My name is Nicole Horiuchi Gaddie, and I am honored to represent the JACL as the newly elected National Youth Student Council Chair.
When I was in high school, my District Governor, Jeanette Misaka, reached out to me and urged me to enter the Min Yasui Oratorical competition.
I won the local and regional competition and was flown to the Chicago convention to compete nationally. The theme of the competition was modeled after President Obama’s theme of “Creating Change.”
I spoke about how Asian Americans could combat stereotypes and how important it was to connect with high schools and colleges to incorporate youth.
I won the competition, and my prize was an all-expense paid trip to Japan. In just a few short months, I had experienced all levels of the JACL. I was welcomed into the organization’s community, taught the historical values and learned how the governing process worked.
When I visited Japan, I was welcomed by JACL Japan Chapter President John Ino. Later, when I moved from Salt Lake City to Seattle for college, I was once again welcomed, this time by District Governor Sheldon Arakaki. The mentorship and guidance of these members urged me to accept the position of Pacific Northwest Youth Rep on the NY/SC and later run for Chair.
For those of you that are unaware, the National Youth/Student Council (NY/SC) represents local JACL youth members, including students and young professionals, at the national level of the organization. The NY/SC consists of representatives from each of JACL’s seven districts, as well as four at-large members. District youth/student representatives serve as the primary link between the NY/SC and youth in local JACL chapters and on college campuses.
As youth, we are united through our past and supported by our present community as we work endlessly to create a more just and humane world for the future.
On July 9, over 60 youth members gathered in San Jose for the 45th annual National Convention. We discussed problems of inequality and the racial stereotypes that continue to infiltrate our media and society. However, despite the challenges Asian Americans face, we as youth also brought a new energy and perspective to the discussion topics.
The Youth Opening Session provided a time to learn about the themes youth are passionate about. These themes included the environment, LGBTQ issues, women’s rights and creating a space to discuss local grievances and controversy. The youth representatives were able to expand on these topics throughout convention with the goal of returning to their campuses and communities with a feeling of empowerment.
Serving as the NY/SC Chair is a very special privilege for me, and I plan to channel the youth’s voice as much as possible to the National Council. I also plan to create an additional membership category for young adults that will fall between youth and adult members.
My goal for the Youth Council is simple: Increase the youth presence within the JACL. From advocacy to cultural preservation, our youth are enthusiastic to contribute.
I want to thank everyone who helped our youth representatives attend convention this year. Older JACL members are essential in guiding and sustaining our youth population. I look forward to a great two years as chair.
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or need any support.
Originally published on July 25, 2015