Global Education Discusses the Impact of WWII on Japanese Americans

Sam Mihara

This month, the SMS Global Education Program had the honor of virtually hosting guest speaker Sam Mihara. In 1942, when Sam was nine years old, the United States government forcibly sent Sam, his family, and people of Japanese ancestry living in the American West to internment camps. Sam and his family were sent to a prison camp called Heart Mountain in northern Wyoming, where he stayed for three years. 

Sam shared his story with 7th-grade students who recently completed a lesson on World War II. The students studied the impact of the war abroad and within the United States. Upper School Honors Global Issues I & II students who have been studying the impact of governmental policy on groups and individuals also viewed the discussion with Sam.

Sam frequently guest lectures about his experiences during internment. In 2018, Sam was awarded the national Paul A. Gagnon Prize as the history teacher of the year. He was the first Japanese American to receive the award. He lectures at UCLA, Harvard, and Columbia.

It was an honor to host Sam and hear his story. Describing Sam’s talk, one 7th grader wrote: Mr. Mihara was one of the best storytellers, and I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. I learned so much about the hardships Japanese Americans faced during this time and the injustice of the camps. Understanding where we’ve come from can help us not make the same mistakes in the future and change things for the better. Mr. Mihara's story is heroic and courageous, and I can’t thank him enough for sharing it with us.”

John Nichols
Director of Global Education


  • Upper School

Additional Images

Indoor room with private school in Memphis, TN students sitting at desks looking at a presentation
Group of female students sitting at a round desk inside of a Christian school in Memphis, TN