Okinawa Association Celebrates New Year

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Members of the Okinawa Association of America share a toast for 2011 at their annual New Year’s party held on Jan. 16 at the Quiet Cannon in Montebello. (Photos by JUN NAGATA/Rafu Shimpo)

The Okinawa Association of America (OAA, or Hokubei Okinawa Kenjinkai) introduced the first female president in the group’s 102-year history, Kimiko Goya, at its New Year’s party held at Quiet Cannon in Montebello last Sunday.

Approximately 680 people attended and celebrated the new presidency. According to the group, the members of the OAA are 800 families with more than 2,000 people, the largest membership among the prefectural groups. Immediate past president Chogi Higa has also been elected as the 2011 president of the Southern California Federation of Prefectural Association (Nanka Kenjinkai Kyogikai), which consists of 41 prefectural groups.
Goya,the OAA’s 2011-2012 president, is a retired Japanese language teacher at Gardena Buddhist Church, where she worked for 25 years until 2010. She was born and raised in Ginowan in Okinawa. After graduating from Futenma High School, she went to Hawaii to learn English, and graduated from Kapiolani Community College in Honolulu.

Kimiko Goya, right, OAA president, presents a gavel to past president Chogi Higa.

This year, the Uchinanchu Taikai, a meeting of a worldwide network of people with Okinawan heritage (Uchinanchu), will be held in Okinawa from Oct. 13 to 16. The goal of the Uchinanchu Taikai is to bring Uchinanchu from all over the world (the Uchinanchu Diaspora) to return to the islands to reconnect with their heritage and culture and to develop linkages to their motherland. The first Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival was held in 1990, and it has been held every five years since then.

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