Vicky Murakami-Tsuda

What is a best practice in promoting student (or general public) learning?

A personal connection or relevance, I've found is a very strong way of getting people to explore topics and stories. It's not something that necessarily has to be obvious or direct.

At our museum, people/students on tours get so much more out of the experience when they hear about personal stories relating to the content that they are viewing. It makes a very real impact just knowing that the person sharing the story was in a WWII camp themselves. But, some of our best docents are also people who are not even Japanese American. But, in some ways, that makes it easier, because it shows that there is relevance in the story for people who didn't go through the experience.

I've also worked with students at Occidental College on projects to document the stories of long-time Little Tokyo businesses. Through the project, they are assigned to work in pairs (which is something that they are not used to doing). Through interviewing the business owners, they learn not only about the business itself, on a somewhat superficial level. They also learn about these people as individuals, and as members of the community. Through the project, they gain new understanding about local, ethnic communities. It also changes their view of their consumer choices.

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