Mentor Program Focuses on Youth

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Highlights of the Community Mentor Program include tours of UCLA (above) and the Japanese American National Museum (below).

Highlights of the Community Mentor Program include tours of UCLA (above) and the Japanese American National Museum (below).

The Community Mentor Program (CMP) is a program sponsored by the East San Gabriel Valley Japanese Community Center and Kizuna to forge relationships between high school-age students and young adults to provide a resource for guidance and a positive support system for the mentee.

In addition, the program will create the investment necessary to foster a new generation of stakeholders in the Japanese American community for both parties.

CMP had a total of 20 members in its first year and is only growing. In its first year, CMP took a walking tour of Little Tokyo led by Bill Watanabe, held its first Sushi Fest and Hotdog Cook-off, a tour of the Japanese American National Museum, and a campus tour of UCLA. In addition to these events, CMP has also volunteered at Keiro on multiple occasions as well as fundraised at Akimatsuri, Cherry Blossom, and Kizuna Family Showdown.

With the beginning of our second year, we are planning more activities and events, such as Cal Poly Pomona and CSU Fullerton campus tours, meeting with a college counselor to discuss applications and college-related topics, as well as social activities such as game days and potlucks.

We began our 2013-2014 year with a game booth at the ESGVJCC’s annual Akimatsuri Fall Festival, where CMP was able to raise funds for upcoming activities, and participated in Kizuna’s annual Scavenger Hunt. Some upcoming events include a Holiday Potluck and tour of JANM, tour of UC Irvine, and Sports Day.

CMP offers a variety of resources to help students with the sometimes confusing aspects of applying to colleges and deciding majors. Mentees can seek advice, whether personal or academic, through one-on-one mentoring occasions.

Participation is free for mentees. The program coordinators and mentors are volunteering their time. Mentees must be current high school students. Mentors have completed degrees at universities and gone on to careers in fields like engineering, non-profit management and consulting.

What is unique about CMP is the eclectic pool of mentors that have been selected to be a part of the program. Just like the Japanese American communities in Southern California, each mentor’s experience in their respective communities is unique.

If you are interested in becoming a mentor or mentee, contact Melissa Kozono at [email protected] or Mickie Okamoto-Tsudama at [email protected]

Japanese American National Museum Tour for CMP

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