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El Camino College to Celebrate Spring with Annual Cherry Blossom Festival

TORRANCE — El Camino College’s 18th annual Cherry Blossom Festival is scheduled for Thursday, April 5, from 1 to 2 p.m. on the outdoor stage near the ECC Student Activities Center, 16007 Crenshaw Blvd., Torrance.

Nadine Ishitani Hata

The Dr. Nadine Ishitani Hata Memorial Cherry Blossom Festival is named after the college’s former vice president of academic affairs, who passed away in 2005. Hata was an internationally known scholar who was extremely involved in academia and community work. She was instrumental in bringing the cherry trees to the campus 18 years ago, one of the many programs she supported during her 34-year career at ECC.

American Honda Motor Co., Inc. donated the cherry trees and generously contributed to an endowed scholarship in her name in 2005.

“The annual Cherry Blossom Festival is a wonderful way to celebrate a long-standing tradition of welcoming spring,” said El Camino College President Dena P. Maloney. “It is also a fitting tribute to Dr. Hata, who dedicated her career to education and the success of our students.”

Under Hata’s leadership, the Cherry Blossom Festival has become a college tradition – a way to ring in the spring season and celebrate friendship.

Drummers from the Taiko Center of Los Angeles will perform and students from Professor Rhea Lewitzki’s poetry class will read their original haiku compositions. In addition, ECC student Kanna Iwasaki will perform a traditional Japanese dance and a group of students from the college’s Spring Advanced Dance Ensemble class will present a rhythm stick dance. Light refreshments will be served.

Also part of the celebration is an exhibition, “Concentration Camps U.S.A.,” which opens at 2 p.m. on April 5 in the El Camino College Schauerman Library. This display of selected materials on the Nikkei (Japanese American) gulag and diaspora during World War II is from the Archives and Special Collections Department of CSU Dominguez Hills.

Headed by CSUDH, a consortium of 20 California universities created the CSU Japanese American History and Digitization Project to support the digitization and online access of archival collections accumulated at CSU libraries throughout the state. The digitization project is a unique and growing research resource, providing students and scholars with an opportunity to study primary sources and to explore civil liberties issues relating to the Nikkei incarceration during World War II and how those issues reverberate today.

The project is supported by grants from the National Park Service, National Endowment for the Humanities, Haynes Foundation, California Civil Liberties Public Education Fund, and National Historical Records and Publications Commission.

“Concentration Camps U.S.A.” also includes watercolors by CSUDH Professor Emeritus Don Hata. The retired professor’s paintings are based largely on his memories as a child in the U.S. War Relocation Authority camp at Gila, Ariz. “In Honor of the Manzanar Fishing Club” depicts the true story of internees who would sneak out of the camp to hike high into the Eastern Sierra and savor a bit of freedom while fishing for trout.

The exhibit runs through April 30; admission is free. Check the Library webpage for operating hours:

The Cherry Blossom Festival is sponsored by the El Camino College Office of Staff and Student Diversity. For more information, call (310) 660-3593, ext. 3316.

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