A Taste of the Tule Lake Pilgrimage

Jan’s fundraiser1 today was fabulous! It was a taste of the Tule Lake Pilgrimage.2

People got to participate in a mini-intergenerational discussion group. Four elders, including my mother, told some of their stories of being interned in Tule Lake and really felt heard. (My mother was impressed with how present people were. She said she could see in their faces that they were really listening.) They appreciated how Jan’s open-ended questions gave them the room to talk about what was up for them.3 Some revealed how they continue to learn from their reflections as they peel back the layers of avoidance, pretense, and distress that sit on top of their memories of that time. I watched them marvel at their own growing understanding of what really happened.

For years my mother has talked about how it wasn’t too bad being in the camp as a teen. This time she told a story I had never heard before about the moment when she suddenly realized she was actually in a prison camp—a sobering experience for her. Others got to talk about how hard things had really been in Tule Lake and how they had learned to manage those challenges. By the end of the event, I could tell4 that they all felt much more connected with each other, Jan, and the rest of us.

The Olympia Co-Counselors were so thoughtfully attentive, welcoming, and caring. And I was glad that they got this taste of Tule Lake, since they have been so supportive of Jan and the others on the Tule Lake team. That the event was co-sponsored by the Olympia Japanese American Citizens League and the Olympia RC Community, and hosted in the Jewish Temple with one of the rabbis present, made it especially meaningful to many of us. I think we all felt proud and fortunate to be there. Great job, Jan!

Betsy Hasegawa
Bellingham, Washington, USA

1 See previous article.
2 A biannual pilgrimage to Tule Lake Segregation Center, one of the concentration camps in which the U.S. government interned Japanese Americans during World War II. United to End Racism (a project of the RC Community) has been sending a team of Co-Counselors to each of the pilgrimages since 2009.
3 “What was up for them” means what was coming up in their minds.
4 “Tell” means perceive, see.

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00