Student participation is central to the Okinawa Memories Initiative’s work, and we create opportunities for meaningful, experiential learning for both graduate and undergraduate students. By learning in the field, students participate in global historical understanding in ways they could never achieve in the classroom. Students also develop essential personal and professional skills—cross-cultural exchange, in-depth research, emotional intelligence, project development and execution, multimedia expertise, and digital literacies—that will serve them well beyond their time on our campus.
Every year, a cohort of students in America and Okinawa connect to discuss and learn Okinawan history, culture and contemporary issues. This cohort remains intact over two years.
The program starts with an Okinawan studies class, “History and Memory on the Okinawan Islands”. Funded by the Innovative Learning Technology Initiative through the University of California Office of the President, this is the qualifying class required for students to become an OMI Scholar. Once accepted into the program, the students are trained, assigned a peer mentor, and participate in one of our 8 working groups. Students will engage in community service, language training, and team building, while preparing for a trip to Okinawa in the summer, fully funded by the project.
After a year of training, and after doing research on-island, students will then have a chance to further develop their work into a research paper or exhibit, which will be supported by program staff and faculty. If they would prefer to develop their leadership skills instead, they will become team leaders of working groups, and peer mentor the next cohort of OMI Scholars, while also preparing for a summer trip to a country with a significant Okinawan diaspora.