Japanese American youth leadership program calling for participants

The Nikkei (Japanese American) Federation announces its eighth 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 November 2010 through early April 2011 at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center in Little Tokyo.

The goal of the program is to provide leadership skills to high school youth and inspire them to cultivate an ongoing involvement with the Japanese American community. Participants will develop leadership skills, gain experience in community service and learn about the Japanese American experience.

“We understand that the future of our community lies squarely on the shoulders of our youth,” said Ann Masuda, former Chair of the Rising Stars Program. “We’ve seen firsthand how the skills that are taught in this program have helped the participants in their academic, professional and community endeavors.”

The workshops are led by professional trainers who are also community leaders, from a variety of backgrounds and industries. The 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,” a workshop that 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; “Speak to Persuade,” a workshop teaching the practical elements of an effective presentation, including body language, eye contact, voice modulation, hand gestures as well as structuring the speech; “Financial Fitness,” a workshop that will teach students basic and practical financial skills;  “Cultural Values,” a workshop designed to help students recognize stereotype-based biases that may affect them in their education and careers and learn how to deal with them; and Networking,” a workshop 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.

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 have 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, Rising Stars graduate. “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!”

According to Lauren Kitada, who graduated from the seventh Rising Stars Program, “My favorite workshop was where I learned about how to communicate effectively with others, that people have different approaches and how to appreciate what each person can contribute to a project. Rising Stars taught us valuable leadership skills we will use the rest of our lives.”

Early submission of application is strongly encouraged as enrollment is limited. Participants must be enrolled in high school. A program fee of $200 per student will be charged upon acceptance.

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