Rising Stars alumni supported Princess Erika Fisher, representing the Pasadena Cultural Institute, at the 2012 Nisei Week Queen Coronation held at the Aratani Japan America Theatre. A recent graduate of UC Irvine, Fisher is a Rising Stars 2 alum and Rising Stars alumni advisor. Her sister was in the inaugural Rising Stars program. From left: Alicia Makata, Erika Fisher, Rachel Weik, Hana Fisher.

The Nikkei Federation announces its 10th annual Rising Stars Youth Leadership Program, a leadership development and cultural education program for high school students.

The program is scheduled to take place on selected Saturdays from Oct. 27, 2012 through March 23, 2013 at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center in Little Tokyo. The JACCC is the venue sponsor for the program and The Rafu Shimpo is the media sponsor.

The program is designed to inspire ongoing involvement in the Japanese American community by presenting a series of active, engaging workshops on a variety of leadership topics. Participants will gain experience in community service and learn about the Japanese American experience as well as how to work in groups.

“We understand that the future of our community lies in the hands our youth,” said Glenn Nakatani, chair of the Rising Stars Youth Program. “We’ve seen first-hand how the skills that are taught in this program have helped the participants in their academic, professional and community endeavors. And, our goal is to reach out to more youth in our community.”

The workshops are led by professional trainers who are also community leaders, from a variety of backgrounds and industries. The six interactive workshops cover topics geared towards developing leadership skills and increasing understanding of the Japanese American culture and history. The workshops include:

* “Team Work,” where the students will learn about different personality styles and how best to deal with personalities that are similar to and different from their own;

* “Assertiveness,” which explores the advantages and disadvantages of assertive versus passive behavior in school and at work and where to draw the line between assertive and overly assertive behavior;

* “Powerful and Persuasive Presentation,” which teaches the practical elements of an effective presentation, including body language, eye contact, voice modulation, hand gestures as well as structuring the speech;

* “Financial Fitness,” which will teach students basic and practical financial skills;

* “Cultural Values,” which is designed to recognize stereotype-based biases that may affect the students in their education and careers and how to deal with them;

* “Networking,” in which the students will learn the benefits of networking and will receive practical tips on how to approach and talk to people in a variety of settings.

Students also plan and execute a group project, engage in special planning meetings, and participate in cultural and social activities. The 11-session program concludes with a graduation reception. The group project and social activities take place at an off-site location. Optional parent activities are also scheduled.

Feedback from past participants has been overwhelmingly positive. The students have said the program has helped them in their academic careers and personal lives, and given them a greater awareness and appreciation of the Japanese American community.

“The speakers we had taught us practical skills as well as a better understanding of our culture,” said Nicole Elby, a graduate of the fifth Rising Stars program. “We learned about our cultural values and how to find a balance between being a doormat and being overbearing. I especially gained from the sessions about how to work in groups and the importance of networking. I’ve already implemented the networking skills, which really helped me with a school project.”

Enrollment is limited to 25. Application deadline is Sept. 15. Participants must be enrolled in high school. A program fee of $200 per student will be charged upon acceptance. Fee includes lunch and snacks for workshop sessions.

For applications or sponsorship opportunities, visit the Nikkei Federation website at www.nikkeifederation.org or contact Glenn Nakatani at P.O. Box 4235, Covina, CA  91723, (626) 915-5338, (626) 915-2699 (fax), or risingstarsyouth@gmail.com.

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