The Japanese language program at Lindbergh High School in Renton was saved from the chopping block, as we reported last week.
On this Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, it feels appropriate to call attention to the threat that would have eliminated this very popular program. It’s a threat—though it no longer remains for this program—that is part of a long decimation of Japanese language programs in Washington and would have robbed later generations of Japanese Americans from exploring their heritage.
Aleyna Yamaguchi, who was a former student of said Japanese language program, wrote in a petition that by cutting the program, it would mean “we are failing to prepare students for today’s ever evolving globalized economy.”
To also do this during a time when our political and racial landscape is so divided, the right thing to do is to continue to educate and expose our students to other cultures, not remove this opportunity from them, Yamaguchi wrote.
The class is taught by Hiromi Weir, whom students fondly called “Hiromi Sensei,” and she postponed her retirement to save the program.
It’s important to acknowledge Yamaguchi for starting this petition and bringing attention to the matter. She also persuaded her former teacher to go on the record and reach out to organizations that regularly provided support to the school districts for Japanese language classes, such as the Japan-America Society of the State of Washington, the Japanese Consulate, and the Washington Association of Teachers of Japanese.
Additionally, Yamaguchi reached out to the us, the media.
As Asians, we are taught not to raise a fuss or rock the boat. And this is behavior that could be detrimental. It is imperative to speak up when you witness something you know in your gut is wrong or harmful. Speak up, even when it’s hard, to fight for what you believe is right.
There are consequences to not voicing your concerns or opinion.
Would this program have survived without a petition or media attention? We’ll never know. But it’s not unfathomable that it would have been quietly eliminated if there hadn’t been such a public outcry.
This AAPI Heritage Month, remember that your voice matters. Speak up. You are not alone.
The community will stand behind you. We, at the Asian Weekly, will amplify your voice. Be proud of who you are and what you stand for.