The Stanford/SPICE East Asia Seminars for Teachers in Hawaiʻi (“Stanford SEAS Hawaiʻi”) is a professional development program for teachers in Hawaiʻi. It was launched in 2020–21 for teachers on O‘ahu. It included four virtual seminars that featured Stanford-affiliated scholars who lectured about topics related to Japan, China, Korea, and U.S.–East Asia relations. The virtual seminar series continued for a second year in 2021–22 for teachers on the islands of Hawaiʻi, Kaua‘i, and Maui. The Stanford/Freeman SEAS Hawaiʻi Teacher Fellows from both cohorts were invited to a summer institute that was held at the East-West Center from July 12 to 14, 2022. Rylan Sekiguchi, Manager of Stanford SEAS Hawaiʻi, facilitated the institute.
The institute featured welcoming comments by First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige. She noted that “This summer institute is relevant to all who live in the United States and in our unique multi-ethnic community in Hawaiʻi… Events in U.S.–Asia relations impact the Asian American experience… From our immigrant history to current news reports, the East-West Center has played a vital role in bringing understanding to the ever-evolving relationships between the U.S. and Asia…”
First Lady Amano-Ige’s comments set the context for presentations by University of Hawaiʻi-affiliated scholars, community leaders, and local writers in Hawaiʻi, and curricular presentations by SPICE staff. The first day’s theme was “Turning Points of World War II: Focus on Japan”; the second day’s theme was “Post-World War Decolonization and Conflict: Perspectives on Korea”; and the third day’s theme was “The Global Economy and Global Human Rights: Focus on China.” These topics were taken from the Hawaiʻi Core Standards for Social Studies. The presenters were:
Over the course of the three days of presentations and discussions, six concepts stood out to me. I shared my thoughts on these six concepts in my closing remarks. Below is a summary of my comments.
Ken K. Ito encouraged the Stanford/Freeman SEAS Hawaii Teacher Fellows to consider contrasting narratives as he introduced them to two short stories from 1946 that focus on survival and atrocity. Also, Yuma Totani encouraged the Teacher Fellows to consider contrasting perspectives by comparing the films Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima, which depict U.S. and Japanese perspectives, respectively, on the battle of Iwo Jima. A take-away from the presentations and discussions was that there are obstacles to understanding how historical memory about periods of war have been formed, and that there are persistent national myths about war memory.
Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences—a theory about the different ways students learn and acquire information—though never explicitly mentioned, provides an organizing framework for the presentations and discussions, especially in the area of pedagogical strategies. These multiple intelligences include artistic, linguistic, logical, kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and musical intelligences and others. The educators from the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii noted musicians at a largely unknown internment camp at Hono‘uli‘uli on O‘ahu during World War II. Learning of the musicians inspired me to seek information about the lyrics of the songs that some of the “internees” wrote as a way to gain insight into life at Hono‘uli‘uli.
This theme was a key focus of many of the presentations. Stephanie Han spoke about early Korean immigrants to Hawaiʻi and how they aided Korea’s independence movement from its colonial occupier, Japan. Sonny Zhang, Frances Goo, and Vernon Ching touched upon Chinese immigration to Hawaiʻi and the influence that some immigrants like Sun Yat Sen continued to have in China, and how Chinese Americans today (like them) continue to have a strong influence between Hawaiʻi and their ancestral homeland.
This theme was also mentioned several times. Richard Vuylsteke introduced what is happening right now with textbooks in Hong Kong and used the term “cultural destruction” when describing what is taking place in Xinjiang. Specific literature, like Richard Kim’s autobiography, Lost Names: Scenes from a Korean Boyhood, came up several times. In his autobiography, Kim recalls vivid scenes from a boyhood and early adolescence in Korea at the height of the Japanese colonial period.
Naomi Funahashi’s facilitated discussion of how the names of wars differ between countries was fascinating. One example is the use of “The American War” instead of “The Vietnam War” in Vietnamese textbooks. The map that Stephanie Han shared included the sea between the Korean peninsula and Japan labeled as the “Sea of Japan.” Korean textbooks label the sea as the “East Sea.” Other terminology—“comfort women” and “sexual slaves”; “colonizer” and “occupier”; and “mainland” and “continental U.S.”—were discussed as well. Also, Richard Vuylsteke’s overview of how China defines human rights was very insightful.
Dianne Fukami’s overview of “What Does It Mean to Be an American?” illustrated the importance of interdisciplinarity in teaching. It was especially rewarding this week to hear from the teachers’ expertise in teaching history, English, world languages, science, physical education, and social studies. Though the teachers represented diverse teaching backgrounds, together they clearly shared a dedication to teaching about East Asia, U.S.–Asia relations, and the Asian American experience.
The institute concluded with a reception. Special guests included Graeme Freeman, President of the Freeman Foundation, which generously supports Stanford SEAS Hawaiʻi. Graeme spoke about the Freeman Foundation’s mission of helping to enhance the teaching of East Asia through programs such as the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia and Stanford SEAS Hawaiʻi and expressed his gratitude to the Teacher Fellows for the ripple effect their learning has on their students.
Stanford SEAS Hawaiʻi Manager Rylan Sekiguchi reflected on the summer institute and noted, “One highlight for me was to hear many comments on the institute’s key topics and themes in the context of Hawaiʻi. Like Graeme, I’m hopeful that the content and pedagogical strategies we discussed this week will have a direct impact on Hawai‘i’s students. Given the enthusiasm I felt from the Teacher Fellows, I believe that this will certainly prove to be a reality.”