by Megan Nagasaki
Greetings from the newest *working adult* in Little Tokyo (probably, maybe)! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Megan Nagasaki. I have been recently hired as Kizuna’s Development Coordinator and I’d love to take you all through my first day of work in the office! Think of it as a glimpse into the future for you ‘kids’ still in school (ah, I remember those days) or a flashback to the past for you wiser, more experience folk (according to our NCI intern Dylan, that includes everyone approaching 30 and older). One small step for man, one large step for the bright-eyed, recent college graduate.
6:22 AM *sigh* one would think the ‘first day of school’ excitement would carry over to the work world, but I’m going to be honest, waking up to the third of my five set alarms was rough. I don’t remember the last time I was expected to be a contributing member of society this early in the day, but this is what adults do, right??
8:07 AM “Traffic is the worst.” “Is it always going to be this bad?” “I wonder how much of my life is going to be spent on the 110 freeway...” “Is it bad if I start eating some of my lunch already?”
9:30 AM at the East San Gabriel Valley Japanese Community Center's (ESGVJCC) Camp Chibikko. Field trip on the first day?!?? I think I’m going to like it here. I’m tagging along to take pictures of coworker Sophie reading Kizuna’s children’s book Thank You Very Mochi— a riveting tale of family bonds, Japanese American traditions, and sweet, sweet mochi. Word on the street is that we are now 5 months away from Christmas, according to QVC, so I mean, you know…
Having worked at some of our Kizuna programs in the past as a counselor for our summer camp and leadership programs, I’m grateful that transitioning into full-time staff doesn’t mean stuffy cubicles, isolated workdays, or boring 9-5 tasks throughout the week. YAY for not having to say goodbye forever to fun camp visits and getting to interact with campers! I even got a glimpse of the additional opportunities this job and this organization has to offer. For example, Sophie, who is off to grad school in the fall and whose position I’m taking, was able to co-write this book during her time at Kizuna! (#girlboss) Could that be me in the future???? *stay tuned*
11:22 AM at Cafe Dulce. Ahhhh, the sweet smell of coffee, temptation, and “I’m going to be spending WAY too much money here.” Dina and I took the short 2 min stroll to the local coffee shop right in the Japanese Village Plaza across the street. Got my usual (see, I already have a usual) Dulce Latte with soy milk. My bank statement keeps telling me no, but my taste buds, my energy levels, and my heart keep telling me yes. I’ve heard people say all the time, “I never drank coffee until I started working 9-5.” ...I mean it when I say I feel that on a spiritual level.
Beyond needing the caffeine for the sake of both my sanity and work quality, more importantly than that, it’s delicious. And even more importantly than that, Cafe Dulce is known for giving back to the Little Tokyo community. I’m all for supporting small businesses, especially those who value this particular community and they're doing their part to make sure Little Tokyo remains not only a tourist destination, but a historical and cultural landmark integral to the greater LA community. (They also have donuts!!!!)
11:40 AM at the Kizuna office. Dina ever so kindly walked me through the on-boarding process, setting up all my new accounts and introducing me to all the new software. I learned more in-depth about a portion of my job that involves event planning for our large community fundraiser events. We’re in the very beginning stages of envisioning what this next year’s dinner is going to be and I get to dream about what my first big Kizuna event will potentially look like next spring! (you should probably come to that, I hear it’s going to be pretty great or something...)
1:48 PM *OFFICE AC DIES* downtown LA in the summer should give you enough context as to why this is a significant marker in my day.
3:30 PM This upcoming August, Kizuna is having our summer Opportunity Drawing and raffling off prizes - some of which are sourced right here in Little Tokyo! I get to reach out to some of our local businesses in LT and partner with them to encourage the opportunity drawing participants to visit and support businesses who support the community. In our Kizuna Leadership program for high school students, we’ve been talking about the importance of supporting local businesses who hold stakes in the community. It’s always a great reminder that the students (and counselors) have the power to show their support and also thank these businesses for playing a vital part in making Little Tokyo the enjoyable, unique, and resilient community we know and love.
4:40 PM It’s normal and almost expected that the Kizuna office has a number of visitors daily. Community members, past program participants, etc. have ventured up to the 3rd floor of the JACCC, sat on arguably the comfiest couch in Little Tokyo, and lingered to catch up with staff members and/or to escape the outside heat (both reasons of visit accepted). My friend Bryce paid a visit after his day interning at the Keiro office down the street. Bryce and I (and our other close pal, Eric) have been good friends after meeting in the Nikkei Community Internship (NCI) two years ago and have served as counselors for Kizuna’s Summer Camp and Leadership programs each year since. All three of us try to eat lunch together most days of the week, just like old times :’)
5:30 PM sitting on the 110. in traffic. again. I’m not going to sugar coat this when I say the commute back to the South Bay from Little Tokyo makes the top 10 list of my least favorite things. It does give me ample time to reflect and think, but it’s pretty hard not to when you’re going 10 mph and have moved half a mile in the past 15 minutes. Honestly speaking though, in my reflection, I’m reminded of what an honor it truly is to be able to take part in serving the JA community that has benefitted me and countless others. Community members constantly talk about ’the next generation’ and how important it is for young people like myself to participate this community—after all, our generation has to decide what it looks like moving forward. Kizuna has played an integral role in getting me plugged into the community and seeing its value. I now have a greater understanding of what it means to take responsibility in ensuring that our JA history, culture, and community have all it needs to not only survive, but to thrive for generations to come. Now I get the chance to work for the organization that is creating more of these opportunities for other young people just like me.
It’ll be quite an adventure moving forward and to be frank, there’s a steep learning curve and high demands to be met, as is the case with any other job. But I know that the mission, values, and purposes both this organization and this community hold will give me the inspiration and encouragement moving forward. Looks like this job comes with a lot more benefits than just retirement packages.
Well, hopefully this won’t be the last time you’ll be hearing from me, but until then, I’ll raise my Cafe Dulce cup and cheers to “adulting” in the real world—here’s to day 1 of many.