Ms. Gruwell takes her class on a field trip to see a movie, Higher Learning, about discrimination and prejudice. After the movie, they are able to talk to panelists who have become successful after overcoming many obstacles. This student recalls her favorite panelist, a Japanese man whose family immigrated to the United States but who, after Pearl Harbor, was sent to a Japanese internment camp.
Ms. Gruwell organizes an activity in which students can learn important principles and historical facts through direct contact with people. One of her strategies is for interpersonal communication to be the motor of learning, as her students learn and are inspired by other people’s experiences, which can remain vivid in their mind.
Similar to this panelist, this student was forced to live in an internment camp during the war in Cambodia. The living conditions were harrowing, as they had to endure health problems and often lacked sufficient food. The camp also destroyed her family, as it ended up turning her father into an abusive, uncaring man who has lost his dignity and self-worth. Like the Japanese panelist who, at ten years old, was considered an enemy, this student concludes that war destroys people’s mental and physical well-being, simply because of prejudice.
This student explains that mistreatment can lead to lifelong trauma and turn victims such as her father into aggressors. Wars waged over issues of nationality or ethnicity have no other result, it seems, than to harm innocent people. It is this student’s confrontation with a story similar to her own that leads her to recount hers, allowing her to fully understand and cope with the injustice she has suffered.