Inku
Japan Society of Fairfield County
Workshop for GJS Teachers at Bush-Holley House

On July 1, the Japan Society of Fairfield County and the Greenwich Historical Society organized a workshop for the teachers at Greenwich Japanese School. The purpose of the program was to educate the GJS school teachers about life in America so they could better cover this topic in their classes in the upcoming school year. There were nineteen teachers headed by principal Mr. Tomoyuki Mitsui. The workshop consisted of two parallel sessions.

Harry Sakamaki, president of JSFC and a docent of the Bush-Holley House, led one group on a tour this historic house. The Bush family lived in the house from the 1750’s to the 1840’s during the colonial and federal periods.  David Bush owned the grist mill and had a monopoly of the local grain trading business enabling him to become one of ten richest men in Greenwich. The teachers were shown the parlor where David Bush entertained business guests and friends serving tea and other delicacies.  Harry explained the operation of the tidal grist mill using illustrations he prepared.

Next the teachers visited the kitchen where David’s wife Sarah spent most of the day overseeing several women slaves who prepared meals for 17 family members including 15 children. Teachers saw the kitchenware used in the colonial period. Harry also discussed the chores boys and girls had to do then.

Sarah’s sick room was visited next. They learned how Sarah had managed the house and family during the difficult time of the American Revolutionary War after David’s death. They saw a stamp on the back of old wall paper which complied with the Stamp Act, one of the causes leading to the revolt against England.

The teachers were astonished when they entered into a dark room in the attic. It was the slave quarters. Harry explained the history of slavery and its operation in New England and Connecticut. Slavery ended in the North during the 1780’s long before the American Civil War. They also learned how slavery in the North differed from slavery in the Southern States.

Marybeth Nisco, GHS Assistant Director, and Tomoko Dougan, member of JSFC, led a hands on learning experience for the other group using colonial artifacts. Each teacher was assigned a tool or item.  They studied to it find who in the Bush family might have used it, what was it for, how it was used and who had made it. Some of the items studied were:  a pair of eye glasses, a candle mold, a sugar nipper, a quill pen, a sampler, a fire starter, and a carding comb.                           

After 45 minutes, the groups swapped between sessions. A final Q&A session for everyone completed the workshop. The teachers enjoyed the program and made good suggestions for future improvements.

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