Japanese American National Museum visit for the exhibit “What We Carried: Fragments & Memories from Iraq & Syria”

May 20, 2018

Several of our members met and toured the Japanese American National Museum. While waiting for all of our party to arrive, we visited the ongoing exhibit Common Ground: The Heart of Community which incorporates hundreds of objects, documents, and photographs chronicling 130 years of Japanese American history, beginning with the early days of the Issei pioneers through the World War II incarceration to the present. We were able to view many artifacts from the Los Angeles history that we spoke about at our meeting in February.

Once everyone arrived we entered the What We Carried: Fragments & Memories from Iraq & Syria” exhibit, watching the introductory film together.

Since 2003, approximately 140,000 Iraqi and Syrian refugees have immigrated to the United States, the majority with nothing more than the clothes on their backs and a small memento to remind them of home. This exhibition documents the life-changing journey of these refugees and sheds light on the trials and tribulations they experienced in their search for stability. Renowned freelance photographer and author Jim Lommasson invited Iraqi and Syrian refugees to share a personal item significant to their travels to America, such as a family snapshot, heirloom dish, or childhood toy. He photographed each artifact and then returned a 13″ x 19″ archival print to each participant so that they could write directly on the image to explain why they chose this item, above all others, to remind them of the lives they left behind.

Once we finished, we ate lunch in Little Tokyo while discussing our thoughts on the immigrant experience of our families and of the powerful imagery that we saw in the exhibit.