An Important Fight for the Inclusion of Asia, Asian, and AAPI Content

By Chamiya Carnathan and Penelope Morris

We are DC high school students who have been studying Japanese with Globalize DC since summer 2021. Back in 2021, in the depths of the pandemic, a group of students from our online Japanese program (including the two of us) advocated for the new DC social studies standards, which were soon to be updated, to be more inclusive of Asians and Asian Americans. During and after the pandemic, anti-Asian hate crimes rose substantially. In order to combat anti-Asian hate and violence, we concluded that people need to be taught about Asia, Asians, and AAPI content in order to feel compassion and understanding for these communities.

In June 2021, Penelope, alongside other students from Globalize DC, testified before the DC State Board of Education (SBOE) to discuss the improvements that the new standards needed. In December 2022, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) released the first draft of the new standards. We were extremely unsatisfied with the draft, because OSSE did not respond to our suggestions at all. In fact, the standards regressed in the amount of content for Asia, Asians, and Asian Americans. After we discussed what could be improved, the two of us (now in Globalize DC’s afterschool Japanese Plus program) testified before SBOE in January 2023 to again demand that the standards include more Asians and Asian Americans. We advocated for standards that include specific AAPI and Asian content and the introduction of Asian/AAPI content in earlier grades. After a very strenuous rewriting process, OSSE released a revised draft of the new social studies standards on March 29th, 2023, and we were deeply pleased by the outcome.

After reading this latest draft, we compiled a list of all the standards that explicitly mentioned Asia, Asians, and Asian Americans. We were especially happy about the specificity and amount of this content. In grade 6, OSSE revised the standards to analyze cultural elements of a country located in Asia and its significance for and influence on other societies. Although the standards analyze cultural elements of only one country located in Asia, it is a very important step to add cultural aspects of Asia. We were also pleased to see that OSSE modified the standards to name some specific elements of Asian culture, such as Sikhism and the philosophical writings of Wang Yangming, compared to the vague nature of the previous draft.

In World History 2, OSSE included a lot more standards that discuss a variety of countries such as South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, China, Cambodia, and many more. More people related to Asia are also discussed such as Ibn Battuta, Marco Polo, and Zheng He. In Government and Civics, United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind, United States v. Wong Kim Ark, and Korematsu v. United States are included, which are cases that helped shape America. Overall, OSSE has most definitely added a lot more countries and specific people to the social studies standards.

Instantly, we recognized that OSSE fulfilled our suggestion of introducing Asian/AAPI content in earlier grades. In grade 1, the standards introduce Asian communities as well as other communities to explain how they have shaped and defined Washington, DC. The standards also introduce specific community leaders, including Lee Yick and Liliʻuokalani. In grade 2, OSSE expanded Asian history in the periods between 1100 and 1400. In grade 3, OSSE included greater representation of AAPI history in Washington, DC. In grade 5, OSSE included all Asian immigration during this time period, as well as additional standards about the impact of the Chinese Exclusion Act.

In conclusion, these new standards are what we wanted to be included. They highlight the impact that AAPI communities have had on Washington, DC, as well as expanding Asian history, which will build understanding and compassion among the younger children. Our greatest hope is that teachers will make great use of these standards and incorporate field trips and create other opportunities for children to learn about Asian/AAPI communities firsthand. These standards pair well with excursions to learn about many different communities that make up our city and nation.

We want to give special thanks to Dr. Sohyun An, a professor of social studies education at Kennesaw State University and an expert reviewer for these new standards, for using her expertise to advocate, alongside Globalize DC, for the inclusion of Asia, Asian, and Asian American content. We would also like to thank the members of the State Board of Education and OSSE for listening to our suggestions and taking them seriously.  

You can find the latest full draft of the K-12 social studies, along with other background information on the revision process, here.

Now recruiting HS students and staff for this summer’s Japan in DC Program!

Globalize DC is very happy to once again be able to offer our Japan in DC program in summer 2023, thanks to continued support from the United States-Japan Foundation. We are currently in the process of recruiting up to 20 super interested DC public high school students and two Program Leaders to make this exciting program a reality. Our goal is to complete our selections by the end of this month. Please read on and share!

About the JAPAN IN DC Program: Over six weeks (June 26-August 4), students will move around the city to explore and experience a wide variety of people, places, organizations, businesses, government agencies, and cultural institutions in DC with connections to Japan. This is a really fun program – and life-transforming. Students will document their experiences through writing, photography, and other creative expression. This free program will be offered in partnership with the Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program (MBSYEP), which allows registered students to earn summer pay for participation. The deadline for students to apply to MBSYEP has now passed.

To Apply for JAPAN IN DC: Globalize DC will select students for JAPAN IN DC through a citywide application process.  The program is open to DC public high school students (DCPS or charter). Click below for more program details and to submit an application. We plan to accept up to twenty (20) students.

Spread the word: Please help share this information with interested students and parents, as well as teachers, partners, and others who can help us spread the word to DC high school students throughout all 8 wards of the city. You can use the link to our JAPAN IN DC webpage, which will be updated with new information as it develops.

And here’s a downloadable 2023 JAPAN IN DC STUDENT FLYER.


We are currently recruiting two Co-Teachers to lead this summer’s JAPAN IN DC Program. Ideal candidates would be secondary teachers, international education professionals, JET alumni, graduate students, or others with relevant experience. This is a fun program, for students and adult leaders, with significant movement across the city. High energy, dedication to high school student learning, and knowledge of DC geography a must.

Anyone with questions can email Thanks for helping us spread the word about this great (paid) summer opportunity for DC teens.

An Evening at the Japanese Embassy

By Aitana Camponovo

On Thursday March 23rd, I was invited by Education Counsellor Taichi Kaneshiro to spend an evening at the Embassy of Japan in Washington DC. Apart from enjoying fresh sushi and great company, this event was hosted to bid farewell to the graduates of the LEAP exchange program (Long-Term Education Administrators Program), who had been working in America for the last year and to congratulate them on their hard work. While representing Japanese Plus, I had the pleasure to meet a wide variety of officials from all over DC and Japan and to get to know the LEAP graduates. Funny enough, without having to even leave my very own city, I had the privilege to stand on Japanese soil that night. 

The highlight of the evening was speaking with the LEAP alumni in Japanese. They were fascinating individuals who shared valuable perspectives with me that night. It turned out they had been dispersed all over the country, one being in New York, others in Alabama and Arizona, but had rejoined as a group in Washington DC before they would board one final flight back home to Japan. When I told them I would be joining them in Japan very soon to study abroad, I asked for some advice. Surprisingly, they shared they were worried about going home because of how much they felt America had changed them; they of course missed their families, but would miss America more. It seemed they too were conflicted, but for reasons different from mine. 

This April, I will be studying abroad in Chiba, Japan for a semester through a program called AYUSA. One week prior to this evening, I had been solely focused on preparing for my exchange trip, so much so that I did not take any time to stop and breathe for a second. My world at that point was nothing but what was coming up in the next two weeks. I was finishing all of my final exams in March, months early, and already beginning to say my goodbyes to close friends and teachers. Though it was a stressful time full of late night studying and packing lists, the dinner that evening was like a breath of fresh air. Visiting the Japanese Embassy for the first time taught me the meaning of the phrase “the world is your oyster.” The world of Japan is not just a language website on my phone or late night study sessions. I realized that if only I opened my eyes a little more, I would see there is a lot more out there than what I previously thought; I just have to be willing to look for it. 

I am very grateful to have been invited to such an event, and I am excited to attend many more in the future once I return from Japan. It was especially an honor to be the youngest one there, and I am thankful for everyone in the Japanese Embassy who made that special evening possible.

A new experience through new students

By Felipe Lemos

On March 25th, I was able to join my peers in the Japanese Plus Program in an exchange with a group of Japanese students from Okinawa, visiting DC through a KAKEHASHI Exchange program called TOFU (Think of Okinawa’s Future in the United States). This was the third group of KAKEHASHI students I met with as a part of Japanese Plus, so I was already a bit used to these exchanges and felt ready. At first, we all went into a room and sat down at 4-person tables with 2 Japanese and 2 American students. We introduced ourselves and I was the youngest one at the table being 15. We asked each other some questions we had to pick out of a cup which gave me an opportunity for some Japanese practice. As I started talking it got easier to communicate and the nervousness I had vanished. However, we almost always communicated in English because like in the other exchanges, their English is miles better than my Japanese. But in the end, I enjoyed the exchange more than I thought I would going in.

We also learned more about Okinawan history and culture through the presentations the students showed us. I thought there would be some repeated information from the last group of students from Okinawa but I was surprised to see very little that I had already learned. The most interesting thing to me was the American influence and presence on the island. They told us that 80% of their town was a US military base which is unreal. They also showcased the dialect of Japanese that was from there that had some influence from English, like adding -er to the end of words to make it someone who is that word. They even use American brands as the words for some objects like using Pampers as a word for diapers.

I liked the experience overall and while there were some embarrassing parts for me, like having to teach another group of students the Cha-Cha Slide, I hope that we can do more exchanges in the future of this program, because getting to know these students and talking to them helps us improve our Japanese and our knowledge of the culture of Japan.

Life-changing はいく

By D’Amonie Armstrong

Haiku – not to be confused with Haikyuu, the anime, haha – is a traditional Japanese short three lined poem that adheres to seventeen syllables throughout, following the 5-7-5 syllable format, where the first and last lines are composed of five syllables, and the second is seven. This gives you a chance to play around with this form of art, as you have to choose specific language over others. 

We were visited by Aki Regan and Atsushi Iwai of JICC – the Japanese Information & Culture Center, part of the Embassy of Japan – back in January, in hopes that we would want to take part in their upcoming exhibit, Blossoming Flowers in Japanese Art and Poetry, from March up until May. As the theme was flowers, we were taught about certain virtues associated with specific flowers that are often used for haikus. The main five are as listed:

Peony 牡丹/ぼたん (botan) – beauty, elegance

Lily ゆり (yuri) – purity, innocence

Sunflower ひまわり (himawari) – hope, positivity

Pineまつ (matsu) sacred, determination

Cherry Blossoms /さくら (sakura) new beginnings, celebration

During their presentation, Aki and Atsushi shared examples of haiku from famous artists, but their setups were new to me. The haikus were associated with paintings, serving as a visual representation of what the poem was about. That art combination I thought was amazing, as it has never been something that crossed my mind, or anybody’s that I knew. The class was very interactive and we practiced our hiragana when reciting the haikus. My favorite had to be the Lily example, because of the various meanings the haiku had to offer. My interpretation was that the narrator was envious of the purity/innocence that their neighbor possessed.

The Embassy also told us of an idiom to keep in mind – ichigo-ichie (一期一会) or “a once-in-a-lifetime meeting.” This idiom encourages us to cherish each fleeting moment and encounter . . . I think it’s important, for us and everyone, to keep this in mind as we go on meeting new people everyday, because we will never know if the encounter could be what you have been looking for.

The process of writing our poems was pretty simple. Think of a memory that you would like to write about, typically one where you learned something, choose a flower based on the virtues it’s associated with, and then begin constructing a beautiful haiku. My thought process seems to delay when I need it the most, but I pulled through, we all did. The flower I chose to write about was Sakura because I wanted to reflect on new beginnings, such as our transitions back into school buildings from the pandemic, being a huge shift for many. I had knowledge that the Cherry Blossoms bloomed in the spring, which told people that a new school year had begun so it was perfect. 

I came up with:

When the blossoms bloom
The students meet again 
No longer through zoom

I am writing after we’ve heard that six of our class’s works got picked to be featured in the exhibition and I have the honor of being one of the students to have their work chosen. If you can, please go down and see the beautiful exhibition full of distinctive exquisite crafts. Find the details here:

Congratulations to the five other amazing peers and thank you to my entire class for sharing their artistry and experiences. And a special thanks to Aki and Atsushi for coming down to speak with us and for wanting us to be a part of the exhibit. We would enjoy having you guys come back to teach us more. We will continue to strive to connect with many through our art. And we will truly always remember to cherish 一期一会– – ”a-once-in-a-lifetime-meeting”.

A pleasant surprise

By Aaron Weeks

Our March 18 Saturday class was an overall new experience for me with meeting the group of 20 KAKEHASHI exchange students visiting DC from Okinawa, Japan. I arrived at Columbia Heights Education Campus (CHEC), where we held the exchange, not really knowing what to expect or think about it because I hadn’t gone to meet the first group of kids from the KAKEHASHI exchange program, and was kinda lost in what was going on, but it was an enjoyable experience and it was much better than how I thought it would go. I made more conversation than I thought I would and overall found myself having a nice conversation with a Japanese student.

We also learned about Okinawan culture, nature, and history. The thing I enjoyed learning about the most was Okinawan music and the music scale that they use and how it differs from the Western scale. The Okinawan musical scale cuts out the fourth and seventh scale degree to eliminate half step intervals. Basically there are two less notes than a Western musician would expect! We also learned about Okinawan food and that also was interesting to me because of the mixture of cultures that came together to create the foods. We talked about champuru, a stir fry dish composed of different vegetables to bring out the best parts of everything. 

Overall the experience was new at first and I felt anxious about it, but as I acclimated myself to the environment I enjoyed myself more. I even got to make new friends and learn new information out of the exchange, and I’m excited to do it again!

kiritsu, kiotsuke, rei, chakuseki

Elias Lovos

The first time I had done the routine, I was nervous. kiritsu, meaning to get up from your seat, kiotsuke is to get your attention, rei means to bow, and in a class setting you either say おはよう ございます meaning good morning at the start of the class, then ありがとう ございます meaning thank you and chakuseki meaning to sit down. At the end of the class, the teacher finishes last minute information and then we say さようなら, meaning goodbye.

It was nice to perform a Japanese routine done in every class, it made me feel like I was actually a part of a usual Japanese class without being inside of Japan. I enjoyed the practice and look forward to doing it again in class as time goes on.

No No Girl

By Chamiya Carnathan

On March 5th, 2023, Penelope Morris, XiaoYi Luo, and I, alongside Ms Sally Schwartz, went to the DC Independent Film Forum (DCIFF) which featured No No Girl for its closing night. Directed by Paul Daisuke Goodman, the film was about a Japanese American family who buried a secret in their backyard garden eighty years ago, on the eve of war and incarceration. Three generations later, a clue was discovered which unearthed the trauma and truth of their historic past. 

No No Girl is a story narrated by generations of Japanese Americans who are still suffering from their relatives’ internment during World War II. Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans were evicted from their houses and were transferred to barracks in isolated camps distributed across the United States by executive order. Several families, including the fictional one shown in No No Girl, did not want to leave behind beloved belongings that were too large or otherwise impractical to transport, so they buried them. After the war, Japanese American families would return to their homes to find them ransacked, destroyed, and vandalized as they faced racism and hate from white Americans. Sometimes, their belongings were outright stolen and they would have to start again and move on. No No Girl explored three generations of Japanese Americans who discovered the existence of family heirlooms in a home that is no longer theirs. In this film, we explored identity and family; nationality and pride as we watch the characters ask themselves: if it’s yours, is it really stealing?

Before the movie started, we had the opportunity to speak with Mika Dyo, the actress who played the main character in the film. Mika Dyo told us that she related to the movie because as a Japanese American, the internment camps impacted her family generations after the war, whether it was directly or indirectly. 

I asked her the question “Why is the film called No No Girl?” She responded by saying that the film was named after the No-No Boys, a group of boys who answered “no” to questions 27 and 28 on a loyalty questionnaire given to Japanese Americans during the war. Question number 27 asked if they were willing to serve on combat duty wherever ordered and asked everyone else if they would be willing to serve in other ways, such as serving in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. Question number 28 asked “Will you swear to abide by the laws of the United States and take no action which would in any way interfere with the war effort of the United States?” The No-No Boys were castigated by both the Japanese Americans and the general public because they were seen as disloyal traitors to the United States. However, the group was embraced by younger activists in the 1970s who were looking for those who resisted mass incarceration. 

The movie explored topics that I had never learned in my history classes. The history books taught me about the internment camps but I had never learned about the generations of Japanese Americans who were still being affected by the events during WWII. This movie showed the bigotry, the racism, the exploitation of Japanese American families, and the generational trauma that followed in the aftermath of World War II. This is the kind of information that our #Stop Asian Hate Project believes should be included in DC’s new social studies standards so that future DC students will gain a much deeper understanding of Asian American history.

Confidence and growth

By Jenny Gonzalez

Want to study more of your Japanese? Well, don’t you worry about it! In this program, our teachers and mini teachers (tutors)  will take the time out of their day to help you. Don’t be shy to ask for help! Trust me, I was very shy to ask for help and shyness will leave you behind. I was capable to study more of my hiragana! Everyone has room to study and learn! If you want to get out of the house, come to the Japanese study session! It helps a whole ton, and the tutors are so nice and helpful! I’ll love to even thank Satsuki-san and another tutor, Hiroki-san, in this mini blog!

I love this program and I get to learn more about Japanese culture and language. A little fun fact – Japan and China were close to each other. In the number section, it wasn’t always いち、に、さん。 (ichi, ni, san) They were ひとつ、ふた、三つ、よっす。(hitotsu, futatsu, mittsu, yottsu) There’s always room to learn anything! I suggest coming and joining Japanese Plus!

おりがみ (Origami)

By Zitlaly Hernandez

This poem is based on my experience at the JCAW New Year’s Festival I attended on January 29 in downtown DC. When making the origami, I was able to create relationships. Also, when creating these relationships, we were able to all laugh and joke about how we couldn’t for the life of us create the origamis, well not without help at least. My friends Soyeon and Seunga decided to look for an “easier” way to create a heart origami. We laughed about how we felt embarrassed to have to look up an “easier” version.

This is how my experience went but the poem talks about what origami can bring into your life and what it is. When making origami, you can connect with someone and who knows, you might make new friends or create a better relationship with those you’re already friends with. This poem was how I wanted to briefly explain but describe my experience when making Origami with these lovely people who I still keep in contact with til this day.

A beautiful art. 
A control of technique.
A test of patience.
An art of focus.
A test of trusting the process, yourself, and your capabilities
A way to connect with others through the complex forms of this beautiful art.