Students in Bates Technical College’s Digital Media program create and produce a documentary about the 1942 Tacoma Japanese internment

Bates Technical College press release.

Tacoma, Wash. — Brian Parker, an instructor in Bates Technical College’s Digital Media Program, knows the value of hands-on learning, so when the Chinese Reconciliation Project Foundation approached the program to create a historical documentary, he seized the opportunity .

Parker said, “Providing our students with opportunities like this is invaluable. A day in the real world is a week in the classroom.

Since January 2022, instructors Parker and Kevin Gibson have led a group of seven students through the vast enterprise of developing the process, editing, directing and producing the 25-minute film.

The documentary focuses on Executive Order 9066, which resulted in the resettlement of Japanese people to internment camps. Residents of Tacoma and the Fife area were among the first in the country to be driven from their homes.

Under the direction of Parker and Gibson, the students have made a moving and moving film that follows third-generation Japanese Sansei writer Merilee Tanbara as she writes a novel of historical fiction while researching the experiences of her grandparents and of his parents. The novel’s subject matter concerns the Japanese community of Tacoma before and after World War II, and follows the lives of those who returned from concentration camps, rebuilt their lives, and raised their children.

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Bates Technical College President Lin Zhou said, “I am proud of our students and faculty for creating and producing this documentary about a difficult time in Tacoma’s history. We learn a lot from our past and its impact on us today. This was a meaningful project that our students could participate in, and I am honored that we were able to collaborate with the Chinese Reconciliation Project Foundation in this important effort.

The documentary will premiere Monday, August 8 at 7 p.m. at the Grand Cinema, 606 Fawcett Avenue in Tacoma. Attendees are invited to participate in a discussion about the film, the history of the Japanese in Tacoma, and the creative process of Tanbara. To buy tickets, go to the Grand Cinéma. The event is free for students who live in Tacoma thanks to funding from Tacoma Creates.

To learn more about Bates’ Digital Media program, visit

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