Experiential Learning Takes Freshmen to Japantown

Experiential Learning Takes Freshmen to Japantown

In the first interdisciplinary, all-class field trip of the year, the Class of 2022 visited San Jose’s Japantown, bringing to life core ideas from Notre Dame’s Education for Justice & Leadership curriculum and the freshman summer reading book, Samurai’s Garden, by Gail Tsukiyama.

Students began their day on the light rail, which is easily accessible from campus, gleaning important insights and skills for navigating an urban environment. Dividing into groups, the students visited the Japanese American Museum, which features a replica of the barracks of Tule Lake, where the docent and her family lived for three years during the internment. “This field trip let me experience and learn more about the Japanese incarceration,” shared one student. “And it helped me understand what we need to do to prevent this in the future.” They also experienced a taiko drumming demonstration and practice, an origami lesson and a qi gong class.

The afternoon featured an author talk with Gail Tsuyikama, who has been a frequent speaker at Notre Dame. She has shared her story of writing Samurai’s Garden and her upbringing by a Chinese mother and Japanese father, offering insight into both cultures and also into her career as a successful author.

Interdisciplinary and experiential learning are important facets of a Notre Dame education, allowing students to learn by doing and immersing themselves in the topics and cultures they study in the classroom. Our location in the heart of downtown San Jose also allows for the development of important life skills such as navigating a big city, an environment that many of these students will encounter when they go off to college in a few short years!