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

California Humanities: Learning from Students

In 2023-24, eight ninth graders who were part of the Building Empathy project as eighth graders at Blair’s Dual Language Immersion Program (DLIP), shifted from being students to receiving the same training as their teachers. In summer 2023, the students attended a week of professional development training at PUSD’s annual Ethnic Studies Institute alongside high school teachers from across the district and developed modules to teach at the lower levels at Blair’s middle school.

Since the summer, the cohort has attended more professional development training sessions alongside teachers who are implementing the Building Empathy project on their campuses. The ninth graders broke into three groups and observed three sixth, seventh and eighth classrooms where they will implement their peer lessons starting January 2024. Their goal is to train and inspire middle school students to conduct their own research and generate content to share with the larger public. Participating teachers and students studied the Japanese American experience during WWII and make connections with contemporary issues.

Blair High School’s ninth graders, along with their teacher Ms. Jesus Cobian, prepare modules to teach Blair middle schoolers; Photo by Sehba Sarwar

Building Empathy’s peer learning project is supported by California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities, through their Civics + Humanities Middle Grades Grants.

Page Header Photo: Blair High School’s ninth graders taking a break during PUSD’s Ethnic Studies Institute; Photo by Sehba Sarwar

What we hear!

“To be completely honest, I did not know a lot about the history of the Executive Order [9066], and how they lived during those times. But I think it was a really good experience to see first-hand from people that were there and from the relatives [of survivors], so they could explain to us about how hard it was for them to get through that time…”
—Diego, Blair International Baccalaureate School