On Wednesday, February 22, 2017, School of the Holy Child, Rye, NY, invited Sam Mihara, a national speaker on mass imprisonment and a lecturer at UCLA, UC Berkeley, and Harvard University, to participate in the school's IDEA initiative. The IDEA Committee at Holy Child promotes inclusion, diversity, equity, advocacy and social justice through ongoing community conversations and interactive workshops.
Monique Gordon-Anefal, director of the IDEA Committee, explained that Mr. Mihara was invited to share his experiences with the community in keeping with this year's IDEA theme: "Love thy neighbor, welcome the stranger."
Mr. Mihara began his presentation with a quote by former President George W. Bush: "A great nation does not hide its history." During his illuminating remarks, Mr. Mihara talked about his time as a prisoner at the Heart Mountain Japanese Prison Camp, in Powell, Wyoming during World War II. Mr. Mihara was forced into the prison camp along with his family when he was nine years old. He offered harrowing details about his time in the camp, and connected his experience to contemporary debates about civil rights in the United States. In all, he explained, about 120,000 men, women, and children of Japanese ancestry were imprisoned, half of whom were American citizens. He stressed the importance of studying American history so as not to repeat our mistake. Mr. Mihara concluded with the sentiment: "Never Forget, Never Again."
Mrs. Gordon-Anefal shared the reflections of Holy Child's Christian Theology and World Religions class. The students found Mr. Mihara's presentation "inspirational and informative" and while they were surprised and saddened by his story, they were optimistic that the United States can "grow and learn from our past mistakes." The IDEA Committee continues to create opportunities for our students' broader understanding of diversity, inclusion, equity, and advocacy in relation to our Catholic social teachings.