How did you earn The Congressional Award?
VPS: For Voluntary Public Service, I connected with local Japanese communities. I drew coloring pages and cards for my neighborhood and the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL). I also spent time volunteering at a Japanese cultural camp during the summer. Because of my interest in art and activism, I coded a website to promote action around climate change. I sewed masks around the time that the pandemic first began and donated them to a local hospital.
PD: The Personal Development category allowed me to focus on my creative hobbies. I improved my cooking skills by testing out different recipes, including traditional Japanese recipes that my grandparents shared with me. I also honed my art skills, which was an exercise in self-reflection and creative problem-solving. These activities allowed me to challenge myself by experimenting with recipes, creativity, and risk-taking.
PF: Although the Physical Fitness category was the most difficult for me to keep up with, it was a great learning experience. The activities I counted were dance and running, and both inspired me to take care of myself and lead a healthier lifestyle.
EXP: For my expedition, I was not able to travel anywhere due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, I was still able to participate in a virtual expedition to Japan, which tested my perseverance and planning skills. I was able to learn about Japan’s history and its famous landmarks all through my computer, which helped me feel more connected with my heritage.
What are your current ambitions?
I am currently in the journalism program at Carlmont High School. It has encouraged me to find passion in writing and sharing stories with a wide audience of people. There are many categories in this class that you can participate in, and this semester I chose Podcasting, where I have been able to talk to many different people about everything from mental health to self-expression. I hope to continue exploring different types of storytelling and amplifying diverse voices. I am excited to connect this interest with giving back to the Congressional Award community!
Where do you find your motivation?
As I was growing up, my grandmother would tell my sisters and me about how she and her family grew up in the Japanese Internment camps during World War II. One day, I went to a flag signing ceremony where many of the survivors from the camps autographed large American flags. Nearly 1,000 signatures had been collected, and seeing that moment come together, where past history was linked to the present, I realized the importance of sharing experiences. I find my motivation through the art of storytelling. I love having access to platforms, such as journalism, where I have learned the skills to raise awareness and help others find their voices. I think it is important to give everyone the chance to have their opinions heard so it motivates me to be an advocate wherever I can.