Lowell High School, San Francisco
In 2014, Riki Eijima had the opportunity to participate in an archeological internship at the University of Denver’s Amache Field School in southeastern Colorado. This experience enabled her to closely study the place where her grandfather had been incarcerated as a young boy, part of the Japanese-American internment during World War II. Seeing the internment camp firsthand has inspired Riki to raise awareness of this chapter of American history among a new generation, and to become an agent of change to counter expressions of hatred directed at other groups today, including Muslim, South Asian, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern and Arab communities.
In addition to making presentations and writing articles sharing scholarly research, Riki is trying to bring Amache Preservation Society volunteers to meet former Amache internees in California as a way of bringing history to life. She is also working on “homestays” for student volunteers in Merced County, where many Central Valley Japanese-Americans made their home before their incarceration. She has served as a goodwill ambassador to Japan, part of an effort to foster positive relations between Japan and the United States. And, closer to home, Riki is working to preserve the Nihonmachi, or Japantown, communities that her ancestors fought so hard to establish.