Kathryn Murata, Bachelor of Arts degree in Japanese Studies and a Minor in Politics from Willamette University

It has been an enlightening and rewarding experience interning and working part-time at the Japan-America Society of Hawaii (JASH). From beginning my internship with only knowledge of Japanese language and culture, I have grown to truly value the hard work and effort of the JASH staff and the events they organize in order to cater to a variety of public audiences and perpetuate the U.S.-Japan relationship. 

Having spent just over a year with JASH, I was involved in many of their events, from membership events such as the Hilton 5:01 and Hinamatsuri to fundraisers such as JASH’s Annual Dinner and Golf Tournament. One of my first major tasks as an intern was to create a short video highlighting Annual Dinner honoree Hawaiian Airlines’ contributions to the U.S.-Japan relationship. My primary role, however, was to serve as the Educational Program Assistant, so I was deeply involved in programs such as Japan Day, the TOMODACHI-Aloha Leadership Program, Japan in a Suitcase, and JASH’s largest educational program, the JASH Japan Wizards Academic Team Competition. I was also given the responsibility of coordinating the Asian-Pacific Children’s Convention (APCC) Mission Project in Honolulu, Hawaii, where students from Fukuoka, Japan participated ina 5-day homestay with volunteer host families from around the island. Despite not knowing each other’s languages, both host families and Japanese students were able to communicate in different ways, and I had the pleasure of witnessing their relationships grow from awkward silences at the Welcome Ceremony to warm embraces and tearful goodbyes at the students’ departure. Participating in these programs and observing the impact these programs make on students and their families was especially gratifying. The cross-cultural relationships established by these programs transcend language barriers and are instead built upon the innately human relationships and emotions all people share.

I would like to thank my supervisors and the JASH staff and Board of Directors for giving me this extraordinary opportunity. I will cherish these experiences as I pursue my future career goals.