The Okinawa Memories Initiative investigates the relationship between Japan, the United States and Okinawa. The Initiative connects undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, staff and the wider community in an inclusive conversation about Okinawa and the role of interdisciplinary studies to understand Okinawa’s importance in the modern world.
Every year, a cohort of students in America and Okinawa connect to discuss and learn Okinawan history, culture and contemporary issues. These students are connected together by a two year program.
The program starts with an Okinawan studies class, funded by the Innovative Learning Technology Initiative through the University of California Office of the President, “History and Memory on the Okinawan Islands” which is the qualifying class to apply to be an OMI Scholar. Once accepted into the program, the students are trained on project teams and roles, and are assigned a peer mentor, and a working group among the team’s eight groups. They will engage in community service, language training, and team building, whilst 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 research 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.