingit woman, of Petersburg, Alaska. She attended Western Washington State University. When she returned with a new husband to live in Juno, no one would rent her a home because she was native. This was the limit to Elizabeth. She said: “No more signs. We need better housing, good jobs and good education for the people. And the right to sit wherever we wanted.” Gene Tagaban lovingly remembers the life of Elizabeth Peratrovich through the stories told to him by his own grandmother. The story remembers the shining day, after much struggle and bigotry of the passage of the Alaskan Anti-Discrimination Bill in1945, 20 years before Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back of the bus. This account is part of Gene Tagaban’s longer story of identity and belonging : Search Across the Races : I Am Indopino … Or How to Answer the Question : “Who Are You?”.

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Download lesson plan and audio story

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dovie

Dovie Thomason

Native American storyteller Dovie Thomason tells her true story: The Spirit Survives: The American Indian Boarding School Experience: Then and Now. This story weaves together personal narrative and historical accounts about the Indian boarding schools to reveal how they were used to decimate native culture and how some Indians stood up to them. Shocking and Inspiring.

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Download lesson plan and audio story

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linda

Linda Gorham

African American storyteller Linda Gorham tells two stories. One is I Am Somebody : Story Poems for Pride and Power. This an upbeat and moving celebration of Linda’s family tree and heritage. The lesson plan guides teachers to invite “pride poems” from their students. In her story Rosa Parks : One of Many Who Sat Down to Stand Up Linda personalizes the words and actions in a story of the famed Rosa Parks. The lesson plan explores the many other heroes of the civil rights movement who “sat down’ to stand up for justice. Self-worth, dignity and courage come alive.

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Download lesson plans with audio stories

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Watch Videos

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Celebrating Women : Bridgebuilders and Storytellers

Ideas for bringing the universal subject of Women into your classroom.

RaceBridges honors Women’s History Month each year in the month of March. But gender equality is an important diversity issue that can be explored at any time. So we re-publish here our lesson plan for Women’s History Month in this Resource format. We remember that any time in the school year is a good time to explore the struggle for women’s equality and the ideals still not yet

fulfilled. We trust that these ideas, classroom activities and recommended links will be of help for you and your students in exploring this subject.

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Evacuation

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Evacuation

 

A Short Video Story

 

by Anne Shimojima

 

Introduction:

Interested in knowing what life was really like for Japanese Americans following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941? Take a journey with storyteller Anne Shimojima as she tells not only her own personal family experiences of the event, but relates the difficulties faced by many Japanese Americans at the onset of WWII.

Summary:

With honest and detailed reflection, storyteller Anne Shimojima tells the personal story of the forced evacuation of her grandparents following the attack on Pearl Harbor. While setting the stage with warm recollections of who her grandfather was, she interlaces historical facts to build a foundation of awareness.

Relating hardships faced my many Japanese Americans, Shimojima explains how prejudice and discrimination resulted from unadulterated rumor and fear. She recounts the bitterness that she saw in the faces of her loved ones, and how their experiences in the forced evacuation profoundly affected her family. Listen as she brings a new understanding to a long misunderstood and overlooked aspect of American history.

Classroom Applications:

  • Invite a guest speaker who experiences persecution to come to share stories with students
  • Watch the short film The Wave to show students how people are easily influenced when fear and rumor are involved (film is easily found online)
  • Create a set of interview questions, and have students interview an older family member or friend.

Watch the video now

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Explore our many other RaceBridges Studios videos for

Asian American Month or any time of the year.

 

Challenges Asian Americans Face Today

How much do you and your students know about Asian Americans? Do they know the discrimination Asian Americans still face today?

 

Research shows that Asian Americans are one of the fastest growing victims of hate crimes in America. 17% of Asian American boys in grades 5 through 12 reported physical abuse, as compared to 8% among white boys. 30% of Asian American girls in grades

5 through 12 reported depressive symptoms, as compared to white girls (22%), African American girls (17%), or Hispanic girls (27%).

14% of Asian Americans live below the poverty line, compared to 13% of the U.S. population.

In addition, while jobs pay Euro Americans $522 per every additional year of education beyond high school, Asian Americans make $379 per every additional year of education. According to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Asian-American men born in the United States are 7 percent to 11 percent less likely to hold managerial jobs than white men with the same educational and experience level.

The Hmong People – Who are They?

flowercloth

The artistic textile tradition of
Paj Ntaub (“Flower Cloth”)
of the Hmong culture.

Although a large population of Hmong is centralized in the mid-west and California, the background of this culture is often a mystery or is misunderstood by many Americans. So, who are the Hmong people? How did they arrive on American shores? What are their hardships?

Below is a brief bit of history of these courageous people, highlighting some struggles of both their past and present circumstances. Included also are some tips for teachers when working with Hmong students and families.

Who are they?

  • The Hmong are often mistaken as being Chinese or Vietnamese..
  • Mainly from Laos, the Hmong in the U.S. came as refugees after the Vietnam War..
  • They have religious beliefs in animism (the use of shamans for guidance, healing, and ceremonies)..
  • Asian Hmong have backgrounds in agriculture..
  • They are relatively new to the U.S., as Hmong arrival to the U.S. was only around 30 years ago..

How and why did they come to America?

  • Much of the older Hmong generation fought for America in what is known as a secret war, recruited by the CIA to battle powerful communist forces..
  • When America left Vietnam (after the Vietnam War), the Hmong people were left behind. Trusting the U.S. promise that they would be taken care of because of their service to the U.S., the Hmong felt abandoned when America left. The North Vietnamese marked them for extinction. What followed were torture, murder, and desperation..
  • Many simply fled for survival, and many perished in the harrowing escape. Others were trapped in the hillsides and mountains of the country..
  • Arrival to America meant safety for the Hmong, but new challenges immediately emerged..

What are their struggles – past and present?

  • The older generation of Hmong carries with them chilling tales of survival and horror of life before coming to America..
  • Upon arrival, many Hmong endured neglect in refugee camps and separation from family members..
  • Culture shock only added to the scarred and tragic background of the new arrivals, as Hmong culture is vastly different from that of American culture..
  • Language is a significant obstacle for the Hmong people in America..
  • The older generation fears the loss of Hmong heritage as they try to fit into American culture..
  • Most Americans do not know the story of how/why the Hmong people arrived to the U.S., and many are insensitive to the culture..

For Teachers and Leaders working with Hmong students and families:

  • The language of the Hmong people is very different from that of English. The language itself is a tonal language, and it is not known if there was ever a written language of the Hmong. Because of this, words and sentences are formed unlike that of English. Plurals, articles, and others nuances will be noticeably misplaced in writing samples. It is a language issue, not an inability issue..
  • Have translators available for school functions: phone calls home, conferences, meetings, etc..
  • Understand that family is vitally important to the Hmong, even at the cost of education. Older generation members often have had little to no schooling prior to coming to America..
  • Many of the older Hmong feel that their heritage has been (or is being) lost as a result of fleeing to America. Try to bridge this gap by welcoming families to the school/classroom. Have a cultural day, and invite families to school for the day..
  • Encourage the sharing of stories, as this is an essential aspect of Hmong culture..
  • Recognize that English will likely be a second language to students, and that it will likely not be spoken at home. Homework will be difficult to complete at home, as parents will probably not speak that language or be familiar with the work..

Check out these websites for further information about the Hmong people:

http://www.jefflindsay.com/hmong.shtml

http://www.jefflindsay.com/Hmong_tragedy.html#tragic

http://www.everyculture.com/multi/Ha-La/Hmong-Americans.html

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Source:

Lindsay, J. (2009). http://www.jefflindsay.com/Hmong_tragedy.html#class. Retrieved 1 21, 2012, from http://www.jefflindsay.com/Hmong_tragedy.html#class

Bittersweet: A Chinese American Daughter’s Legacy

The stories offered here—Immigrant History and Mom’s Story—come from Chinese American storyteller, Nancy Wangs longer story Bittersweet: A Chinese American Daughter’s Legacy. In this story, Wang explores the history of her own family, beginning with the immigration of her great-great-grandparents from China to the United States in the mid-nineteenth century.

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This lesson plan uses two stories by Nancy Wang, a dancer, storyteller, playwright, and practicing psychotherapist. Wang studies ethnic dance and has written plays focused on Asian American themes. The stories offered here—Immigrant History and Mom’s Story—come from her longer story Bittersweet: A Chinese American Daughter’s Legacy. In this story, Wang explores the history of her own family, beginning with the immigration of her great-great-grandparents from China to the United States in the mid-nineteenth century. Through this story of her own family history, Wang uncovers the generations of discrimination against Chinese immigrants—both stealth and legally sanctioned—as she explores the relationship in her family, including her own relationship with her mother.

This unit comes with a teacher guide, text of stories & audio-download of stories as well as student activities.

Lesson Plan

PURPOSE

  • To expose students to the experience of Chinese immigrants in the 19th century.
  • To explore the little-known history of exclusion of and discrimination against Chinese immigrants and Chinese Americans during the 19th and 20th centuries.
  • To examine the connections between family history and personal development.

OUTCOMES

By the end of this lesson, each student will:

  • Be familiar with the tension among immigrants in California in the 19th and early-20th century.
  • Understand why marginalized groups might exploit and oppress each other rather than working together to achieve their rights.
  • Respond to the issues and themes of the stories
  • Relate their own experiences to the stories

Download Bittersweet Lesson Plan (PDF)

Story Excerpts

The following MP3 tracks are story excerpts for use with the Bittersweet lesson plan. Please note that these excerpts are protected by copyright and are exclusively for educational use.

Excerpt #1 — Immigrant History– 9:16 minutes

Excerpt #2 — Mom’s Story– 14:27 minutes

Need help to download the MP3 Story Excerpts?  Click here for directions.

About Storyteller Nancy Wang

Nancy Wang, together with her storyteller husband Robert Kikuchi-Ynogo founded Eth-Noh-Tec in 1982. This is is a kinetic story theater company based in San Francisco, weaving [tec] together distinctive cultural elements of the East and West [eth] to create new possibilities [noh]. Eth-Noh-Tec produces and performs contemporary presentations of traditional folktales from the many countries and cultures of Asia through storytelling, theater, dance, and music.  Nancy Wang is available for performances in schools and colleges solo, or with her husband as Eth-NohTec.

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Full information : www.ethohtec.org.

Honoring Asian Americans and Their Contributions

asianfabricAs spring settles in and the school year winds down, it is important to consider the amazing contributions of some very significant leaders in the Asian American community. May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and there are many notable Asian Americans worthy of study. Their dedication to discover and to strive to reach the stars proves that anything is possible, and that dreams do come true. Teachers and schools should take the opportunity to celebrate and honor their accomplishments. 

Below are a few names to start with and what they are known for. Create a research project for students. Study the names as a class. Make up a guessing game or quiz that gets the students actively involved! Share the names with your students, and see how much they know!

  • Chawla, Kalpana, astronaut
  • Chow, Amy, gymnastics
  • Chung, Connie, broadcast journalist
  • Curry, Ann, TV news reporter
  • Gabriel, Roman, football
  • Hirabayashi, GordonKiyoshi, activist
  • Ho, Don, Hawaiian entertainer
  • Jen, Gish, novelist
  • Johnson, Dwayne (theRock), wrestler, entertainer
  • Jones, Norah, musician
  • Kahanamoku, Duke, swimming, surfing
  • Kapany, NarinderS., physicist
  • Khorana, HarGobind, biochemist
  • Kingston, MaxineHong, writer
  • Kuniyoshi, Yasuo, painter
  • Kwan, Michelle, figure skating
  • Lee, Brandon, actor
  • Lee, Bruce, actor
  • Liliuokalani, Hawaiian queen
  • Liu, Lucy, actress
  • Louganis, Greg, diving
  • Ma, YoYo, cellist
  • Midori, violinist
  • Mori, Kyoko, poet, novelist, and nonfiction writer
  • Morita, Pat, actor
  • Ono, Yoko, singer
  • Park, Grace, golf
  • Shyamalan, M. Night, film director and screenwriter
  • Tan, Amy, novelist
  • Underwood, Robert Anacletus, congressional delegate
  • Wang, Vera, fashion designer
  • Woods, Tiger, golf
  • Wu, David, U.S. congressman
  • Yamaguchi, Kristi, figure skating
  • Yep, Laurence, writer

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Source:

http://www.infoplease.com/spot/asianbios.html. (n.d.). Retrieved 1 22, 2012, from infoplease.com: http://www.infoplease.com/spot/asianbios.html

Asian Americans and their Gifts to America

blackpondHave you ever wondered what America would be like without the creativity inspired by other cultures? Ours is a nation of diversity. We have the unique capacity to design and create, to dream and build, to explore and experiment – all because we have so many different people, customs, cultures, beliefs, talents, and backgrounds on our shores. 

Let’s all take a moment to celebrate our Asian American citizens and their tremendous accomplishments. Share these not so common facts below with your students, and see how many facts they recognize. Make it a trivia contest or a game!

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Item Where it Came From
 The story of Cinderella China
 Chutes and Ladders Game Hindi
 Kites China
 Hello Kitty Japan
 Rock, Paper, Scissors Game Japan
 Yoga India
 Nintendo Japan
 Soccer China
 Hula Native Hawaii
 Scooby Doo created by a Japanese-American
 Umbrella China
 Wheelbarrow China
 Tie-dying India
 Pajamas India
 Bandana India
 Compact Disc (CD) Japan
 Cultured Pearls China
 Cotton and Calico India
 Tattoo Tahiti
 Ketchup Malay
 Ukelele Polynesian
 Brainwashing China
 Shampoo Hindi

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How did you do – how many did your students recognize? Can your students think of any other items in our country created by Asian Americans?

During the month of May, America celebrates Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Honor these brilliant people by encouraging your students to dream big and work hard.

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Source:

Wang, F. K.-H. (n.d.). Asian Pacific American Heritage Month for Kids. Retrieved 1 22, 2012, from IMDiversity.com: http://www.imdiversity.com/villages/asian/history_heritage/wang_asian_heritage_month_kids.asp

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

ASIAN AMERICAN HERITAGE
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RaceBridges pays tribute to the immigrant generations of Asians and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America’s history and continue to contribute to the nation’s future.

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RaceBridges invites you to explore some powerful Asian American stories.  Use them and their related lesson plans with your students. 

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See the Lesson Plans and Videos of some unusual short stories told by professional storytellers . . .

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.STORIES, VIDEOS,
IDEAS & RESOURCES
CELEBRATING ASIAN AMERICAN
HERITAGE & LIFE
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SHORT VIDEO STORIES

Told By : Alton Chung :

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Told By: Nancy Wang :

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.Told By: Anne Shimojima :

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.Told By: Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo :

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7 Myths and Stereotypes About Asian Americans

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This list is written for RaceBridges by our colleagues from Ethnohtec Story Theatre

 

1. “Asian Americans are nerds, geeks”

Not so. All you have to do is recognize Jackie Chan, kung fu actor and comedian. There’s Bruce Lee, martial artist actor, Kristi Yamaguchi and Michelle Kwan, gold medalist ice skaters. There are also other medal winning skaters Kim Yu-na of South Korea, and sister-brother team, Danvi and Vu Pham, Vietnamese – to name only a few. Like in any population, Asians are a broad spectrum of personalities. There are many more Asians who could not be nerds or geeks even if they wanted to be!

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2. “Asian women are sexy; Asian men are not”

Stereotypes ? What is this based on? A biased attitude, seen from a narrow point of reference, and personal preference.If one looks at characters and images in movies, magazines and on TV, what is reflected is the creation of a white male industry portraying what is to be considered ‘sexy’, and it is is usually white. Asian women are chosen to fit that white stereotype with an added racist Asian-woman-seductress element. It’s all made up by a few white men and all of us, not just Asians, have been hypnotized by it. How can there be no ‘sexy’ Asian men? Statistically this is impossible. And the same goes for Asian women. All Asian women are ‘sexy’? Please. No more than all white women are ‘sexy’!

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3. “Asians are petite and short”

Like any population, there are many sizes. Sure many Asians tend to be shorter, but not all. There are many Asians peaking beyond 6 feet tall. Anyone can gain weight! Take a look at Japanese Sumo wrestlers or for height, there’s Yow Ming, Chinese basketball player at 7’6” and his girlfriend Chinese basketball player at 6’2”. Asians are 60% of the world population and in these populations there is a mixture of many faces and sizes just like in other groups.

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4.   “All Asian Americans are well educated”

The data tells a different story. In fact, Southeast Asians have the highest high school dropout rates in the country. 33% of Asian Americans students in public high schools drop out or do not graduate on time. 24% of Asian Americans over age 25 do not have a high school degree. The illiteracy rate of Asian Americans is 5.3 times that of non-Hispanic whites. http://www.asiannation.org/modelminority.shtml

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5.  “Asian Americans have made it to the mainstream and have become part of the accepted  American ‘melting pot”

In fact, Asian Americans in the first hundred and more years of living on American soil (as early as 1849) were singled out and victimized by discriminating behaviors and laws by European settlers. They were lynched, murdered, rounded up and marched out of communities. They were not allowed by law to stand witness against any white man in court, could not own land, were forbidden to immigrate, imprisoned in government internment  camps, forbidden to marry out of their own ethnic group and more.

All the above is even more alarming since there is evidence that the Chinese first arrived on the western shores of America as early as 2500BC and the eastern shores years before Columbus in the 1400s. Filipinos arrived in Louisiana in the 1700s.  Many Asians  were earlier Americans than Europeans. But this does not count.

Today,  research shows that Asian Americans are the fastest growing victims of hate crimes in America. 17% of Asian American boys in grades 5 through 12 reported physical abuse, as compared to 8% among white boys, and 30% of Asian American girls in  grades 5 through 12 reported depressive symptoms, as compared to white girls (22%), African American girls (17%), or Hispanic girls (27%), 46% of Asian American households do not have anyone over age 14 who can speak English well.

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6.  “Asian Americans are economically stable and successful”

In fact, 14% of Asian Americans live below the poverty line, compared to 13% of the U.S. population. In addition, while jobs pay Euro Americans $522 per every additional year of education beyond high school, Asian Americans make $379 per every additional year of education. In California, almost 40% of all Vietnamese refugees are on public assistance and in Minnesota and Wisconsin, an equal number of  Cambodians, Hmong, and Laotians also receive public assistance. In New York City, 52% of Asian American births in 1999 were paid for by Medicaid, indicating that their mothers are poor or near poor, more  than double that of 1990(22%). According to the  U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Asian-American men born in the United States are 7 percent to 11 percent less likely to hold managerial jobs than white men with the   same educational and experience level.

Informative sites :

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7.  “Asian Americans are passive, compliant and weak”

Well, there’s Mao.  There’s Chinese mothers!  American film most often depicts Asians as being mysterious, passive,China Dolls and as usual casting non-white men as being unattractive for women.  Look at all the Hollywood pairing of Asian women and white men: Pierce Brosnan and Michelle Yeoh in the James bond movie “Tomorrow Never Dies”; or look at all the female Asian newscasters, but rarely an Asian male newscaster; or the movie ‘The World of Suzie Wong” – a prostitute  who is paired with William Holden, a white  business man.  The women are either Dragon Lady types and the men ugly  fierce gang  or martial arts murderers, or they are the unattractive passive and weak.  Asians are rarely portrayed as just regular human beings.  Too often in films, the Asian passive  beauty is set as the standard as to how to attract and keep a man.  And never is an Asian competition to romantically win the leading man or woman.

Further Informative sites:

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The above list is written for RaceBridges by our colleagues from Ethnohtec Story Theatre : www.ethnohtec.org

  • We hope this list will energize you to explore the role of Asian Americans in this month of May, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month..
  • This list is not meant to be all-encompassing. All Asian-Americans are not all from Pacific Asian origins. The continent of Asia is vast.  We hope the above list will stimulate discussion and exploration of an American ethnic group that we often classify with one name, but has many splendid and shining differences..
  • These stories of triumph, resilience and persistence speak of the many gifts that the Asian American peoples have brought to America.

 

Just Hair: Finding Out the Importance of Your True Roots

 

Story Summary:

 A chance encounter is an unexpected blessing for a teenager, who discovers that true strength is rooted within, extending down into the roots of the ancestors.

 

Discussion Questions:

  1. There are many forms of laughter: discomfort, joy, fear, amusement, sarcastic, etc. What type of laughter would you attribute to the students in the library? What dynamic did it set up between them and Diane? What are a few responses you would have had to the situation?
  2. Invisibility is a much-desired attribute among superheroes. However, there are times when we, too, search for the cloak of concealment. When have you ever wanted to be “invisible”? In what situation and for what purpose?
  3. The themes of belonging, identity, shame, and protecting one’s self can be found in the story of each human being. What other themes did you connect to in this story? Did the story help you to remember something that is or has happened to you?

 

Resources:

  • Every Tongue Got to Confess by Zora Neale Hurston
  •  African American Folk Tales for Young Readers by Richard Young and Judy Dockrey Young
  • Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco

 

Themes:

  • African American/Black History
  • Bullying
  • Education and Life Lessons
  • European American/Whites
  • Family and Childhood
  • Identity
  • Stereotypes and Discrimination
  • Taking A Stand and Peacemaking

A Link in the Circle: Learning to Lean on My Indonesian Family

 

Story Summary:

 What is it like to be so immersed in a culture that a lady on the bus becomes your adopted “Aunt” and a bus driver your “Brother? While Arianna Ross travelled alone through Indonesia, she discovered that sometimes family is defined by a connection and not blood. Many days Arianna lived with only the support of total strangers. Witness the similarities and differences between Arianna’s culture and theirs.

 

Discussion Questions:

  1.  Where in your life have strangers become family?
  2. How do the people in the island of Banda Aceh, Indonesia define family?
  3. When the police stopped the bus that Arianna was on and searched people, what were they looking for and how did “strangers” protect Arianna?

 

Resources:  

  • Folk Tales From Bali and Lombok by Margaret Alibasah
  • Folk Tales from Indonesia by Dra Aman

 

Themes:

  •  Asian American/Asians
  • Crossing Cultures
  • Education and Life Lessons
  • European American/Whites
  • Identity
  • Living and Traveling Abroad
  • Taking A Stand and Peacemaking

The Bus: Traveling from England to India, with the Hells Angels

 

Story Summary:

 As the new Protestant Chaplain at the largest men’s prison in Maryland, Geraldine quickly realizes that the midweek Bible service has been overrun by the Crips – a violent, largely African-American gang – and that if something isn’t done quickly the Correctional Officers will close down the service. Going to the root of the problem, Geraldine meets with the head of Crips in her office, but she soon sees that as the two of them are so completely different she will have to establish some common ground before asking for his help with the problem. Will telling him a story of a thug-filled six-week bus trip from London, UK to Delhi, India, that she took decades before, be enough to win his trust? Can the midweek Bible service be saved?

 

Discussion Questions:

  1.  America has more people incarcerated than any other nation in the world (both in number and per capita).  Why do you think this is?
  2. According to an FBI report, in 2011 there were approximately 1.4 million people who were part of gangs, and more than 33,000 gangs were active in the United State.  These numbers have since grown rapidly. What do you think has happened in this country to allow gangs to flourish?
  3. What do you think that you as an individual can do about both of these problems? What do you think that we as a nation can do about both of these problems?

 

Resources:

  • The Outsiders by E. F. Hutton
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander.

 

Themes:

  • Crossing Cultures
  • Living and Traveling Abroad
  • Stereotypes and Discrimination
  • Taking A Stand and Peacemaking

My Long Hair

 

Story Summary:

 Motoko tells a story about her own experience of sexual harassment in Japan, how she was trapped into silence imposed by her culture, and how storytelling helped her break the silence and heal herself.

 

Discussion Questions:

  1.  As a teenager in Japan, Motoko had times when she did not feel safe. What kept her from feeling safe?
  2. Do you feel safe? What precautions do you take for your own safety?
  3. What can each of us do to help others feel safe and live safely?

 

Resources:

  • Like a Lotus Flower: Girlhood Tales from Japan by Motoko. (Audio CD,www.folktales.net; 2009)
  • Unbroken Thread: An Anthology of Plays by Asian American Women edited by Roberto Uno

 

Themes:

  •  Asian American/Asians
  • Bullying
  • Family and Childhood
  • Identity
  • Stereotypes and Discrimination

DIWALI — From Darkness to Light, Hindus in America—Happy New Year!

 

Story Summary:

 A Goddess inspired story of the adversities faced and overcome by Archana’s family as they move form India to America. This is a story of identity, assimilation and race relations that ultimately honors different paths of healing and different religions. Overcoming health issues and life and death challenges, from Darkness to Light describes the embodiment of the Indian festival of Lights/Diwali that welcomes in the “new” in each and every one of us in a beautiful way.

 

Discussion Questions:

  1.  What other cultures include goddesses and talk about embodying the goddess energy? What does that mean?
  2. What is Diwali and what do people do on that day?
  3. What are some ways we can practice religious inclusion: as an individual, as a school or workplace and as a nation?

 

Resources:

 

Themes:

  •  Asian Americans/Asians
  • Crossing Cultures
  • Family and Childhood
  • Interfaith

Vietnamese Refugees: An American Immigration Story

 

Story Summary:

 The true story of a Vietnamese teenager who makes it to America after a harrowing boat journey and refugee camp. At a commemorative storytelling event honoring Vietnamese Americans, Sue witnesses the transformative power of story as this young man shares his American immigrant story. The community of listeners that storytelling creates makes a new country feel like home.

 

Discussion Questions:

  1.  America and Canada represent a moral ideal for some people in other parts of the world. What is that ideal?
  2. Even in miserable surroundings people seek friendship; what does this say about our human need for connection? Neal and Tom were friends, yet Neal had no idea of his friend’s torment. How do we choose what to share and what to keep private from our friends?
  3. Why had Neal had not told Tom’s story before the storytelling workshop? How did it help him to share his story?

 

Resources:

 

Themes:

  • Asian American/Asians
  • Crossing Cultures
  • Family and Childhood
  • Identity
  • Immigration
  • Living and Traveling Abroad
  • Taking A Stand and Peacemaking
  • War

Through the Eyes of York

 

Story Summary:

 In 1804, Lewis & Clark crossed The Great Plains and dangerous Rocky Mountains to finally see the Pacific Ocean for the first time! One person who was part of this Corps of Discovery was an African American man named York. While York was not always credited with his part in the Western exploration, his contributions were a large part of Lewis and Clark’s success.

 

Discussion Questions:

  1.  How did York’s experience of the Expedition vary from that of the other men?
  2. How was York instrumental to the success of the Expedition?
  3. What was Sacagawea’s impact on the success of the trip?

 

Themes:

  • African American/Black History
  • First Nations/Native Americans
  • Stereotypes and Discrimination

STORY SHORT: Grandpa’s Story

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Grandpa’s Story
by Storyteller Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo

www.ethnohtec.org
Approximate Length of Video and Audio: 9 Minutes.

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THEME
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The immigrant experience is complicated; often it’s only the children of
immigrants who realize the dream of a new country.
(more…)

STORY SHORT: Reflections on Minidoka

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Reflections on Minidoka
by Storyteller Alton Chung

www.altonchung.com
Approximate Length of Video and Audio: 7 minutes, 10 seconds.

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THEME
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The importance of remembering our own past and the past of our people.
(more…)

STORY SHORT: Onara

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Onara
by Storyteller Alton Chung

www.altonchung.com
Approximate Length of Video and Audio: 5 minutes, 30 seconds.

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THEME
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Discovering what we have in common, across the races, even in times of conflict.
(more…)

STORY SHORT: City Girls: North Side vs. South Side

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City Girls:  North Side vs. South Side.
by Storyteller Susan O’Halloran

www.susanohalloran.com
Approximate Length of Video and Audio: 10 minutes.

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 THEME
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Storyteller Susan O’Halloran remembers the “dividing lines” of her youth.
(more…)

ONARA

by Storyteller ALTON CHUNG

 

Story Summary:

This is a true story written by Mako Nakagawa and told by Alton with her permission. A young girl wonders about the difference between “hakujin” (white people) and “nihonjin” (Japanese people) while in an internment camp in WWII. She speculates as to why hakujin do not onara (a euphemism for “passing gas”).

 

Discussion Questions:

  1. You have been ordered to move out of your house in two weeks and can only take one suitcase weighing 50 pounds. You will be gone for an unknown period of time for an unknown destination. There are no stores where you are going, no Internet or cell phone or cable service, and very little electricity. What will you take with you?
  2. Meals in the camps were served in large mess halls like the cafeteria in your school. What would be the advantages and disadvantages of serving meals in this way? How would you feel about eating in a cafeteria for all of your meals for the next year?
  3. The incarceration (internment) camps were surrounded by guard towers, barbed wire fences, and soldiers with rifles. Do you think such measures were necessary? Why were they implemented? How would you feel if you had to live under those conditions?  How do you think it would change you?

 

 Resources:

  • Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki
  • Years of Infamy: The Untold Story of America’s Concentration Camps by Michi Weglyn.

 

Themes:

  • Asian American/Asians
  • Education and Life Lessons
  • European American/Whites
  • Identity
  • War

MOM’S STORY

by Nancy Wang

 

Story Summary:

 Many of us have ambivalent relationships with our mothers. In this story, Nancy dives into that ambivalence trying to understand what has been so difficult about it and why.  Her journey is colored by the differences between Chinese and Western values and behaviors making it even more difficult to understand. But in the end, there is a final discovery that brings peace, love and reconciliation with her Chinese mom.

 

Discussion Question:

  1. What are your ambivalent feelings toward your mom? Does she know about it?  What would it take for you to sit down with your mom and have a talk with how you feel? What would be scary or uncomfortable about it? Are any of your challenges because of ethnic or generational or some other cultural difference?
  2. Have you ever seen your mother cry? Do you know why she was crying? Was it surprising to you and, if so, why?
  3. Can you imagine your mother as a child? a teenager? What do you think she was like when she was your age? Would she be a friend of yours?
  4.  Have you ever sat with your mother and asked her to tell you about one of the most wonderful moments in her life? or the saddest? or one that changed her life?   What would your relationship with her be like if you began to hear her stories?

 

Resources:

 

Themes:

  •  Asian American/Asians
  • Bullying
  • Education and Life Lessons
  • Family and Childhood
  • Stereotypes and Discrimination
  • Taking A Stand and Peacemaking

IMMIGRANT STORY

By Storyteller Nancy Wang

 

Story Summary:

 This story follows the journey of Nancy Wang’s ancestors who arrived in California on a junk boat in 1850 and started the fishing industry of the Monterey Peninsula. However, both legal and illegal violence ensued against them for generations. This story reveals how a group of immigrants rallied with resilience and ingenuity so that the 7th generation of Chinese Americans thrives today.

 

Discussion Questions:

  1.  1.Why is it important for Nancy to read about her family in a book? What does that book represent?
  2. The family originally emigrated from China for what reasons? And did they accomplish what they set out to do? Were there differences of opinion within the family toward their former and present country?
  3. What was a Celestial? Why were the Chinese given that name? By using the term Celestial, how/why does this separate the Chinese? Were the Chinese different from other settlers moving into California? How?

 

Resource:

  • The Chinese in America: A Narrative History by Iris Chang

 

Themes:

  • Asian American/Asians
  • Crossing Cultures
  • Education and Life Lessons
  • European American/Whites
  • Family and Childhood
  • Immigration
  • Stereotypes and Discrimination
  • Taking A Stand and Peacemaking

GRANDPA’S STORY

By Storyteller Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo

 

Story Summary:

 An American family gathers for a reunion with laughter, memories, and good ol’ corn beef and cabbage. Suddenly, the father kneels before his family and sobs apologetically, “Your country has betrayed you.” With the launch of Executive Order 9066, the unconstitutional mass incarceration of over 110,00 citizens of Japanese ancestry begins. Now this American family, deemed the “enemy race”, must ask, “What will happen next?”

 

Discussion Questions:

  1.  What did it mean that the Japanese boy was the second son and there was “nothing for him in Japan?”
  2. Robert’s Grandfather aligned himself with the U.S. Navy as a cook and received an honorable discharge. Later, he cries before his family and apologizes that he has left them with “No country.”  Is that true?  Why or why not?
  3. What sort of values and biases does America show towards its citizens during WWII?  What does the redress movement signify?

 

Resource:

 

Themes:

  •  Asian American/Asians
  • Crossing Cultures
  • Family and Childhood
  • Stereotypes and Discrimination
  • War

EVACUATION

by Storyteller Anne Shimojima

 

Story Summary:

What if the U.S. went to war with your country of origin? Anne Shimojima tells of the difficult days following the attack on Pearl Harbor, when her Japanese-American family were forced to evacuate their home. Could it happen to you?

 

Discussion Questions:

  1. Imagine that your family had to leave its home in ten days. You can only take what you can carry. You may never return. What will you take and why? What will you have to leave behind that will break your heart to leave?
  2. What can we learn from the experience of the Japanese-Americans at this time when Muslim-Americans face so much prejudice?
  3. Being an American citizen gives us certain rights. If you lost your rights as the Japanese-Americans did in World War II, what are some of the actions you could take in response?

 

Resources:

  • Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project – The Densho Digital Archive contains 400 videotaped histories (fully transcribed, indexed, and searchable by keyword) and over 10,700 historic photos, documents, and newspapers. www.densho.org/
  • Personal Justice Denied; Report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. The Civil Liberties Public Education Fund and University of Washington Press, 1997. Available at: books.google.com  and

 

Themes:

  • Asian American/Asians
  • Bullying
  • European American/Whites
  • Family and Childhood
  • Housing
  • Identity
  • Stereotypes and Discrimination
  • War

INCARCERATION

By Storyteller Anne Shimojima

 

Story Summary:

How would the government treat your family if it went to war with your ancestors’ country of origin? Anne Shimojima describes life in an incarceration camp for her Japanese-American family during World War II.

 

Discussion Questions:

  1. Imagine that you were in an incarceration camp in World War II. How would you answer Question 27 and 28 and why?
  2. How do you think the experience of living in an incarceration camp (when you have not done anything wrong) can affect a family and succeeding generations?
  3. How do you think the lack of privacy affected the people living in the camps?

 

Resources:

  • Japanese American Relocation Digital Archives – University of California Teacher created lesson plans for grades 4-12 based on photographs, letters, diaries, transcribed oral histories, and artwork of the camps – www.calisphere.universityofcalifornia.edu/jarda/
  • Looking Like the Enemy; My Story of Imprisonment in Japanese American Internment Camps by Mary Matsuda Gruenewald

 

Themes:

  • Asian American/Asians
  • Bullying
  • European American/Whites
  • Family and Childhood
  • Housing
  • Identity
  • Stereotypes and Discrimination
  • War