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.

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.

Kakehashi x Globalize DC

By Chamiya Carnathan

On February 5th, 2023, Globalize DC met with Kakehashi, a program where students of Hiroshima Global Academy and Akifuchi High School visited Washington D.C. from February 1 to 8, 2023. On February 5th, I met new friends that I hope to see again. The Kakehashi program traveled to all parts of DC, visited a lot of museums, and visited high schoolers in Virginia. We didn’t know that we would have the opportunity to meet with Japanese students until three weeks ago. At that point, I knew that I had to study more in order to practice my language skills. I thought that I was so prepared to meet them with three sheets of practice questions. I was so wrong.

The day started with Globalize DC meeting up with Kakehashi at Z burger at Tenleytown, Washington DC. After we ordered our meals, me and Penelope Morris paired up to interact with two Kakehashi students. I was extremely nervous and I constantly went over what to say in my head. I began with はじめましてシャマイヤです (Hello, my name is Chamiya). They told us their names and at their point, I met りょうごさん (Ryogo) and としさん (Toshi). We conversed in both English and Japanese (mainly English) and I asked りょうごさん (Ryogo) “Purple”ってにほんごでなんですか”. It’s むらさき. I continued to meet new people throughout the trip such as れいなさん (Reina), こうあさん (Koa), かえらさん (Kaera), and many more. Everyone was super nice and I loved hearing the reasons for why they are studying English.  

I thought I was prepared to talk in Japanese but I messed up words and I forgot how to say certain phrases. But once I was talking to my new friends, I realized that it was okay to mess up. They helped me with saying what I wanted to say. We helped each other out as としさん (Toshi) and りょうごさん (Ryogo) taught me and Penelope on how to use “まじ” which is basically the Japanese version of “very,” “really,” and “so.” We taught them some American slang and games like the finger game called “sticks.” Even though I messed up my Japanese, this exchange has made me want to continue learning Japanese. I sometimes had doubts on whether I should continue to learn Japanese but meeting them has made me rekindle my love for learning the language. 

This experience will forever be one of my favorite memories. I learned so much about Japanese culture from interacting with Japanese students for one day than I ever will from the internet. As we became new friends, we exchanged Instagram handles so that we could keep in touch. I will forever cherish this moment and I hope to meet my new friends in the future again. 

How are we doing?

From the Director:

Learning Japanese isn’t easy. Listen to our Japanese Plus students to get an idea of what it’s like – the ups, the downs, the triumphs, and the challenges.

By Margarita:

Hiragana. One of the three Japanese alphabets. I thought it would take me years to learn it, but I was wrong. Hiragana actually sounds a lot like Spanish, so it was easy to remember the pronunciation. Every time we would learn a new character, it felt like art class, drawing the long and curvy lines actually felt calming. Writing the simplest word in Hiragana made me feel like I was making a masterpiece though I’m still memorizing some characters, it will never not be fun.

By Chamiya

I have always wanted to travel to anywhere and everywhere ever since I traveled to Thailand. And of course, Japan is on my bucket list. But ever since I started learning Japanese, I’ve been wanting to go more. I like the aspect of learning a new language and immersing myself in a completely different culture from my own. And I especially like converting names to katakana. If you look on my phone contacts, half of the contacts are in Japanese. Katakana is so cool to look at, to read, and to figure out what the word is in English. My own family can’t figure out what the words mean but once I say it to them, they can understand it completely fine. It’s really cool immersing myself in another language and I can’t wait to travel to Japan one day.

By Thalia

For me learning Japanese has been such a fun experience. I’ve met new people who I can connect to. I think trying to learn all the Hiragana at once has been a struggle because some letters look similar. I was having a hard time with M-N but once I got it, it was so easy and made it easier to read.

By Penelope

I’m still really enjoying Japanese class. Recently, we started learning about family and kinship terms, and I like this because it’s fun to be able to ask about other peoples’ lives and to have longer conversations. Something I find particularly interesting is that there are different words for your own relatives and for others’. This is because politeness is very important in Japan, so you have to use a more respectful term if you’re inquiring about someone else’s family. I find it interesting how language and culture are intertwined and how they affect each other, and this is a cool example of that.

By Zitlaly

Japanese . . . is a whole obstacle course you have to go through these hurdles just to go through the same hurdle, and another one and . . . another one. But through time you start to comprehend and memorize the hurdle and get through them way easier than the time before. But if you don’t adjust, you’ll only start to get tired and stressed from how many times you keep falling/failing.

By Mei

During these last few months of being in Japanese class I learned so many things about the Japanese language. One of the things that stood out to me is the different terms to have a conversation with someone. Having a conversation or even addressing someone depends on your relationship with that person and if that person is older than you. In English, people almost always talk in a casual way to their friends, teachers, family, and even to strangers. But in Japan, this shifts into a formal manner when addressing someone older than you. For example, in English we only have one way to thank someone no matter their age or status and that’s by saying “thank you.” But in Japan when thanking someone close like a friend or family they will say “arigoto,” but when thanking a teacher, co-worker, boss, stranger, or just someone older they will say “arigato gozaimasu.”

Our Call to Action

By Chamiya Carnathan and Penelope Morris
On behalf of Globalize DC’s #Stop Asian Hate Project

In the spring of 2021, amidst rising rates of anti-AAPI hate, some students from our after-school Japanese Tamago program testified before the DC State Board of Education (SBOE) to demand more inclusion of Asian and Asian American content in the DC social studies standards (what all DC public school students in DCPS and DC charter schools are required to learn).

What students learn in school is key to reducing anti-Asian/AAPI hate, and DC’s current social studies standards are not adequately addressing this issue.

Here are just some of the issues we noticed when we reviewed the standards back in 2021:

  • The inclusion of Asian and Asian American content starts far too late in the curriculum – around sixth grade.
  • Most mentions of Asia and Asians are political and fail to explore other aspects of Asian history and culture.
  • Asian history is often explored in relation to American history, not as its own story.
  • Most importantly, there simply isn’t enough Asian and Asian American content in the standards!

You can read more about our findings and recommendations HERE.

Luckily, the DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), with guidance from the State Board, is currently in the process of rewriting the social studies standards. We expect draft standards will be out in mid-December for public comment.

We need to get ready!!

So we at Globalize DC are inviting other DC students and recent graduates (as well as other interested community members) to join with us to review and critique the new draft standards and give meaningful feedback to OSSE and the Board to get the best standards possible. This can make a huge difference in how DC students are educated in the future.

If you or anyone you know is passionate about Asian/AAPI culture and social justice, fill out this simple Google Form so we can keep you updated.

As soon as the draft standards are released in mid-December, we will schedule an open meeting on Zoom to share information and strategy ideas with interested persons (both students and adults). Our online meeting previously scheduled for December 8 is being postponed until that time.

If you have questions or immediate thoughts, please email

Thank you.

Jumping into Japanese

Our SY2022-23 Japanese Plus program has begun, and that means intense Japanese classes twice a week. Here are some quick reflections from some of our students about starting out to learn one of the world’s most challenging languages.


So my name is Kayla and I joined my Japanese class almost a month ago and it has been one of the best things I’ve done for myself. Learning Japanese has expanded my intelligence. I don’t only know Spanish but I also am learning Japanese and as a young black lady that is wonderful and my family is very proud. Something that I really like about this class is the diversity. There are many different people trying to learn a new culture and language, that is very beautiful to me. I will continue my classes and I hope to learn so much more with my wonderful teachers and classmates.


I’m a little bit worried about keeping notes and keeping the knowledge I learned in each class in my head. The three alphabets also scare me a bit, especially because of the chance I’ll feel overwhelmed. I’m honestly scared of feeling overwhelmed and falling behind, but I’m excited to see all the amazing things we’ll do in this program, and the amazing and unique people I’ll eventually meet.


With Japanese classes I am surprised on how much we are learning so far. I feel that when we interact with the teachers and other classmates we learn more which I also find very fun. I like it when we talk to each other, because it makes us all feel closer as friends and/or a community. It’s also fun to see other people learn with you.


Since I have started learning Japanese 2 years ago, the beginning lessons are reviews for me. I know the hiragana and katakana alphabet and a few phrases. But, there are still a few phrases that I have learned. For example, “Anoo, onamae-wa?” which means what is your name. I am really excited for future classes for this 2 year program.


I’ve been enjoying the classes so far. I feel like I’ve been keeping up well. I find it interesting how everyone is referred to a different way, depending on your relationship with the person. For example, you would always call your teacher sensei even when you leave school.


I think learning Japanese will help me grow – to try new things. So far I’ve had a nice experience. I’ve met people who have the same interest as me. I think the lessons are just right and if I practice and study, it can really help me.


I’m really enjoying Japanese Plus so far. I’ve studied Japanese before, but never in person, and I find that I’m learning new vocabulary much faster this way. One thing I find challenging is knowing when to use each level of formality, for example  おはよう versus  おはようございます. I’m looking forward to learning more during the next two years.

Meet and Greet with Graham

By Chamiya Carnathan

Have you ever wondered what candidates running for DC Council member in DC are thinking of the rising violence against Asians and Pacific Islanders? On Friday, October 14th, 2022, my classmate, Penelope Morris, and I, along with the Executive Director of Globalize DC, met Graham McLaughlin in the home of Allister Chang and discussed with him the issues of anti-Asian hate. 

Graham McLaughlin is an Executive at a Fortune 10 company. For eight years, he rented rooms in his house to men out of jail or federal prison to support former inmates in the District. He also frequently hosts events at his home: Sunday meals for talking about religion, Thursday dinners for ex-offenders to learn business skills, and Pancake Saturdays for ex-offenders rebuilding their lives as well as anyone else in the mood for brunch and chat. He received an endorsement from the Washington Post stating that his top priorities include reducing crime and discrimination against LGBT residents. 

Because he knew about our Japanese Tamago #Stop Asian Hate Project, Allister Chang, Ward 2 Member on the DC State Board of Education, invited Globalize DC, as well as several of his own friends, to his home to meet Graham McLaughlin and raise concerns about affordable housing, violence against ethnic groups, support for teachers, and more. “On your education page, I see that you’re passionate about getting children the education that they need,” I said in response to one of the numerous inquiries Graham received, “The social studies standards don’t provide enough information on Asian American history, so I was curious what you thought about inclusion of Asian American standards.” Graham retorted that while he agrees that the standards fall short of meeting their full potential in terms of Asian American content, he lacks the necessary background to speak on the subject of curriculum and Asian American history. In response, Penelope asked if he would be open to collaborating with AAPI organizations to discuss the inclusion of more Asian American history in the DCPS Social Studies Standards. In response, Graham said that he definitely would work with AAPI organizations to advance Asian inclusion in education in the future. This response fit Graham’s character, as he seemed to appreciate the need for collaboration in order to resolve many of DC’s concerns.

In conclusion, meeting Graham McLaughlin was a terrific opportunity to learn about the political philosophies of prospective Council members. I learned from meeting Graham that he was an honest man who was aware of his talents as well as areas where he still needed to learn more. 

Would you go to Temple University Japan?

By Chamiya Carnathan

SY2022-2023 is my junior year. It means tough classes, building relationships with teachers, giving advice to underclassmen, and most importantly, worrying about college. I had no clue where I wanted to go for college, but on October 15th, Ha Nguyen talked to Japanese Plus about Temple University, Japan. 

Temple University, Japan Campus (TUJ) is an international campus of Temple University in Philadelphia. TUJ is officially recognized by Japan’s Ministry of Education and offers American bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in Tokyo. Studying in Japan was an option that I wanted to do but I wasn’t sure if I needed to be proficient in Japanese. Luckily, TUJ’s classes are taught in English and no Japanese proficiency is required. Ha Nguyen explained that even though the classes are taught in English, TUJ is a gateway towards immersing yourself in Japan’s culture, language, and history. And even though Temple University is an American college, TUJ has students from Australia, Brazil, Taiwan, and many other countries. 

The best part of TUJ is that it is affordable. The average annual tuition and fees at TUJ is about 44% less than out-of-state and 60% less than private colleges or universities for tuition and fees. You can apply for TUJ through the college app and there are no specific requirements for applying for a college out of the country. There is also student aid and scholarships that I can apply for if I want to go to TUJ.

Part of my junior year experience is stressing about which college I want to apply for. Because of Ha Nyugen, she opened up a path that I never knew existed. I now have a secondary option for my original plan. Even one of the past Japanese Plus members, Asa Marshall, is currently attending Temple University in Japan. Who knows, maybe I’ll attend TUJ too.

You can learn more about Temple University, Japan Campus right here:

Chamiya’s Reflection

By Chamiya Carnathan

At first, I got interested in learning Japanese because of anime but when I joined the Japanese Tamago program, I learned so many cultural aspects of Japan that I didn’t know of. I want to continue learning cultural aspects of Japan and the language in the future and I hope to do so with Globalize DC. The most difficult part of staying in the program was attending the meetings. At times, I had to miss a few meetings due to personal problems, but nonetheless, I was able to overcome those challenges. My favorite part of the program were the Sunday meetings when we learned Hiragana and Katakana. The Sunday meetings were my favorite part because I was excited to read and write in Japanese. The day that I learned how to write my name in Japanese was my favorite day that I spent in the Japanese program. At first, learning Japanese was a hobby for me but now, I might want to have a job that includes aspects of Japan in the future. Even if I don’t have a job that includes aspects of Japan, I would still want to continue learning the language. Overall, I am happy that I attended the Japanese Tamago program.

A Chopsticks Lesson

By Chamiya Carnathan

I decided to join Japanese Tamago because I was interested in Japan’s culture and I wanted to learn Japanese. I was also greatly encouraged to learn more about Japan because of the growing popularity of anime and ramen. I’ve continued with the program because I have learned a lot from the program, both the Japanese language and culture. 

One thing that I learned from Japanese Tamago were the origins of Japanese chopsticks and their similarities and differences with Korea’s and China’s chopsticks. Chopsticks originated from the Shang Dynasty and both Korea and Japan adopted the chopsticks from China. There are some similarities between the three chopsticks, but China, Korea, and Japan have different customs that associate with their chopsticks. 

As you can see, Chinese chopsticks are the longest out of the three, while Japan’s chopsticks are the shortest. Chinese chopsticks are usually made out of bamboo, plastic, or ivory and they are about 10 inches long. They have blunt ends and they are a rectangle shape. Chinese chopsticks are long because they could be used as cooking utensils and also for shared dishes. Korean chopsticks are usually made with metal and they are a rectangular shape. They could also be decorated at the ends. Japanese chopsticks are shorter and rounder than Korean and Chinese chopsticks. They also have a pointier end because it makes it easier to eat fish. 

I encourage you to research the different customs and history for Chinese, Japanese, and Korean chopsticks. It is really interesting and engaging and I enjoyed learning about it.