Seattle's Chinatown/International District
YHP 2014 was held in the Chinatown/International District of downtown Seattle where we explored the history of Asian and Pacific Islander cultures in Washington State. The program also featured excursions to nearby Port Gamble and Bainbridge Island to visit additional sites related to the history of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in the Pacific Northwest. The program addressed several historic topics including immigration, working and making a life in a new country, maintaining cultural roots, incarceration during World War II, and the importance of preserving cultural and heritage resources that tell these stories.
Participants were engaged through a variety of activities designed to help them develop their own ideas for historic preservation strategies and promoting cultural awareness. Students were asked to consider the visibility or recognition of Asian/Pacific Islander cultures in the Northwest, comparing the vibrant C-ID with places where the cultures may not be quite as visually present.
Program sites included the former U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service Building located in the C-ID which, in addition to being the starting point for many immigrants who came to Seattle in the early 20th Century, now presents a compelling case study of adaptive use for the students to consider. The program also covered sites related to starting life as an Asian/American immigrant in the Northwest, such as Port Gamble, where Asian families worked in the lumber industry; sites on Bainbridge Island which were historically run as farms by Asian families; and the Panama Hotel, a building with an incredibly rich cultural history in the heart of the C-ID. The story of the Panama Hotel also tied in with the Nidoto Nai Yoni Japanese American Exclusion Memorial on Bainbridge Island as we asked students to consider the complex question of how we remember and preserve difficult pieces of the past. In addition to the Wing Luke Museum, one of our planning partners, participants visited other local history museums and were asked to analyze how well the Asian/Pacific Islander story is represented in those places. Throughout the program, students were encouraged to analyze the information they learned, guided by teachers and knowledgeable professionals in heritage-related fields, and determine what they thought were the best methods for preservation and remembrance.