Editor’s Note: Kristin Chun, a sophomore at Creighton University, joined the JCCH as a summer intern in 2023. She helped with multiple projects, including Hidden Histories of WWII, Tanoshii Hawaiʻi keiki summer cultural camp, and the soon-to-be-released Wakame 若目 video series. Please read about her experience below.

JCCH Sr. Program Coordinator Devynn Kochi and Kristin at the 2023 Mōʻiliʻili Summer Festival

As a Center for Tomorrow’s Leaders Summer in Hawaiʻi intern, I was paired with the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaiʻi with the goal of learning about how local non-profits operate and engage with the community. I saw first-hand what it is like to watch programs come to fruition and how the JCCH engages the Japanese American community and beyond. During my time at the JCCH, I gained much more than my initial goal.

In my first two weeks, I helped curate the digital notebook for the Hidden HIstories of World War II, a program to support the development of a new curriculum to grow the narrow narrative currently told in classrooms. Hearing the stories of docents while standing on the grounds of the Honouliuli incarceration camp put into perspective the weight and reach of the JCCH’s work.

One of my favorite things that the JCCH emphasizes is identity, specifically their work with young people by instilling pride in who they are and where they come from. I was able to work at their keiki cultural camp, Tanoshii Hawaiʻi. As a third-generation Asian American myself, it was exciting to see kids be able to engage with culture through food, dance, arts, and more. Tanoshii Hawaiʻi gave keiki the chance to see the Hawaiʻi Japanese American experience and connect with Hawaiʻi’s heritage in a way they haven’t been able to before.

Kristin and a Tanoshii Hawaiʻi camper
7-11 Slurpee Day run
Geta race at Tanoshii Hawaiʻi

The last project I worked on was the 3rd episode of Wakame 若目, a video series telling the stories of young locals making an impact in the community. As a young person who attends school on the continent with the intention of coming back home, I resonated with their stories and experiences and what it is like growing up in Hawaiʻi at the intersection of many cultures. Be sure to check out Wakame 若目 when the series is released on JCCH’s YouTube channel!

I am a firm believer in tapping into Hawaiʻi’s rich culture and history to educate all generations, and the JCCH is at the forefront of bridging communities and increasing understanding of our home in big and small ways. I am so grateful to have been a part of the JCCH’s work this summer and to have learned from many community members. I appreciate the JCCH staff, members, docents, and volunteers for welcoming me to their team for the summer. I could not have asked for a better place to learn from or a better team to be a part of.