The Okinawa Memories Initiative

75% of $12,000 goal
This campaign ended on May 19, 2022, but you can still make a gift to California State University-Monterey Bay by clicking here!
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The Okinawa Memories Initiative (OMI) is a public history and transnational dialogue organization focusing on Okinawa, Japan and the ways its people, culture, and crises help us understand the world today. OMI launched in 2013 at UCSC as an experiential learning project for undergraduate students through the gift of a set of photographs taken by an American serviceman in Okinawa in 1953. Today, OMI is a collaboration between CSU Monterey Bay, CSU East Bay, and UCSC. Students are mentored by faculty, oral historians, collections professionals and artists, with opportunities to conduct field research and interviews in Okinawa and with diasporic organizations in the United States and abroad.

OMI members at the Okinawa Peace Park on Irei no Hi (Memorial Day), June 23, 2019.

100% of your support goes to student travel costs. We hope to be able to fully fund at least three students to spend one month conducting research in Okinawa in 2022-2023 (final timeline to be determined based on Japan’s soon-to-be updated entry regulations). 

OMI team members met Okinawan governor Denny Tamaki in 2019 to discuss the project and U.S.-Okinawa relations.
OMI members met with former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to learn his thoughts on the large U.S. military presence in Okinawa.

CSUMB student explains why she wants to explore Okinawa

"Going to Okinawa represents an opportunity to let Okinawa speak for itself, to allow it the agency over itself that it was denied in the war. I’ve heard enough about what historians think Okinawa and its people feel; I want to go there and see how the people live today. Who is Okinawa? I want to know about the Okinawa that existed before the wars, and the Okinawa that is moving into the future. I feel that there is more to this island than tragedy, and I would like to see it."

- Sara Rose Vernetti, Class of 2024

568 days ago by Dorris Gutual
Student speaks about her OMI experience

"Working with OMI thus far has been wonderful for both my personal and professional growth. As a member of the archive team, I've been given the opportunity to work closely with real historical documents alongside others who share the same excitement for learning about Okinawan history as myself! As I continue to read about the various experiences had by so many others connected to the island, the chance to contextualize this research in Okinawa itself would mean so much to me. Thank you for supporting the CSUMB OMI team!"

- Charlene Roberts, Class of 2024

571 days ago by Dorris Gutual
Short film by OMI CSUMB Student, Kai Jones

OMI students bring a range of career aspirations and research interests to our work in Okinawa. In 2019, OMI CSUMB student Kai Jones brought his interest in art and filmmaking to document our research and exhibitions. Check out one of his projects, a beautiful two-minute film, “Lenses.” Click here to watch Short Film LENSES- Kieran Jones

587 days ago by Dorris Gutual
Commemorating Social Protest in Okinawa

Photo credit: Kazuo Kuniyoshi, published in his 2012 book Stand!

Our OMI team was busy even when the pandemic limited our travel. In December 2020, our team organized an event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Koza Uprising, a massive demonstration of frustration against the continued military occupation. Our well-attended online event featured speakers including veteran Stan Rushworth, Okinawan photographer Kazuo Kuniyoshi, and Japanese broadcaster Tomoko Kubota.

Watch the recording (in Japanese or English) here!

595 days ago by Dorris Gutual
Did you know?

May 2022 marks the 50th Anniversary of Okinawa’s “reversion” to Japan, ending the U.S. military’s formal rule of the islands.

596 days ago by Dorris Gutual
Okinawa Memories Initiative

To learn more about the Okinawa Memories Initiative, check out our website!

599 days ago by Dorris Gutual

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