In March of 2017 I applied for the Kizuna NCI Internship. I was nearing the end of my first year at UCLA where I study Fine Art and Asian American Studies and I wanted to become more involved in the API community in Los Angeles, especially the Japanese American community, since I grew up in San Francisco and had no previous involvement with Los Angeles. I also wanted to gain some internship experience, as I this is my first internship and I wanted to have one that was meaningful to me and this community.
I was placed at the Venice-West LA Chapter of the JACL and the main objective of the work I do is to bring the chapter up to date in terms of technology and design to make it more accessible and appealing to the younger generation of Japanese Americans. I have primarily worked on designing a website for the recently merged Venice-West LA chapter of the JACL, designing an email newsletter and various flyers for future events that the chapter has planned.
The NCI program also includes weekly Intern Days in which we learn about professional skill and visit important Japanese American organizations in the LA area and learn about the work they do in their community. We have gone on a historical tour of Little Tokyo, visited the Go For Broke Museum, the Asian American Studies Department at UCLA, the Gardena Valley Japanese Community Japanese Community Institute and many more. These Intern Days have been a nice addition to my internship work as it is more of a traditional learning program as supposed to the more hands on and practical experience I have gained in my work with the Venice-West LA JACL
Throughout the internship I have worked in the Kizuna office in Little Tokyo, as the Venice-West LA chapter of the JACL doesn’t have any permanent staff or office. So most of the work I have done has been remote with the help of Amy Watanabe, Vice President of the chapter. Initially, this was very strange and I didn’t fully understand how to be efficient with my time or solve problems independently. However, as the the internship has progressed I have adapted and that ability to work independently has been one of the greatest lessons that I have learned from this internship.
Overall, through the internship I have learned not only how to work independently but also much about web design and graphic design as well as helped me get involved in the LA Japanese American community and make connections with amazing people here. After this internship is over I hope to stay involved with the Venice-West LA JACL and the larger Japanese American community throughout my college career and after I graduate as well.