The JACL-DC chapter is happy to present the fourth post in our new blog series, Meet Our Board. As a way to introduce you to our 2017 board members, this series will feature posts from members throughout the year. Past posts include one by our youngest board member, Christie Mori, as well as by at-large members, Craig Shimizu and John Tobe. Be sure to keep checking back for future posts from these individuals who are here to serve the DC chapter.
I retired several years ago after a long and satisfying career in education as teacher and administrator, which included elementary school principal, director of a high school in a psychiatric hospital, and director of elementary instruction in Montgomery County Public Schools. I have returned to my school district, however, for part-time work. I enjoy spending more time organizing family gatherings and maintaining traditions as matriarch of our immediate crew of my husband, two daughters, two sons-in-law, and three grandchildren, ages 5, 8, and 11. I have also had time to return to my own roots in the Japanese American community by leading the DC Chapter of the JACL and co-chairing the JACL Legacy Fund Grants Committee.
My story as a Japanese American starts with growing up in South Bend, Indiana, after my parents left Tule Lake and eventually settled in the Midwest. There were virtually no Japanese children in my hometown except my cousin, whose family lived with us for 12 years after they left camp. I remember being teased about the way I looked and being the token Japanese in an all-white Sunday school class. Nevertheless, my cousin and I wanted to blend in with the majority, and we excelled in school.
In JACL I have had the opportunity to focus on my Japanese heritage, making meaningful friendships and participating in valuable cultural, historical, and civil rights events. Being named to the DC Chapter board heightened my participation in the organization and led to other leadership positions. Mochitsuki, Keiro Kai, June Picnic, and Memorial Day, to name a few annual events, have become given parts of my year. JACL has helped me come full circle in understanding and appreciating my Japanese legacy. I hope many others will be active in our DC Chapter as they deepen their own story.