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 simpleGoogle 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To mark the 10th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake on 3-11-2011, the students in our online Japanese Tamago program used video and other resources to learn about the horrific events that unfolded that day. The goal was to help our DC students connect with the experience and the residents of Tohoku, and to try to imagine themselves in the moment. Here are some of their immediate responses.
By Zoe Roell
Ground splits Black waves Homes fall Lives collapse Wreckage The world grieves
By Hallie Munsat
In 2011, an earthquake and tsunami occurred on the pacific coast of Tohuku in Japan. The magnitude of the earthquake came to be 9.0-9.1. This terrible tragedy turned out to be the most recent deadliest earthquake. It left almost 16,000 people dead, about 6,000 injured and 2,500 people missing. Now ten years after the fact it’s still left many people unstable emotionally and financially. I cannot even begin to imagine what being in that situation is like. It’s bad enough to experience it in the moment, it’s worse to live with it for the rest of your life. This was an event that couldn’t really have been prevented. It’s terrifying to go through things you can’t control and it takes time to process things like that. We have to be gentle to ourselves and others during hard times and we have to be there for each other to listen, and to support. Because of the severity of this event, many people in the same community went through the same thing. There’s always someone to listen to or understand because no one is alone.
By Penelope Morris
At first, I almost couldn’t believe that three events that would by themselves have been horrific to deal with, all happened simultaneously and hurt so many people. But the damage was right there in front of my eyes.
By Kourtney Beauvais
My initial reaction to the film of 3/11 was shock. I wasn’t aware of how fast the devastation occurred, and couldn’t imagine what it would feel like to be there. With the recurring earthquakes, I assume that the residents of the area had very conflicting emotions, flicking back and forth between hope and desperation and fear. It makes me wonder if they were thinking about what was happening in the present, what the future consequences would be, or a mixture of both. It was also saddening to think of the feeling of loss, not only of belongings and a familiar landscape, but of their family, friends, and community.
By Sakarrio Moore
I’ve never experienced any tragedy of this magnitude, and I literally can’t imagine the physiological response of people who lived there. I just feel so sorry. I imagine that in the instant, people would have just felt as if the world itself was against them.
By Akesh Mallia
My reflection on 3-11 is that it was really heartbreaking to see so many lives impacted by something as uncontrollable as nature. I thought it was especially scary when the tsunami hit the people trying to escape by car, those people couldn’t even evacuate. And the impacts of the natural disasters are very much still present today, especially with the nuclear meltdown which I think shows the scale of the earthquake. I hope safety measures and public awareness measures are being put in place to prevent this type of event from happening again.
By Owen Strasberg
I found it interesting how initially even though the situation seemed very chaotic, people were handling it calmly (like when everyone was evacuating). It was sort of scary though to think that whatever high ground people stayed at was where they would have to be for the whole thing, and you would just have to hope it was safe enough.
By Dara Lira
If I previously lived in Japan, I would probably not pay much attention to the earthquake at first. However, as the day progresses, I would become more scared, confused, disturbed, and shocked at the events unfolding before me. A matter of life or death such as this terrifies me, and I can hardly imagine what this was actually like, especially seeing as I’ve never been in an earthquake before.
By Chamiya Carnathan
The amount of earthquakes that appeared continuously during March 11 was mind blowing to me. I can’t imagine how scary the situation must have been for everyone inhabiting that area. Earthquakes are common in Japan and I wonder if the inhabitants living in the affected area thought that it would be a regular occurrence. I truly cannot imagine the fear of earthquakes that were that large being struck down on me. The biggest takeaway that I gained from watching the video and map is that you have to go to high ground. Don’t worry about taking pictures and videos or watching what’s happening. Worry about your own safety and go to high ground.
By Camila Marryshow
If anyone had known March 11, 2011 would have submerged entire towns in water along with thousands of other civilians fighting for their lives, there would have been preventative action to protect the people along Japan’s east coast. But there was no way of knowing the events that would unfold within those 24 hours.
Employees worked to earn their pay to support themselves and their families. Graduations occurred. Earning diplomas, congratulating friends, and celebrating achievements of other students would soon be replaced with sheltering in place under desks, evacuating school and office buildings, and rushing to higher ground to ensure safety. Some walked away with missing friends while others without families to provide for. Some could not walk away from their cars with water impeding their ability to escape while others would never walk the Earth again. The tsunami stripped towns of commerce, buildings, history, and many of its residents.
Within 24 hours, several earthquakes evolved into a 9.1-magnitude earthquake that generated waves many meters high devastating hundreds of square miles of Japanese land. Over 120,000 buildings were destroyed. More than 100,000 people lost their homes. Nearly 20,000 people died.
The Tohoku region of Japan along with other coastal areas have worked over the past ten years to rebuild Japan and provide housing to those who are in need. The survivors who witnessed the events of that day will be able to not only recount the suffering numerous people endured, but can speak of the recovery and progress the Japanese people have made from the rubble of the tragedy.