Thursday, October 23, 2008

Spotlight #5 - Haruka Roudebush

Name: Haruka Roudebush
Age: 25
Profession: Paralegal at civil rights law firm
Favorite Childhood Cartoon: Anpanman!

Ok, I totally lagged (like 2 months!) on getting this spotlight done. As you can see, I was busy helping Nakayoshi put on events and writing other posts on this blog. So, so busy.

Anyhow, about me... I was born in Tokyo and moved to San Francisco when I was two, and grew up in the Bay Area in San Bruno on the Peninsula and later in Lafayette in the East Bay. I went to UC San Diego where I graduated in 2005 with a major in Political Science and a minor in Japanese Studies.

Growing up, I never had much exposure to the JA community until I went to college, where I served as an officer of the UCSD Nikkei Student Union all four years of undergrad. I also first got involved with the JACL at that time through the San Diego chapter. Since graduating I have served as the Youth Representative on the advisory committee of the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program and am also currently a board member of the San Francisco chapter of the JACL, where I have served the past two years. My job is also centered around civil rights issues, where I work on prison reform issues such as monitoring compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act in California state prisons and also providing full due process rights for juveniles undergoing parole revocation proceedings in California.

I'm not entirely sure of how to define my generational identity within the community. Technically, I'm shin-issei, but have essentially lived my entire life in the US and became a naturalized citizen, so I might be more accurately described as being 1.5 generation JA, with an upbringing closer to the experience of being shin-nisei. Anyhow, even though my mother speaks to me in Japanese, I'd say my fluency in Japanese is closer to that of a three-year-old child. In many ways, I'm just another person exemplifying the underlying diversity that is increasingly characterizing the current generation of youth within the Japanese American community.

My own experience in finding my place within the JA community has come out of my experience exploring my heritage and building up the Nikkei campus community at UCSD through the Nikkei Student Union, and quickly realizing the full scope of the community beyond my college campus. I found further opportunities to stay involved through JACL and volunteering around Japantown after graduating and moving back to the Bay Area. Although I did not grow up connected to the Japanese American community, in the short time since I have gotten directly involved, it has been one of the greatest sources of support, security, pride and purpose in my life. I have found immense gratification in helping build up that community and in turn helping connect my peers and others to it. All this more or less explains why I have been so invested in helping get Nakayoshi off to a strong start. I would love for Nakayoshi to serve as a social outlet for other young JA's to get together once we've graduated and moved on from our campus organizations. Just as importantly, I want Nakayoshi to provide us younger folks a means to connect directly with the rest of the Japanese American community and the other individuals, institutions and organizations within it. Regardless of our prior history, background or experience (or lack thereof) with the Japanese American community, I want to ensure that there are more opportunities for the younger generation to get involved and eventually contribute to a process that will provide a source of sustainable leadership for the community in the future.

When I'm not spending the majority of my free time involved with the community, I enjoy food (eating and cooking!), spending time with my friends and girlfriend, reading, playing video games(nerd alert!), listening to and playing music, cheering on the SF 49ers/SF Giants/SJ Sharks/Golden State Warriors, riding my bike, snowboarding in the winter, and in general enjoying all that San Francisco has to offer!