My Films

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Rotary World Peace Fellowship

My statement at a Rotary Luncheon last March:

I am honored to be the recipient of the World Peace Fellowship and I am excited to be joining the 5th class of fellows at the International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan this fall. From the bottom of my heart I want to say thank you for giving me this wonderful life changing opportunity.

Rotary’s other scholarships programs, the Ambassadorial and Student Exchange programs were created in order to promote greater understanding and foster dialogue between different cultures. I believe that Rotary’s newest scholarship program, the World Peace Fellowship, takes this a step farther. It is building leadership resources designed to resolve future conflicts by training fellows in the latest techniques of mediation and conflict resolution by giving them a greater comprehension of peace and cooperation in the world. And in today’s climate, I believe that programs like this are need more than ever. Collectively, I think we are beginning to recognize the important role that mediators and peacemakers play at all levels of conflict, from our local communities to international relations.

The Rotary World Peace Fellowship is a two years master’s program in international peace and conflict resolution. And each year approximately 70 scholars are chosen from the around the world to attend of one of the eight leading universities chosen as Rotary centers. I have been selected to study at the International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan. ICU was started after World War II by American and Japanese missionaries, who acknowledged that new bridges were needed to be built between the two nations in post-war Japan. And for someone who is both of Japanese and Irish-American ethnicity, it seems like the perfect place for me to receive my education from. At ICU, I will be able to take classes in both English and Japanese. And I really look forward to learning not only from my professors but from my fellow scholars as well. They will be coming from all across the globe and will be bringing with them a diverse background of experiences in fields of government, business, and education. I’m sure that they will aid expanding my perspective on these issues.

My interest in peace and conflict resolution has been largely influenced by my international upbringing. From an early age, my father, who was a foreign correspondent journalist, instilled me in the importance of global awareness and role that media plays in shaping it. I grew up traveling through out Asia, and outside of living in Japan and the US, I have lived in China, the Philippines, and the UK as well. It is because of these experiences that I have a great appreciation of cultural diversity and at the same time recognize how interconnected and interdependent we all are. An understanding that I believe is key to facilitating peace in the world.

Here in Los Angeles, I work in the film industry on social issue and human rights documentaries. Most recently I have been worked as an assistant editor on a feature documentary that examines the current situation in Kosovo. My own personal short films have gone on to be screened at various film festivals, have traveled with an art exhibit to the 2004 World Social Forum in Mumbai, India. They have aired on independent and cable television channels, and is currently on exhibit at Whitney Museum as part of the 2006 Bienniel in New York City.

I have also been actively involved in volunteering with local peace organizations: California Peace Action and the Department of Peace Campaign. And starting in April, I will be joining the Japanese NGO Peace boat as their on-board photo-journalist. Peace Boat is a cruise ship that docks in areas of conflict world wide, and organizes peace-building activities between the boat participants and the local organizations of the country.

I applied to this fellowship because I am dedicated to finding alternative solutions to conflict. I was undergraduate film student at New York University, when September 11th happened. And like many, I was profoundly affected by the event and I began to ask myself what am I going to do with my life when I graduate the following spring? I made a commitment to myself that with the skills that I gained from film school that I would create media that would bring awareness to issues of peace and justice, and foster greater tolerance and cooperation among people.

I see myself as an educator who gives lectures and workshops on conflict resolution while utilizing media to assist in people’s understanding of these issues. In order for me to help facilitate media that will truly create positive impact, I know that I need to further my education to understand the challenges that we are facing as a world society.

I also do part time work with inner city teens in East LA, teaching them filmmaking in after school arts programs. Being able to connect with the younger generation and giving them skills of creative self expression gives me immense joy. And so in particular I am interested in creating peace educational media that empowers youth in conflict whether it is here at home or abroad. I want to create a documentary series for high school and college students that focus on the different levels of peace: from achieving inner peace to understanding international peace relations. And by working with other educators, possibly the other scholars that I will meet through this program, and I envision this series being shown on PBS and used in classrooms across America. I also believe that it is important to highlight the valiant lives of individuals who are working for peace. Because on today’s television where violence is often glorified, I believe it is necessary to have an equal balance of positive stories and role models for our youth to look up to.

When I was growing up, I was told by adults over and over again that “you are our future” that “children are our future” Well, I’m no longer a child. And the future is now the present moment. It is now my turn to help create a safer and more peaceful world for the next generation. And I believe that this fellowship will give me the tools to do just that.
Thank you again for this wonderful opportunity.

1 comment:

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