The Mirai Generations Leadership Program has wrapped up another successful year with the intelligent, compassionate and personable 2020 participants:  Eric Berve, Jessica Harville, Sachi Ishida and Alex Monson.  Despite meeting via Zoom instead of in person and having to delay our final celebration with the community, the program thrived as a result of the flexibility and resiliency of the Class of 2020, who we are now proud to introduce as our latest MGLP Alumni.  Sakura Foundation thanks them for their time and participation and looks forward to the paths they choose to make a difference in the future.

We would also like to thank the following people for facilitating MGLP sessions in 2020 and creating such an incredible environment for personal growth, learning about the J/JA community and expanding leadership skills:  Bennie Covington, Brent Sabati, Alyssa Noguchi, Gil Asakawa, Erin Yoshimura, Allyson Goto, Alyssa Nilemo, DJ Ida, Robin Yasui, Calvin Hada, Dylan Mori, Gary Yamashita, Tim Higashide, Keiko Ozaki and Adam Estacio.  Lastly, we are truly grateful to Simpson United Methodist Church/Nisei Veterans Heritage Foundation, Tri-State Denver Buddhist Temple/Nisei Veterans Heritage Foundation and Nikkeijin Kai of Colorado for their generous grant support.

Here are some reflections on the MGLP experience:

I am so entirely grateful for what Mirai Generations Leadership Program has given me. When I first came into the program, I am not sure I entirely knew what to expect. After COVID-19 made an appearance, I’m not quite sure anyone did either. The program adapted and evolved into what it was meant to be for my cohort and I think in our own little ways we each got something novel out of it, beyond the intended experience itself. Through this program, I’ve been challenged multiple times to see how other leaders think and interact, and I’ve learned a great deal about myself in contrast. I’ve received an education in Japanese American history I wouldn’t have otherwise and I’ve been afforded the opportunity to interact with a community that I only knew tangentially existed before. I appreciate the profound support this program has offered me and I look forward to applying all of the skills I’ve learned in service to my community going forward. I consider it a great honor and a huge privilege to have received this education and I would like to sincerely and deeply thank Stacey, my cohort, the board, and this community for welcoming me “to the table” as it is. I hope to do a great deal of good with all of the great experience this has given me. – Jess Harville

Over the course of several months, through extensive video chats, late night texting, and a long activity filled weekend – I was able to cultivate life-long friendships with influential leaders, both amongst my fellow cohort and community connections at Sakura Foundation. We empowered each other to think outside of the box, have in-depth real conversations, and talk about controversial but ever-present topics. We grew as individuals through these conversations, and increased our self-awareness and cultural awareness within and beyond the JA/J community. We were given tools on how we may be able to take that knowledge and pass it along to those that we lead – with hope to provide a safe and diverse environment for all who desire to learn. To me, the program was more than just discovering what it meant to be a Japanese American through a leadership lens; it was being able to find pride in my cultural identity and connect with people who understand me, and have an equal desire to build sustainable Japanese American growth for the future.   – Alex Monson

MGLP helped me build my understanding of what it means to be a Japanese American person living in Denver. Never have I seen a program that so intentionally invites younger Japanese/Japanese American individuals into a community, to learn from those who have paved the way and uncover paths less traveled. The mentorship, friendship, and sense of self is something that will stick with me for the rest of my life. ありがとうございました!   – Sachi Ishida