Suzume no Gakkou Offers a Rich Cultural Experience for Students

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Setsu Broderick, author of "Japanese Traditions."

By NANCY KYOKO ODA

The San Fernando Valley JACL’s retired educators are responding to parents who have asked for a rich cultural experience for students entering the second through sixth grade by planning Suzume no Gakkou for one week at the Japanese Language Institute classrooms.

Through stories like Yoshiko Uchida’s “The Bracelet,” children can learn about broken but lasting friendships caused by the internment. Another book, “Wabi Sabi” by Mark Reibstein, leads the reader to haiku and noted poet Basho. Older campers may contrast it to Hiroshi Kashiwagi’s “Meeting at Tule Lake.”

Campers will make their own Sendai Tanabata decorations with teacher Kay Yamada.

On Thursday, the 40 campers will take the Metro from North Hollywood to Japantown to visit the Japanese American National Museum for a special tour, have a taiko session, and go to Fugetsudo to meet owner Brian Kito. Activities include language, music, art, cooking, flower arrangement, and martial arts.

Valley author Setsu Broderick will sign her latest book, “Japanese Traditions: Rice Cakes, Cherry Blossoms and Matsuri,” on Friday. Her book is especially important because many of the children do not know much about their identity and are losing their culture. Heritage Source (www.heritagesource.com) is sponsoring this appearance, which will help home libraries reflect more of Japanese culture and Japanese American history.

Like the kamishibai man of the old days, Nancy Oda will click-clack loudly to let the campers know it is storytime. Finally, the grandparents will take pictures with their offspring at the closing ceremony after viewing projects that include clay from Mother Earth, Daruma dolls that urge perseverance, and songs that baachans sing, like “Suzume no Gakkou” (School for Sparrows), taught by one of original founders of the program, Nancy Gohata.

This display will be part of the San Fernando Valley Obon on Saturday and Sunday, July 2-3, from 4:30 to 9 p.m. at San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center, 12953 Bradford St. in Pacoima.

For details on the summer program, visit https://sites.google.com/site/suzumenogakko/.

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