The National Veterans Network visited the Montgomery Alabama Civil Rights Memorial. From left: Rosalyn Tonai, National Japanese American Historical Society (San Francisco); Noriko Sanefuji, Smithsonion National Museum of American History; Lynn Yamasaki, Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles); Lisa Sasaki and Andrea Neighbors, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center; Christine Sato-Yamazaki, National Veterans Network; and Jon Berg, teacher for the Washington, D.C. schools.
WASHINGTON – The National Veterans Network (NVN) has been awarded a $107,708 grant from the Department of Interior’s National Park Service (NPS) through the Japanese American Confinement Sites (JACS) grant program that will help fund the development of school curriculum for students in grades 2-5.
NVN and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center (APAC) are working with a group of elementary school master teachers to develop and test the curriculum, which will lay the foundation for teaching social justice and equal rights through the stories of the Nisei soldier experience.
“We are honored to receive the grant from the National Park Service, which will help the NVN and APAC as we work together to develop this special curriculum,” said Christine Sato-Yamazaki, executive director at NVN. “Our ultimate goal is to provide teachers with relevant resources and Do Something action tasks in the classroom based on the Smithsonian Nisei Soldier Congressional Gold Medal online exhibition using the stories of Nisei veterans and Japanese American incarceration as critical context.”
As part of the curriculum development initiative, the NVN and APAC organized a convening on Feb. 13 in Montgomery, Ala., with representatives from Teaching Tolerance, Washington, D.C. Public Schools, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, and the National Japanese American Historical Society in San Francisco. Among the topics discussed were the importance of designing an accessible curriculum that classroom teachers can easily and comfortably apply potentially focused on short, impactful activities.
The convening also helped identify important points that will influence the overall design of the curriculum, such as helping students understand that actions based on bias are wrong and that they have ramifications and long-term effects. Also discussed was the pilot teacher institute that will be held this summer in Washington, D.C., where four to five teachers will use the new curriculum in their classrooms the following fall.
The NVN will continue to work on initiatives to preserve the important role Japanese American soldiers played during World War II. Among the programs that the NVN is currently working on is developing an exhibit on Nisei soldiers for the National Museum of the United States Army. The special exhibit will tell the story of the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and Military Intelligence Service through stories and artifacts, including the display of the Nisei Soldier Congressional Gold Medal from the Smithsonian. The contributions of the Nisei soldier will also be part of the National Army Museum’s timeline exhibit, which will show the societal impact and changes the U.S. Army has experienced since its inception.
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