Describe the world you come from - for example, your family, community or school - and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.
Growing up with a Japanese-American mother and family, I've learned to embrace my heritage in a considerable amount of ways. Starting from when I was 5 years-old, I've been studying Japanese as a second language. For the past 12 years, I've continued attending Japanese school every Saturday morning, rather than sleeping in or watching cartoons. In addition, I enrolled in Japanese 101 at Citrus College this semester to re-enforce the basics of language and strengthen my foundation. I've taken advantage of practicing my Japanese with the students in that class who are from Japan and have improved in the few months I've been attending.
Throughout my life, I've also been extremely involved in the East San Gabriel Valley Japanese Community Center located in West Covina - the same place I've attended Japanese school for 12 years. For the past two years, I've gotten involved with their Exchange Program, hosting students from Ohtawara, Japan for one week during the summer. This experience made me even more interested in my Japanese heritage, re-enforcing the importance of culture to me. Hosting these students and attending the various events also gave me the change to speak and improve in Japanese, as well has help teach English and American culture.
My Girl Scout Gold Award project and my current senior project both center around my heritage. My Girl Scout Gold Award benefited the East San Gabriel Japanese Community Center, adorning their gymnasium with a 12' x 9' mural which represents the variety of Japanese culture and sub-organizations there. Over the summer, I also helped with their 2nd mural, which idea came from the summer interns. I helped them design and paint the artwork. My senior project topic is on Japanese language and culture, leading with the question of "What is most important in understanding Japanese culture?" Throughout the year, I will research and decide on three answers to this question, as well as prepare a 2-hour presentation for my final project grade.
In the future, I plan to keep a very strong connection with my Japanese heritage. I wish to study abroad in Japan, as well as use my knowledge and connection in my working life. As an aspiring designer, I want to find ways to integrate ideas of Japanese art and design with modern and popular art and design. I hope to bring awareness and enthusiasm of Japanese culture to the public in both subtle and lucid ways.
Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud and how does it relate to the person you are?
Throughout my life, I've been surrounded by a large amount of talented people, whether it be my family, friends, peers, or mentors. I, however, never pegged myself for a talent in anything special because I wasn't the best at anything. For a while, I beat myself over this, wondering why I couldn't do something as well as her, or him. I tried a plethora of things, and I was good at them, but to me that wasn't good enough. I played basketball from age 7-9. I aspired to be like my cousins, who were all on their high school basketball team while I was sitting on the bench of my elementary Asian league team. I've played piano since age 4, but only performed in my school talent show, not concerts and recitals like my friends and family. My hobby has always been art, but my drawings never looked like what I wanted them to or like the girl's next to me. I was discouraged, and for a while, rather depressed about it.
However, after a little while, I took a step back and realized that I didn't have to be the best to be talented. What matters is that I can do a mixture of things, and enjoy them. I'm comfortable in multiple situations, despite not necessarily standing out in any single activity. Sure, it might make deciding on a major or career path a little bit more challenging, but I don't need to beat myself up over it anymore. In fact, I have since found one thing that I do excel in: making people smile.
Since I was young, one of my favorite things to do was to make people smile. I would walk up to complete strangers as a young child and tell them they were pretty, or skilled singers, or good artists, etc. In high school, I made it a point to make at least one person sincerely smile everyday. So far, I've succeeded, even as a high school senior. I plan to keep this going. Sophomore year, I titled this my "smile campaign" and have gotten a few of my friends involved in it too. It's nothing organized, just something I keep in my head.
Making people smile is probably the one, most important thing I pride myself in because I know that if I can make one person's day, then it'll make my own day and life better as well. While smiling may not be a profession, exactly, it is something that I think makes a person a good student, employee, and citizen in this world.