Sterling High School, Somerdale, NJ
2015 Asia Study Tour Participant
In the summer of 2015, I was privileged to participate in one of the greatest educational experiences in which I ever participated. I was chosen by NJ-ALPHA to go on a Peace and Reconciliation Study Tour in China, visiting Shanghai, Nanking, Harbin and Beijing. I prepared by of reading several books on Comfort Women and other atrocities committed on the Chinese during the invasion by the Japanese Army.
I am a Latin teacher by profession and base my teaching philosophy on making historical “connections” with other cultures and time periods. I spend much of my free time studying the causes and effects of World War Two in Europe and the Pacific. Until this study tour, I had no idea that the same atrocities that were perpetrated by the Nazis in Europe were also done to the Chinese people by Japan.
Our first stop in China was Shanghai, where we listened to and took notes of lectures from knowledgeable scholars in universities, survivors and eyewitnesses. We were honored and privileged to be the first visitors to the new relocated Comfort Women Research Institute at its new location at Shanghai Normal University. One of the most powerful sessions was meeting and listening to the story of Grandma Ha Sang Sook, a “comfort woman” survivor, whose advice was to “love your country and be patriotic.”
This Study Tour was so well-planned and extensive. After Shanghai, where we also visited the Jewish Refugee Museum, the site of a “comfort station,” and the Hang Warehouse Museum, we moved onto Nanking, then Harbin, and finally to Beijing.
The amount of knowledge and the personal experiences provided by this Study Tour were immense. I came back to America with a commitment to educate others, especially teachers and students, about this little-known, seldom taught but extremely important, part of World War II in the Pacific and the atrocities perpetrated on the Chinese people for which the Japanese are reluctant to apologize and offer compensation to the victims.
This is a trip I will never forget and I thank NJ-Alpha for the opportunity.