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Japanese-American, forging a path for justice, remembrance & reconciliation across three generations
It was in 2017 when I met Donna in the streets of New York City in 2017. She is third generation Japanese - American and her family’s survivor story was one of over 20 stories that became part of my long-form multimedia documentary project « Walls, Within and With(out) ». Seven stories including her family story were exhibited for the first time at the International Center of Photography's group exhibition at the Rita K. Hillman Gallery in summer 2018. « Walls, Within and With(out)» is the continuation of « Within My Walls and Beyond » travelling exhibition that addresses walls that persist in our communities today. It has been shown in Switzerland since 2014 and received support from the German Mission to the United Nation, the Caux-Initiatives of Change Foundation, the International School of Geneva, and various entrepreneurial organizations.
Donna's family came to the exhibit to experience the project’s installation that included parts of her father’s and grandmother’s survivor story in the Japanese-American internment camps in the United States and how this experience had impacted three generations in her family.
In his last days her father shared with me that his first choice (that would not be granted to him) was to be deployed to Germany when serving in the U.S. Army. « Eventually Germany came to you », I replied, and he laughed. Shortly after, I returned to Germany for a few weeks and sad news reached me about his passing.
Part of the multimedia project "Walls, Within and With(Out)"©2019 Undine Groeger
I‘ve been invited ever since to their family home in New Jersey. His survivor spirit lives on through his photographs, his children and his beautiful wife, who is also a camp survivor. I continue capturing their memories of hardship, but also incredible resilience, leadership, creativity, passion and love that has always been present and continues to be at the center of their family life.
Photo & Interview ©2019 Undine Groeger
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Keywords: Dialogue on the theme of walls, Reconciliation
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