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CCPL Kawachinagano exhibit honors Japanese culture, sparks discussions about importance of diversity and cultural education

Ryan Zhang
Carmel Clay Public Library (CCPL) hosts an exhibit featuring Carmel’s sister city Kawachinagano throughout the month of November. Dawn Boarman, coordinator for the exhibit and youth services librarian, said the exhibit aims to promote cultural diversity and education.

The Carmel Clay Public Library (CCPL) will host an exhibit in the kids’ area until Nov. 30. This exhibit is in partnership with Kawachinagano, Japan, one of Carmel’s sister cities. The exhibit displays a variety of different Japanese cultural items commonly found in Kawachinagano. According to Dawn Boarman, coordinator for the exhibit and youth services librarian, the exhibit aims to promote cultural diversity and education. 

“We want to have more representation of the various cultures in the community,” Boarman said. “I think it’s really important that community members can see their own cultures represented, and that’s why we worked with the community members who are experts on this. One thing (the exhibit helps do) is just sharing information and (helping) people learn about different cultures.”

In addition, Boarman said the exhibit has had a positive community response, especially within the accompanying activities also hosted at the library. 

“Another thing we did in conjunction with this display was to have an art exchange between students in Kawachinagano and students here in Carmel. We’re about to send the artwork (to Kawachinagano),” Boarman said. “We also had a bilingual storytime that was in English and Japanese and so we gave the art exchange information out to those children that attended.”

Deesha Roopesh

For sophomore Taylor Zhang, the exhibit reminds her of elements of culture she has personally interacted with. 

“I lived in Japan for a total of 11 years; six in Okinawa and five in Tokyo. I’ve been to almost every major prefecture in Japan. I also celebrate some Japanese cultures even though I’m not Japanese,” Zhang said. “(The exhibit) helps bring Japanese-inspired elements to life.”

Junior Ryune Kono said he agreed with Zhang. He said the exhibit helped expose people to Japanese culture who could have been unfamiliar with it beforehand. 

“These exhibits make it so that people can be more exposed to Japanese culture and also for any exhibit for any other cultural group,” Kono said. “Just by having people exposed to it, just by letting the word out on what other people do, on their holidays, just any culturally significant days, it makes it so that we see the humanity within other people that may look different from us, and I think that’s pretty cool.”

Boarman said learning about other cultures can be extremely beneficial. 

“For one thing, it’s just interesting to know what’s going on in the world and also what’s (going on) in your own community,” Boarman said. “I also think it gives various community members a chance to see their own culture represented but it also gives everybody a chance to share their culture with each other.” 

Zhang said that it is important to recognize the diverse members of our communities. 

“(Learning about other people’s cultures) helps people acknowledge the differences in other people’s customs and traditions and create a connection for cultural awareness,” Zhang said. 

Kono said diversity is critical in a welcoming and accepting community. 

“Learning about other cultures is important because we can see the humanity in people that might not look similar or might not think similarly to us,” Kono said. “Adding that diversity is definitely important in creating or cultivating a community that is more welcoming as well as more accepting (of) different types of people.”

Boarman said the CCPL’s Kawachinagano-related activities have helped many people explore different cultures. 

“The bilingual storytime was really exciting (because) some kids already knew some Japanese so they were able to have a chance to show that, which they might not get to all the time in other settings,” Boarman said. “Some kids did not know any Japanese and they learned some.” 

The exhibit features different Japanese cultural artifacts, including a yukata and jinbei. Sophomore Taylor Zhang said the exhibit reminds her of elements of culture she has personally interacted with. (Ryan Zhang)

However, Zhang said there could still be more efforts to educate others on different cultures at this school and in Carmel. 

“(At this school), there is an increase of a variety of different ethnic backgrounds of people and showcasing the different cultures can create a more inclusive and diverse community,” Zhang said. 

Kono said Carmel has done a pretty good job in terms of showcasing diversity and culture around the city.

“I think there’s already pretty good efforts made to showcase culture (in Carmel),” Kono said. “There’s a lot of ethnic groups and religious and cultural groups that have already done things (to show culture).”

Kono said this school has also made efforts to incorporate diversity and other cultures into its curriculum and student life. 

“The fact that we have a Japanese program is really it (for Japanese representation at Carmel),” Kono said. “We don’t really have any festivals or anything, but there is A5 and the Japanese language program.”

Boarman said the CCPL has a multitude of opportunities for people to educate themselves about various cultures. 

“We will continue to do exhibits, we’ve done them with (our other sister cities) before. We have various storytimes that have cultural content to it, we just had a Diwali program very recently,” Boarman said. “There are also bilingual story walks, books that are in our world language collection—both in our adult services and children’s services. Those are just some of the things.”

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