Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Release: Aratani Nikkeijin Scholarship for Japanese Americans

Keio Academy of New York is pleased to announce a new scholarship program for Japanese - American students, the ARATANI FOUNDATION NIKKEIJIN - SCHOLARSHIP. This scholarship was made possible through a generous gift from Mr. George Aratani, a Japanese-American businessman and philanthropist, and the founder of the Mikasa Corporation, Kenwood Corporation, and various trading companies. In this article, I would like to relate how this scholarship was established.

The idea for the scholarship came from Mr. Aratani's personal experience as a heritage language learner. He was born in 1917 in Gardena, California and moved to Santa Maria where he completed high school. His father, a first generation nikkei*, told him to study in Japan and Mr. Aratani went to Tokyo in 1935. After 10 months, his Japanese had made such excellent progress that he entered Keio University, where he cultivated a life-long friendship with many Japanese people including the late Dr. Shinzo Koizumi, a distinguished scholar and former president of the University. When Mr. Aratani returned to California to transfer to Stanford, his father was pleased at his son's progress and exclaimed, "Oh, Nihongo ga umaku natta na (Your Japanese has improved a lot!)."

Throughout his trying experience in the concentration camp during World War II and his service in the US military, Mr. Aratani always appreciated his opportunity to study in Japan. Therefore, he has been extremely active in contributing to the social welfare of the nikkei community, the preservation and passing on of Japanese cultural heritage, and the promotion of friendship between the United States and Japan . In April 2008, he was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star by the Japanese government for his contributions.

Keio Academy of New York (KANY) was established in NY State in 1990 by Keio University as its 5th affiliated high school. Our mission is to educate future leaders in the global society by emphasizing bilingual and bicultural educational curriculum. While our school traditionally attracts many students from the international Japanese business community, we are trying to diversify our students' cultural background. KANY hopes to invite the best and brightest Japanese-American students who are willing to master Japanese as their heritage language.

As the only Japanese high school in the United States, Keio Academy has been trying to reach out and contribute to local and Japanese-American communities. In this regard, we have contacted Ambassador Sakurai of the Japanese Consulate in New York as he has been actively promoting heritage language and culture study. The Ambassador expressed his support and appreciation for our plan. We think it is socially meaningful to enhance the chances for Japanese-Americans to learn their heritage language and culture. It will also diversify the student body at Keio Academy and the scholarship recipients will make a big impact on our students in favorable ways. When I met Mr. Aratani last March and told him of the scholarship plan, he was especially pleased that the opportunity is intended for high school students. I strongly hope that those Japanese-American students who wish to learn their ancestors' language and culture will become a true bridge between the United States and Japan.

Successful applicants will be admitted to Keio Academy of New York as 9th or 10th graders and their first full year of tuition and their admission fee will be waived.

For information or inquiries regarding qualifications or the application process, please visit our website or contact us by email or by FAX at (914-694-4830). Please ask for the Admissions Office, Attn. Ms. Matsuki. The published deadline is February 27, 2009.

-Sumio Sakomura
Headmaster of Keio Academy of New York
(February 1, 2009)

*nikkei = of Japanese ancestry

Sumio Sakomura, Headmaster of Keio Academy of New York and Professor at Keio University, Department of Law (English Education), was born in Oita Prefecture in 1948 and moved to Yamaguchi Prefecture at age five. He attended International Christian University and after earning his Bachelors degree in 1970 and Masters degree three years later, he became a full time instructor at the Department of Law, Keio University. In 2002, he established the Keio Foreign Language Research and Education Center