Building Empathy is a project of PEF and PUSD, with support from the California State Library and California Humanities

Exploration & Research

Japanese American National Museum Visit & Little Tokyo

An integral segment of the project was for students and participating teachers to learn about Little Tokyo in the context of Japanese Americans being rounded up and imprisoned after Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. Pasadena Unified is only ten miles east of Santa Anita racecourse horse stables in which Japanese American community members were rounded up and forced to stay before being relocated to concentration camps. Little Tokyo, where a large number of community members resided, was used as a space to round up Japanese American US citizens and is also just ten miles west of Pasadena.

As part of the project, PUSD collaborated with the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) and all participating students attended a field trip to Little Tokyo and JANM in 2023 as well as in 2024.

Read about the experience in Project Director Sehba Sarwar’s blogpost, Seeing the Past in the Present.

Students interact with the Common Ground exhibition at the Japanese American National Museum; Photos by Monica Lopez 

Page Header Photo: Pasadena High School students explore an exhibition at the Japanese American National Museum; Photo credit: Monica Lopez

What we hear!

“I’ve received some of the thank you letters that the kids write at the end of the year, and a lot of them mentioned that Little Tokyo was one of the best field trips. They felt it was not just fun but very educational, something that they won’t forget. That’s what we want, so it’s been wonderful.”
Elizabeth Najera Bustillos, Blair International Baccalaureate