My undergraduate education is what really ignited my desires to learn more about Japanese culture and history and to find pride in my identity. Despite feeling disconnected to my heritage in high school, I have since been committed to taking Japanese language courses and contributing to Nikkei Student Union (a Japanese culture club), and my dream for my future career is now to help strengthen U.S.-Japan relations. With that being said, I sought out this internship at GVJCI to help me reach my career plans.
My internship offered me more than I could have imagined. My main duties as a Program Development Intern included planning programs to help engage the South Bay Japanese American community, assisting in GVJCI’s Annual Matsuri Fundraiser, and drafting lesson plans and activities for the TANOSHII Fun Camp.
Through planning programs, I learned how to think creatively and to adapt plans. My first program I developed and led was the ‘Smartphone Photography Club’ that was part of the Tomodachi Program Series; this club provided a space for older adults in the community to learn more about smartphone photo, editing, and sending features, discuss any difficulties and questions they had, and share what they learned. This program was a great success and was the first time I felt very proud of my contributions to GVJCI and the South Bay Japanese American community in general.
My experience helping at GVJCI’s Annual Matsuri Fundraiser was extremely fulfilling. Starting with my article about this event, I learned a lot about the history of matsuri at GVJCI, the history of matsuri in general, and what this event means to people in the community. At the event, I worked with the other interns for the first time and learned how to fill in wherever I was needed. I was also able to see how thankful people were for how this event brings the community together.