Academic, Event

Young Historians, Living Histories Project

AALEAD Students at the RACE Exhibition, National Museum of Natural History.

The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center is launching the Young Historians, Living Histories Project to engage underserved young people in Asian Pacific American communities to explore, contextualize, and deepen their understanding of their own history and their community.  During a one-week workshop, participants will learn about the Asian Pacific American experience through the exhibition I Want the Wide American Earth as well as other related resources.  Participants will also learn the basics of storytelling, conducting research and oral history, and using technology such as filmmaking and editing, to produce short videos that will be shown on the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center’s website.

Participating Museums and Organizations

  • Wing Luke Museum of the Asian American Experience (Seattle, WA)
  • Institute of Texan Cultures (San Antonio, TX)
  • Western Reserve Historical Society (Cleveland, OH)
  • The Sonoma County Museum (Santa Rosa, CA)
  • Pacific Aviation Museum (Honolulu, HI)
  • Greensboro Historical Museum (Greensboro, NC)
  • Riverside Metropolitan Museum (Riverside, CA)
  • Littleton Museum (Littleton, CO)
  • Historic Arkansas Museum (Little Rock, AR)
  • Oklahoma History Center ( Oklahoma City, OK)
  • Asian American LEAD Program (Washington, DC)

Partner Organizations

Smithsonian Affiliations (SA)

The Smithsonian’s unparalleled collections, scholarship, and exhibitions document the world in all of its beauty, diversity, and complexity. The mission of Smithsonian Affiliations is to share these resources with Americans in their own communities by developing collaborative partnerships with museums, cultural and educational organizations.  The Smithsonian Affiliations brings the Smithsonian, in all of its breadth and scope, to local communities and create lasting experiences that broaden perspectives on science, history, world cultures and the arts.

Center for Asian American Media (CAAM)

The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) is a non-profit organization dedicated to presenting stories that convey the richness and diversity of Asian American experiences to the broadest audience possible.  CAAM funds, produces, distributes and exhibits works in film, television and digital media.

Project Funding

Funding is provided by the Smithsonian Youth Access Grant administered by The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Education and Access.

Academic, Event, Lecture, Literary

Event: Book Talk with Dr. Nalini Natarajan

Friday, April 5th, 2013

12:30 p.m. — 1:30 p.m.

CFCH Conference Room
Capital Gallery, 2nd Floor

600 Maryland Ave SW
Washington, DC 20024
Google Map

Metro: L’Enfant Plaza

Free and open to the public.

The Indian American Heritage Project at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (CFCH) present a brown-bag book talk by Dr. Nalini Natarajan, Professor of English at the University of Puerto Rico – Rio Piedras in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on her new book Atlantic Gandhi: The Mahatma Overseas.

Atlantic Gandhi examines Gandhi’s experience as a traveler moving from a classic colony, India, to the plantation and mining society of South Africa and argues that his diasporic life resonates with recent perspectives on the Atlantic, as an ocean that not just transported the victims of a greedy plantation system, but also saw the ferment of revolutionary ideas.

Related Links:

Academic, Event, Literary, Performance

Recap and Video: Between Image & Word Symposium

click image to view more photos

The Edgar P. Richardson Symposium Asian American Portraits of Encounter: Between Image & Word was held on April 14, 2012 at the National Portrait Gallery’s McEvoy Auditorium and featured readings by seven renowned Asian Pacific American writers: Bao Phi, Marianne Villanueva, Marie Myung-Ok Lee, Kazim Ali, Anna Kazumi Stahl, David Henry Hwang, and Garrett Hongo.

 Lawrence-Minh Bui Davis

The purpose of the symposium was eloquently expressed by Lawrence-Minh Bùi Davis, editor of the Asian American Literary Review, in his opening remarks:

“There’s greater production of Asian American arts and letters now than ever before, but I think that it’s easy to see the writers as if they’re at their separate tables at a giant book fair, or artists at their respective galleries, sort of as a chain of islands of disparate talents… And the impetus for this event is to view Asian American arts and letters as a living body, a living community that needs nurturing and provoking, precisely by means of exchange and conversation, and we hope today’s event provides these sorts of exchange and dialogue.”

Konrad Ng, Director of the Smithsonian APA Program, also gave remarks via video that compliment the mission of the symposium:

“…what you do, what you write, what you create, is of great importance and relevance because the meaning of your work far exceeds the fact of its existence.   Your work captures the particularities of this time and allows future generations to admire creative expression and respect critical interventions. The idea of today’s event grew out of the recognition that art and literature possess profound powers, and the encounter between Asian American writers, as they respond to Asian American portraiture, could incubate critical acts of creativity. “

The four-hour symposium also featured the artwork of Roger Shimomura, Hey Yeon Nam, CYJO, Shizu Saldamando, Hong Chun Zhang, Tam Tran, and Satomi Shirai, all of which are currently on display in the Asian American Portraits of Encounter exhibition. Each of the seven participating writers was paired with a visual portrait from the exhibition and asked to create an original literary work in response. Presented in the form of poems, short stories, and plays, these response pieces explored themes of identity, immigration, xenophobia, Asian American stereotypes, and cultural dissonance. The writers also shared personal anecdotes and other works from their oeuvre with similar thematic content. Ranging from comedic send-ups of youth culture to deeply heartfelt narrations of the artists’ own creative and personal journeys, the great diversity of works presented that afternoon provided a bridge between the visual and literary arts, and hopefully prompted some thought-provoking discussions on what it means to be Asian American today.

Watch the webcast video below or on our Ustream page.

Between Image & Word was organized and presented by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Asian American Literary Review with generous funding from the Commissioner Edgar P. Richardson Symposium Fund of the National Portrait Gallery and OCA-DC.

Related Links:

Academic, Event, Lecture

(Re)Presenting America: The Evolution of Culturally Specific Museums

(Re)Presenting America Symposium

April 25, 2012
9:30am — 5:30pm

Rasmuson Theater
National Museum of the American Indian
4th and Independence Ave, SW
Washington, DC 20560
Google Map

Metro: L’Enfant Plaza

Reception to follow in the
Museum’s Potomac Atrium
at 6pm—8pm

Free and open to the public.

Update: This event has passed. To watch video clips, click here.

Join an important conversation about the role of “ethnic” or “culturally specific” museums with museum directors and scholars from across the National Mall and beyond. Moderated by Ray Suarez of PBS NewsHour, the program features Wayne Clough, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution; Konrad Ng, director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program; Richard Kurin, Smithsonian Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture; Claudine Brown, Smithsonian Assistant Secretary for Education and Access; and Lonnie Bunch, director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Participants also include Clement Price, professor at Rutgers University and director of the Institute on Ethnicity, Culture and the Modern Experience; David Hurst Thomas, Curator, Department of Anthropology, American Museum of Natural History; Philip Kennicott, critic, The Washington Post; and Congressman Xavier Becerra. Lively panel discussions will feature David Penney, Associate Director for Museum Scholarship, National Museum of the American Indian; Lawrence Pijeaux, President & CEO, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute; Helen Samhan, Senior Outreach Advisor, Arab American National Museum; Beth Takekawa, Executive Director, Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience; and Carlos Tortolero, President, National Museum of Mexican Art.

Performance artist Kip Fulbeck engages the symposium audience with a dynamic performance exploring multiracial identity. At a reception following the symposium, artist Bunky Echo-Hawk (Pawnee/Yakama) will offer a “live art” performance during which he invites his audience to suggest themes that he incorporates into a painting that he then spontaneously creates.

Related Links:

To RSVP or for further information, please contact

Academic, Event, Family, Film, History, Japanese American, Lecture

Recap: Annual Day of Remembrance at the Smithsonian


Poster design by Nigel Briggs, National Museum of American History

By Noriko Sanefuji (Curatorial Assistant) and Christine Chou (intern)

This year’s Day of Remembrance (DOR) was special for many reasons. Not only is it the 70th anniversary since the signing of Executive Order 9066, the action that led to the imprisonment of more than 110,000 Japanese Americans during World War II, it was also to honor the Japanese American WWII veterans that were recently awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

The program began with a keynote speech by Secretary of Veterans Affairs General Eric Shinseki (watch the video clip above or download his speech here). He reflected on the roles of Japanese Americans who volunteered in the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and the Military Intelligence Service during World War II. General Shinseki recognized their merit in receiving the award and stated that their legacy shows what it means to be an American to future generations. He said:

PDF of Shinseki's Speech

Download PDF

“In all my years in the military, I can find no better, no more compelling, and no more inspiring story of what it means to be an American than the stories and battle histories of the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and the Military Intelligence Service. They were premiere warfighting units ranking among the very best in U.S. military history. The legacy of those who served in those units is a tradition of patriotism, loyalty, courage, honor, dedication and sacrifice that’s as old as the American Revolution. Their’s is an American story.”

General Shinseki’s keynote speech was followed by a film highlighting the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony.  Afterward, there was a panel discussion that included Grant Ichikawa, MIS veteran; Gerald Yamada, Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA) president; Christine Sato-Yamazaki Chairperson, National Veteran Network; and Doug Sterner, author of Go For Broke.  The panel was moderated by Franklin Odo, former director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program. Everyone provided insights about the significance of the Congressional Gold Medal and the process of recognizing Japanese American WWII veterans.

DOR Recap

Day of Remembrance Recap

Dr. Odo began the discussion by asking the panelists: “What does the Congressional Gold Medal mean to you?”  Mr. Ichikawa recalled his experiences in the MIS and reflected on how proud he is to be a recipient of the medal.  Ms. Sato-Yamazaki expressed her feelings on how the award ceremony represented the completion of a difficult, two-year effort to obtain congressional approval for the medal.  Mr. Sterner explained how the medal was the highest honor bestowed by Congress.  According to Mr. Yamada, the award gives JAVA the chance to make the Nisei soldiers’ legacy a living story, rather than just a historic one.

Museum visitors viewed the actual Congressional Gold Medal up close during the event.  Objects made inside the barbed wire camps during WWII were also on display at a nearby education cart. Artifacts were brought out of storage for DOR, and experts were also available to answer questions from the visitors at the education carts. Representatives from the U.S. Mint were there to discuss how the medal was created.

Interns at an education cart

Interns Christine Chou (Smithsonian APA Program) and Erin Anderson (National Museum of American History) talk to a visitor at an education cart. Photo by Donald Hurlbert, NMNH

Smithsonian APA Program intern Christine Chou designed a second educational cart as an interactive way of learning about daily life in internment camps. Objects on display included typical mess hall food, tools from working life, school artifacts, leisure items (like a baseball), and craft materials used for art projects. Historical photos complimented the objects to provide a more complete picture of camp living conditions. Everyone was encouraged to pick up and touch the objects. Some of the most popular items were the medical tools, including a stethoscope, head mirror, and elbow splint, which visitors were free to try on and use.

Another popular item, the dog tags of a Japanese American World War II veteran, belonged to Grant Ichikawa, who was interned before joining the military. As visitors held his dog tags, they were told that Mr. Ichikawa was actually in the museum that day to tell people about his experiences, and it was a quietly powerful moment. For visitors and volunteers at the cart that day, having the opportunity to interact with these artifacts helped foster a deeper connection to our national history.

Related Links:

Related Blogs:

Related Podcast: History Explorer: Japanese American Internment and WWII Service
Listen to the Podcast (MP3 file)
View more photos

Curatorial assistant Noriko Sanefuji interviews Grant Ichikawa, a U.S. veteran who enlisted after being relocated to a Japanese American internment camp with his family in 1942. Allowed to join the army after a need for interpreters, Mr. Ichikawa served the country proudly. In 2011, he and other veterans were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his service.

Veteran Grant Ichikawa

Curatorial assistant Noriko Sanefuji interviews Grant Ichikawa at the National Museum of American History, February 2012.

TalkBack Board

TalkBack Board

We also utilized the National Museum of American History’s TalkBack Boards program to invite the museum visitors to post their comments.

Today the U.S. Mint will be presenting the Congressional Gold Medal to Japanese Americans to honor their service during WII. How do you think America should honor its veterans?

You can join the online conversation by clicking here.

Academic, Event, Filipino American

Rick Baldoz – Empire and Migration in Filipino America

Rick Baldoz Brown Bag Lunch Lecture

Rick Baldoz Brown Bag Lunch Lecture

The Smithsonian APA Program, APA Heritage Committee, and Latino Center hosted a brown bag lunch lecture featuring scholar Rick Baldoz to commemorate Filipino American History Month.

Click here to download the PDF flyer

Rick Baldoz explores the complex relationship between Filipinos and the United States by looking at the politics of immigration, race, and citizenship on both sides of the Philippine-American divide: internationally through an examination of American imperial ascendancy and domestically through an exploration of the social formation of Filipino communities in the United States. He reveals how American practices of racial exclusion repeatedly collided with the geo-political imperatives of U.S. overseas expansion. A unique portrait of the Filipino American experience, The Third Asiatic Invasion links the Filipino experience to that of Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Chinese and Native Americans, among others, revealing how the politics of exclusion played out over time against different population groups.

Rick Baldoz is a professor of sociology at Oberlin College. He is the author of The Third Asiatic Invasion: Empire and Migration in Filipino America 1898-1946 (NYU Press) and co-author of The Critical Study of Work: Labor, Technology and Global Production (Temple University Press). His work has appeared in Ethnic and Racial Studies, Du Bois Review, and American Studies. His current project focuses on Filipinos and Puerto Ricans who served in the United States armed forces during World Wars One and Two.

Academic, Event

Teacher’s Night 2011 Recap

A few of our interns at the APA Program table during Smithsonian Teachers' Night 2011.

Interns at the APA Program table during Smithsonian Teachers' Night 2011. From left: Tiffany Quebral, Jasmine Fernandez, and Kirsten McMurdo.

Recap by Fall 2011 intern Tiffany Quebral

Four floors of the National Museum of the American Indian filled with over 4,000 teachers and hundreds of staff, interns and volunteers made this year’s Smithsonian Teachers’ Night a success.  In addition to all the people, the array of freebies spanned from brochures to enormous tote bags.  Of course, the complimentary food and drinks didn’t hurt anyone.  At our Asian Pacific American Program table, our stash of bookmarks, brochures, and pens (especially pens) emptied out quickly.  Besides getting all the perks at Teachers’ Night, its educational purposes were definitely reached.  In addition to educating teachers about the mission of our program, we conducted an informal survey to help with the development of a curriculum for HomeSpun in 2013.  We received about twenty surveys which I’m sure will be valuable when we start writing the curriculum.

I think we gave teachers a chance to step out of their classroom books and standards and see the array of opportunities and programs that the Smithsonian can provide.  It was great to see the genuine respect and enthusiasm teachers have for the Smithsonian. My hope is that our presence broadened teachers’ perspective of the importance of learning about the Asian Pacific American experience in the classroom.