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Our American Journey: Stories from King/Drew Magnet High School Students


In November 2012, the Smithsonian Institution invited the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) to participate in a project called, “Our American Journey.” JANM worked with ninth graders from Los Angeles’ King/Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science to investigate artifacts and family stories related to immigration and migration. Under the guidance of Ms. Agena, their amazing English teacher, they found some inspiration in the video shorts showcasing Japanese American National Museum volunteers sharing their own family stories. (Here is one of the videos that they saw. And you can see all of the volunteer shorts in this Discover Nikkei album .)

These students visited JANM to hone their object analysis skills within JANM’s Common Ground: The Heart of Community on-going exhibition. Everybody at JANM and the Smithsonian Institution really enjoyed working with these ninth graders; we learned so much from Ms. Agena and her students.

This album is just a sampling of the narratives that the students wrote. It hints at the diversity of Los Angeles, and the diversity of our nation. We hope that this album will inspire you to learn more about your own family’s stories of immigration and migration.


The students’ essays were created as part of a pilot project between King/Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science, the Japanese American National Museum, and the Smithsonian Institution’s Our American Journey Project. OAJ is a multi-year project that will examine international and internal migration centered on what we understand today to be the United States.

Photo by Gary Ono

Slides in this album 

Coming to the United States

By Carmen J.

The person I interviewed was my mom, Maria J.  She comes from San Nicolas, Miahuatlan, Oaxaca. Juliana and Baltazar brought her, Maria Maya into this word  on July 22nd, 1974.  As she grew up, she never thought of coming to the United States, but as time passes, ...

Carmen's Parents
Contributed by: kingdrewstories

The Blanket Journey

By Rosa U.

The family member i decided to interview was my sister Getsemany S.  She was born March 12,1994 in Durango,Mexico.  She came to Los Angeles when she was five years old.  She is now nineteen years old and is currently attending college.  She came to Los Angeles with ...

Getsemany's Blanket
Contributed by: kingdrewstories

Always Remembered

By Rikki T.

On May 5, 2006 my father was murdered in Kansas City Missouri.  He owned a lot of jewelry and personal  belongings.  One thing that he wore faithfully everyday was this ring.  The ring had over 50 diamonds in it.  Once my dad was put to rest my ...

Rikki's Earrings
Contributed by: kingdrewstories


By Brandon S.

Do you have a favorite sport team that you and your father watch together? The main idea of this is that people may leave but there belongings are all ways here and here to stay. I asked what holds special to them. She replied a Baltimore raven ...

The Baltimore Ravens' Jersey
Contributed by: kingdrewstories

Mothers Journey to America

By Kevin R.

Whenever we think about moving to another country we tend to think about not seeing our native home or if we will ever see our family who stayed there ever again.  My mother who emigrated from Mexico went through that emotional rollercoaster at the age of 18. ...

The Bible
Contributed by: kingdrewstories

Mrs. P's Precious Keepsakes

By Eryka S.

In 1930, my grandmother Willie Bell P. was born in Muldoon, Texas.  She was raised by her mother Artessa A. and father Crockett A.  As a child she went to school and completed elementary, middle and high school before getting married at the age of 21.  Shortly ...

Eryka's Grandmother
Contributed by: kingdrewstories

The Advances

By Stephanie S.

A few years ago my mom left her birth place so she can migrate to a better place where she can find a job to help out other people. Her name is Marina G. and she was born on December 27 in Puebla, México. She lived in ...

The Tortillero
Contributed by: kingdrewstories

Album Type

online exhibition

kingdrewstories — Last modified Sep 09 2014 4:50 p.m.

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