ABOUT THE PROJECT
A large box of photographs of the Fresno Japanese-American community from the 1920’s - 1940’s was donated to Chinatown Revitalization Inc. Most of the photographs do not have any details such as names or dates to identify who was in the pictures. Some have a label indicating that they were shot or developed at Frank Kamiyama’s studio on 1413 Tulare Street in Fresno, CA. Many people in the photographs lived throughout the Central Valley. These are historic photographs depicting weddings, military ceremonies, graduations, theater productions, and the everyday lives of Japanese-Americans during that period.
In the Fall of 2016, Dr. Clarke assigned a class of undergraduate students in the social work program at Fresno State a community project with the goal of organizing an event for the general public to view the photographs in an effort to help identify the people in them. It was held at the Fresno Buddhist Temple - Family Dharma Center on November 6, 2016. The event was met with a positive response from the Japanese-American community which allowed these students to put a name to the number of photographs that have been identified so far. Students were able to not only transcribe notes from the attendants who recognized some of the individuals in the photographs, but they were also able to connect with the stories that were being told about the photographs and learn more about the Japanese-American culture.
We need your help to discover who these people were and to unfold the stories behind these photographs. We invite you to attend our community events and to view the photographs in our online gallery. Please leave a message with your contact information if you may know the people who are featured in the photographs.
MEET THE STUDENTS BEHIND
Sierra Wigington is a senior at California State University Fresno. She is originally from Turlock, CA where she earned an Associate’s Degree in Social & Behavioral Sciences from Modesto Junior College. She was first motivated to enter the social work field after becoming a volunteer with Haven Women’s Center of Stanislaus in 2013. That same year, Sierra moved to Fresno to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and she will be graduating in Spring 2017. As a social worker, Sierra hopes to work with the special needs of older adults and the people who take care of them.
“Being a part of the Japanese-American Photo Project has shown me that there can be worthwhile opportunities for learning in the most unexpected places. On paper, this read as a class assignment for one semester. But putting the event objectives into action (scanning the photos, setting up the location, speaking to members of the community) and researching more about the history of Japanese-Americans in the Central Valley, I realized how invested I could be in such a big project. Before, as a social worker, I imagined myself practicing on a micro-level, one-on-one with clients. Now, I can see myself getting into the macro-level mindset and I want to help the community in any way that I can.”
Rosa Eufracio is currently a senior at California State University Fresno. In Spring 2017, she will receive her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. Rosa aspires to pursue a Master’s in Social Work in the near future and to work alongside diverse populations.
“I am very thankful to be working on the Japanese-American project, along with fellow classmates. It has been such a great learning opportunity that will give me some understanding in diversity and cultural humility, which are very important and valuable in the social work field. As students, we are always encouraged to learn about other cultural groups, and this project is allowing me the opportunity to learn about the Japanese-American community and their stories. I truly enjoy working in the community and interacting with others.”
Yanira Eufracio was born and raised in the Central Valley. Currently, she is a senior at California State University, Fresno pursuing an education in Social Work and will be graduating in Spring 2017. Yanira will be receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in this field and she hopes to work with children and families in the future. During her education at Fresno State, Yanira has become very passionate about community involvement and enjoys working with diverse groups of people. She keeps an open mind and appreciates learning new things each day.
“The Japanese-American Photo Project means a lot to me because it has allowed me to be not only involved in the community, but it has also allowed me to promote the importance of diversity. It has also given me the hands on experience which allows me to learn skills necessary to engage with others. Through this project, I have become more culturally aware and have gained more knowledge about the Japanese-American culture. As a future social worker, I understand that it is important to value diversity, promote acceptance, and have the skills necessary to effectively work with different individuals and communities.”