Pearl Harbor Education Boosted by $150,000 Grant

The East-West Center’s AsiaPacificEd Program for Schools has been awarded a $150,000 “Landmarks of American History and Culture” grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to conduct teachers workshops on “Pearl Harbor: History, Memory, and Memorial.” These workshops are co-sponsored by the Arizona Memorial Museum Association, the National Park Service, and the Japan American Society and will be held at the East-West Center during the summer of 2009. This is the fifth Landmarks grant that NEH has awarded to the East-West Center for the Pearl Harbor workshops.

The workshops are open to middle and high school humanities educators in public, private, and charter schools as well as home-schooling parents. There is no registration fee, and participants receive a stipend. For application information contact the East-West Center’s AsiaPacificEd Program at (808) 944-7378 or email: Click here to read about last year’s Pearl Harbor workshop.

The weeklong workshops, scheduled for late July and repeated in early August, will bring a total of 80 U.S. teachers and 20 Japanese teachers together to engage in intensive study and discussion of the events and meaning of Pearl Harbor in U.S. and world history, thereby adding depth as well as breadth to the “Pearl Harbor attack” narrative presented in standard textbooks. Participants will visit the Arizona Memorial and related attack sites in order to gain a sense of the time and place represented by these historic resources. As Pearl Harbor is still a living history, teachers will have the unique opportunity to meet with Pearl Harbor survivors, WWII generation residents of Hawaii, and Japanese Americans who spent the wartime years in internment camps, and to experience history “come alive” through their oral histories.

Namji Steinemann, director of the AsiaPacificEd Program, notes that the workshop goes beyond the usual treatment of Pearl Harbor by exploring the diverse national and ethnic perspectives on its history. “In this way,” Steinemann explains, “we are reminded that despite the mythic status of the Pearl Harbor story in American culture, there are in fact a number of ‘Pearl Harbors’ with different impacts and memories for diverse Americans and for people throughout the world.”

Teachers will work in small groups to develop more effective and meaningful ways of using historic landmarks and archival resources to teach about Pearl Harbor. “The workshop will introduce teachers to the ‘living history’ of the USS Arizona Memorial and help them make connections between the methods of public history, the meanings of a ‘sacred’ historic site, and classroom applications,” said Steinemann.

NEH established the Landmarks grant program as part of its “We the People” initiative to encourage and strengthen the teaching, study and understanding of American history and culture. Additional support is provided by the Arizona Memorial Museum Association. The participation of the Japanese teachers is made possible through a grant from the Freeman Foundation.

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