Hello, DC Chapter! Thank you for checking in on the website!
My name is Gabi Ogata, and I am honored to be the new youth co-chair this year. Like my good friend Christie, I am Brazilian-Japanese-American, and while I haven’t been a member for as long as her, I have been volunteering for JACL for the past two years.
I was born in D.C., but being raised in Brazil by a Japanese family didn’t make moving here comfortable. I didn’t consider myself American and felt closer to my Japanese heritage than anything else. After a couple of years at Keisho and meeting Christie, I was introduced to JACL and the DC Chapter’s annual cultural events. At first, I felt disconnected and out of place—I could only relate to the Japanese side of the community. I had learned of, but not experienced or had family members who had experienced, the past difficulties Japanese Americans in the U.S. faced, and I thought I couldn’t truly be a part of this group.
However, over the years, I have come to terms with my background and my identity, and this group has been a big part of that. JACL and members of the DC Chapter have accepted me with open arms and have wordlessly taught me about unity, open mindedness, respect, community, and, as cliche as it sounds, love.
I can only hope to be able to give back to the community that has helped me so much and made me feel so accepted. I’m very excited to be working with the DC Chapter, and I will do my best to move it forward and help it improve!