Back row, from left: Andrew Nielsen, Aislinn Ozawa-Burns, Tae Shimamoto, Claire Nakamura, Riki Eijima, Wesley Yee. Front row, from left: Jessi Svoboda, Kai Wong, Tai Iwamasa, Mika Osaki. (Photo courtesy of JCCCNC)

SAN FRANCISCO — The Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California has selected participants for the 2012-13 Takahashi Youth Ambassador Fellowship Program.

The new Takahashi Fellows are Riki Hisayo Suzuki Eijima, 14, San Francisco; Tai Masako Iwamasa, 15, San Francisco; Claire Kazumi Nakamura, 15, San Francisco; Andrew K. Shoji Nielsen, 17, Clayton; Sydnie Mika Osaki, 15, San Mateo; Aislinn Kiyomi Ozawa-Burns, 15, Sunnyvale; Tae Li Shimamoto, 16, Oakland; Jessica Kinuko Svoboda, 16, Concord; Kai Erika Wong, 14, San Francisco; and Wesley Hitomo Yee, 16, San Francisco.

They are participating in workshops this summer to learn about the Japanese American community, research and present their own family history, develop and strengthen their leadership skills, fortify their relationships with each other through team-building activities, and begin learning more about Japan, its culture and history, and how they can better prepare for their role as ambassadors on their trip to Japan next summer.

On June 16, the Takahashi Fellows had their first workshop. It was a fun-filled and challenging day that began with a few initial icebreakers, which then led to the “Tabemasho Challenge,” where, in small groups, the fellows had to shop for and prepare their own lunch of hiya-yakko, zaru soba and kinpira gobo.

After lunch, the group learned the basics of planning, creating goals and objectives for their upcoming All You Can Eat Udon Fundraiser. The goal for the Takahashi Fellows is to raise $3,000 at this fundraiser, which takes place Saturday, July 21, at the JCCCNC.

Other activities that are planned for the summer include participating at Fort Miley’s Ropes Course, workshops on Japanese American history, civics and government, and Japanese culture, along with taking the first steps of planning and preparing their own activities. Because this is a two-year program, the fellows will remain active by participating in JCCCNC’s Annual Event in the fall, pound mochi for the new year and then next spring lend a hand at the JCCCNC’s Colma Cemetery Clean-up.

Next summer, they will attend workshops that will focus more on the preparation needed for their trip as ambassadors to Japan in late July 2013, representing their families, the JCCCNC, the community and the United States.

For more information on the program, call (415) 567-5505 or visit the JCCCNC website at

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