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Growing Community Since 2002: The Nikkei Community Internship Program - Class 11 - Summer 2012


Scott Shima - Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (JACCC) - Southern California

Who are you?
I’m Scott Shima, a sansei/yonsei from Torrance, California. I tell everyone who’s not from southern California that I’m from LA, though. It just makes it easier because not everyone knows where Torrance is.

Tell me more. 
Um, okay. Let’s see...I just finished my first year at the University of California, Riverside. I’m a theatre major. At UCR I’m involved with the Nikkei Student Union and the Asian Pacific Islander Advisory Council; I was also recently hired as an intern at UCR’s Asian Pacific Student Programs office. Here in Little Tokyo, I’ve been involved with the Tuesday Night Cafe, Kizuna, East West Players, and Nikkei Federation. I’m currently training to be an actor/singer/dancer/community activist. All in one.

Where are you interning this summer?
I’m working at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (JACCC) in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo.

Who are your supervisors at the JACCC?
I have three—Robert Hori, director of advancement and strategic initiatives; Jessie Kikuchi, development officer; and Janet Hiroshima, community programs coordinator.

How do you like working with them?
I like them. They’re fun people and they make the workplace a great environment. Robert’s always on top of his stuff, and he always makes me laugh. It’s really interesting and fun to watch him inject his humor into meetings while keeping everything professional. Jessie and Janet are both super organized and great to work with. Jessie—we both have expressive personality styles—bought me candy from Hawaii, so I like her for that. We can talk about anything, from Rent to goings-on at the Hollywood Bowl. And Janet is super organized, which is very impressive. She was up in San Jose at the same time that the mid-session NCI retreat [in San Jose] happened, so I got to meet her family at San Jose Obon. Good stuff.

What do you do at the JACCC?
I guess I sort of do everything. I guess I’d call my position a catch-all position. I work on any event planning and logistical details for upcoming events, I sit in on a wide array of meetings with my supervisors when the opportunity presents itself, and I take care of any miscellaneous office work that just needs to get done.

Are there any memorable events that you’ve helped plan?
Well, there was the huge JACCC dinner a few weeks ago. And right now, the JACCC is planning an event with filmmaker Tad Nakamura, featuring his latest film about Jake Shimabukuro—the ukelele dude. It was cool to watch Tad, Robert, and Craig [Ishii, executive director of Kizuna] posting up in a conference room and just casually hashing out the logistical details of a film screening.

What do you like or dislike about working at the JACCC?
It’s been challenging attending meetings that are conducted in Japanese, because I don’t understand anything that goes on during those meetings. But that balances out with the meetings that I go to with Robert that I do understand—like the meeting with Tad Nakamura and our planning meetings with the owner of Cafe Dulce to collaborate on some events.

Are you learning a lot?
Yes, definitely. Working at the JACCC has certainly been a learning experience. I’ve had some mistakes and hiccups along the way, but I like to think that I’ve come out on top. I’ve always been more of an Apple guy, but I’ve become adequately well-versed in some Microsoft programs, like Word and Excel. It’s a great leap forward for me.

Do you think that you and the JACCC are a good match?
Yeah. Being a theatre major, I’m definitely into the arts. I think that the JACCC is simultaneously an arts space and an office space, and so I’ve really gotten the chance to see the arts side of things and the office side of things. Being around the office in the JACCC has helped me learn how to be more serious and more professional. I would say that I’ve gained some degree of professionalism, and what it means to be professional, through working here.

Is there anything that NCI has helped you learn?
Through NCI, I’ve had the chance to learn more about Little Tokyo, specifically about community-based organizations and why they’re important—in different ways—to the community. For example, I see the difference now between organizations like Kizuna and the JACCC. Kizuna is a young start-up nonprofit, so it’s smaller and more flexible in terms of how its staff and members operate. On the other hand, the JACCC is more structured and a little more formal in how its staff functions.

I’ve also learned more about how important the youth is to the community. After all, apathy is the death of the community. If no one comes back, the community won’t exist. And right now I’m doing my best to make sure I keep coming back.

What have you liked most about the NCI program?
I’ve enjoyed the intern days. Oh, and food. Eating with the interns—and Instagramming all my foodie pics—has been one of the best parts of being around Little Tokyo. 

Any embarrassing moments this summer?
Just one...it happened at the JACCC anniversary dinner. Okay, well...being the gentleman that I am, I was opening up a container of cupcakes for Jessica Kanai—I was trying to—and in the process I ended up accidentally knocking over a glass of water. It spilled on none other than one my JACCC supervisors, Janet.

And hilarity ensued?
Not quite. Not for me. But the moral of the story—be careful with water around your supervisors.

Good words to live by. Save that for next year’s NCI interns.
I plan to.

Based on this original

Scott Shima - Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (JACCC) - Southern California
uploaded by llan
Scott Shima. Photo taken August 6, 2012. Photo courtesy of Lucy Truong. More »

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