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  • 10 May 2021 12:12 AM | JCSM Admin (Administrator)

    The Japanese Cultural Society of Maui awarded the Asa Ellison Memorial Scholarship worth $1750 to Leilah V. Eusebio of King Kekaulike High School for her efforts in perpetuating the Japanese culture and language. JCSM also awarded $1000 scholarships to Elise Aquinde and Teige-Anna Barcoma Suyat of Maui High School, and Cassidy Hanano of Kamehameha Schools Maui.

    The scholars were selected primarily for their record of involvement in promoting and perpetuating the Japanese culture and language.

    Eusebio fell in love with the Japanese culture and has made it her goal to take up Japanese Studies in college in order to become a Japanese language teacher. Early last year, her team won first place at the Japan Wizards Competition organized by the Japan America Society of Hawaii, which included a trip to Japan as a prize.

    The JCSM Scholarship Committee also noted Eusebio’s dedication to the culture even though she is not of Japanese descent. Her scholarship was made possible by generous donations from Asa Ellison’s friends and family, who keeps his spirit alive by supporting our young leaders.

    The scholars will be recognized in August at JCSM’s annual event Maui Matsuri, which was cancelled last year due to the pandemic. To make a donation to this program to support future scholars, contact jcsmhawaii@gmail.com.

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  • 10 Jan 2021 1:36 AM | JCSM Admin (Administrator)

    Kahului, Hawaii – The Japanese Cultural Society of Maui will honor nine Maui individuals with the Resilience Award, recognized for their leadership and community service in 2020. The awardees were nominated and have been selected for going above and beyond their own capacity to give back to the community, and for being an inspiration during these trying times of the pandemic.

    The awardees will be recognized at JCSM’s annual Shinnen Enkai New Year celebration, which will be held online on Saturday, January 23 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Registration is free, and sponsorship opportunities are available here.

    The awardees are:

    Aris Almerida Banaag, Task Force Maui Medical COVID-19 Response

    Capt. Aris Banaag led the Task Force Maui Medical Response Covid-19 Mission for the Hawaii National Guard on Maui. Their operations are on-going. His team has provided numerous safety and educational briefings to private and public entities, and led the swabbing and PPE training for all Airport Rescue FireFighters (ARFF) for Maui County. His team was present at every COVID-19 surveillance, testing operation, contact tracing education and every crisis response. Aris is on the ground helping transport boxes of relief goods to car trunks at most Binhi At Ani Food distribution drive. With the countless hours Aris has devoted to keeping us safe during this pandemic, we are fortunate to have leaders like him protect and serve our community.

    Evanette Hardin of Family Life Center

    As many families endure making ends meet for shelter during the pandemic, Eva doubled her efforts to make sure the homeless are not forgotten. She has made it a family affair to provide unavailable support such as transportation to those in need, sacrificing her personal resources, time, and even her own health, just to ensure a vulnerable family is safe with a warm home and bed. Eva is an unsung hero whose compassion and love for the community is often unnoticed, but for the countless families she’s helped, to them she is an angel.

    Dr. Lui K. Hokoana of University of Hawaii Maui College

    In addition to leading the transition for UH Maui College students to attend full-online classes during this pandemic, Chancellor Hokoana made sure to carve out time in his schedule to help produce initiatives that help fight COVID-19. UHMC became a hub for community-led efforts such as the Contact Tracer Training for state administrators and employees. Lui made sure the community knew the college was available and willing to support resilience efforts. While many in the community were laid off and unemployed, he partnered with the County of Maui to create the Maui County Virtual Job Fair to help train displaced workers to find new jobs and careers. He also helped execute several food distribution initiatives, and most recently, hosted COVID-vaccination drive-thru events. Though he is typically one who prefers to be behind-the-scenes, the chancellor’s commitment to innovation, culture and community especially during a pandemic has inspired his peers in the academe, the students, and the Maui community.

    Chef Kyle Kawakami of Maui Fresh Streatery

    Chef Kawakami cooked & prepared nearly 5,000 hot, delicious meals for the past 44 weeks, which provided sustenance for socially isolated, high-risk kupuna all over Maui during this pandemic. With support from individual donations from his Aloha Tip Jar, volunteer “food angels” who help deliver the food, and with generous community partners, he showed resilience with his Kokua Meals Initiative program despite enduring temporary closure with his food truck business. Chef Kyle wouldn’t think twice when presented with an opportunity to help his community.

    Megan Nakashima of Pukalani Superette

    Though she may seem quiet and unassuming, Megan’s resourcefulness and strength shone when her community called for help during this pandemic. As President of Pukalani Superette, she utilized her connections to source food and raise donations for food distributions to Upcountry residents in need. She was instrumental in the success of various initiatives by Pukalani Elementary, Upcountry Strong and Women Helping Women. Her hands-on and humble leadership has inspired others to give back to the community as well.

    Shannon Loo & Jonah Valois-Nishimura of Maui Minyo Kai

    When the much-anticipated Bon Dance festivals around the island was cancelled, Shannon and Jonah created Zoomdori – bringing the Japanese cultural dances online. The duo held online classes every Friday night from March to September 2020, reaching an audience in the thousands as far as Asia to the US Mainland. The effort did not only promote their love for Japanese dance, which brought many smiles and cultivated friendships, but their display of resilience provided healing and breathing space for the many affected by the pandemic.

    Jennifer Oberg of Maui Face Mask Project

    When there was a demand for face masks to protect the community from the virus, the Maui Face Mask Project responded. Leveraging her expertise as a top-notch dressmaker, Jennifer worked with medical professionals to design an N-95 equivalent mask, then organized a dedicated group of volunteers to produce thousands. She rose to the challenge and brought many others up with her. The masks provided protection for Maui healthcare professionals and essential workers – literally saving many lives. Jennifer’s resilience inspired many others to do the same, prompting many volunteers and community partners to respond, which also cultivated friendships and a sense of purpose during this difficult and isolated time. She continues to make masks through the Maui Sewing Hui and hopes to continue to inspire more to give back to the community.

    Leinaala Perry of Project Ho’omana

    Leinaala, together with her daughters Tyra-Li and Pristine, re-imagined Project Ho’omana of East Maui to address the basic needs affected by the pandemic for their community. Lei fundraised, organized and empowered her community – especially the kupuna and keiki, with over 50 distributions in Hana ranging from school supplies, footwear, “kupuna blessing bags”, weekly produce at the farmers market, turkeys for Thanksgiving, toys and food truck vouchers for Christmas and monthly food boxes. Today, Lei is still fundraising to do more and improve their operations, so she can continue to be a blessing to her community.

    John Tryggestad of Maui Friends of the Library

    MFOL is one of the many nonprofits affected by the pandemic as its stores were forced to temporarily close, giving a halt to its primary fundraising source. But because of the leadership of their president John Tryggestad, they were able to uphold and continue their mission to provide support to libraries and enhance the communities learning experience through used books and resources. With new safety protocols in place, John provided leadership in the distribution of more than 8,400 books to Maui teachers, librarians, and parents of homeschoolers. This was coupled with their Holoholo Bookmobile, which provided much needed support to families. John ensured that learning will never be canceled on Maui because of MFOL’s commitment to the community.

    “This event promises to be a night of inspiration and hope – something we need to look forward to for this year’s challenges,” said Deron Furukawa, president of JCSM. “I invite you all to celebrate and honor these remarkable awardees with us, and help share their stories to create positive change in our community.”

    The event is free and open to the public. All funds raised will go towards JCSM’s Scholarship Program. Contact jcsmhawaii@gmail.com for any questions.

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  • 9 Jan 2021 12:10 AM | JCSM Admin (Administrator)

    The Japanese Cultural Society of Maui will feature Japanese American actor and producer Shin Koyamada as guest speaker at its virtual Shinnen Enkai celebration on Saturday, Jan. 23 at 6 p.m.

    Koyamada is Chairman and CEO of Shinca Group managing multiple global businesses. He is best known worldwide for his roles in The Last Samurai and the Disney Channel original movie Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior.

    Koyamada became eminent for his longtime global philanthropic efforts when his wife and he founded Koyamada International Foundation (KIF), a global NGO based in Los Angeles, California, to improve quality of people’s life by empowering global youth and women to reach their full potential and by providing humanitarian aid to promote global peace and sustainable development.

    KIF has ambassadors and affiliates around the world and partnered with renowned United Nations agencies and international NGOs for its global programs such as youth leaderships, gender equality, disaster relief, people-to-people exchanges, extreme poverty and SDGs.

    As Tokyo’s Olympics Ambassador for Karate, Koyamada holds black belts in Japanese and Korean martial arts, and won U.S. national championships in Chinese martial arts. He immigrated from Japan to the United States in June 2000 and is bilingual in Japanese and English.

    Sponsorship and advertising opportunities are available, and registration for the event is free at jcsmaui.org.

  • 17 Nov 2020 2:33 AM | JCSM Admin (Administrator)

    KAHULUI, Hawaii – The Japanese Cultural Society of Maui awarded the Asa Ellison Memorial Scholarship worth $1500 to Lannie Hisashima, King Kekaulike graduate and currently attending University of Portland, for her efforts in perpetuating the Japanese culture and language.

    Hisashima has travelled and performed for Maui’s Zenshin Daiko taiko group for the past 12 years. She has earned a Seal of Biliteracy for Japanese and English and has used her skills to teach the language in various notable service projects. She has demonstrated outstanding contributions to the community and with her sharpened skills, aspires to continue to give back.

    JCSM also awarded $1000 scholarships to Sarah Fusato of King Kekaulike High School who is currently attending University of Hawaii at Manoa, Nadia Apo Takayama of Kamehameha High School who is also attending UH Manoa and Kara Nakahashi of H.P Baldwin High School who is attending Portland State University. The scholars were selected primarily for their record of involvement in promoting and perpetuating the Japanese culture.

    “We were so impressed with the pool of candidates this year and we want to congratulate the top scorers,” said Eugene Shikuma chairperson of the Scholarship Committee. “We want to support our scholars to further their education and in their desire to keep the Japanese culture and language alive for future generations.”

    To make a donation to this program to support future scholars, contact jcsmhawaii@gmail.com.

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  • 7 Oct 2020 12:37 AM | JCSM Admin (Administrator)

    KAHULUI, Hawaii – As an update to its previous announcement, the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui has increased the amount from $1000 to $1,500 for the Asa Ellison Memorial Scholarship, for the applicant who has shown grit in learning and in the perpetuation of the Japanese language.

    Thanks to the generous donation of $1000 from John and Pamela Lezo, Ellison’s brother-in-law and sister, a portion of the amount will also be dedicated for the 2021 scholarship program cycle under Asa Ellison’s name.

    Ellison was a former president of JCSM who suddenly passed away from pancreatic cancer in March of this year. JCSM will also award three more $1000 non-academic, cultural scholarships to selected recipients who graduated from a High School in Maui this year. 

    The deadline to apply is Oct. 15. For more information and to download the application form, go to jcsmaui.org.

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    Aug. 16 PRESS RELEASE:

    Applications sought for cultural scholarship, late president Asa Ellison honored

    KAHULUI, Hawaii – The Japanese Cultural Society of Maui has launched its 2020 round of scholarship applications, which is a $1000 non-academic, cultural scholarship that calls for students who graduated from a High School in Maui this year. 

    JCSM will vet and select three applicants who have a record of community involvement, specifically in the perpetuation of the Japanese culture, and have an intent to continue. This could be in performing or martial arts, Japanese crafts, preservation of traditional customs, culinary, visual arts and anime, pop culture, fashion, business and technology, history, and many others. 

    And beginning this year, JCSM will also select one $1000 recipient of the Asa Ellison Memorial Scholarship Award for an applicant who has shown grit in learning and in the perpetuation of the Japanese language. 

    JCSM honors its late president Asa Ellison who unexpectedly passed away in March because of cancer. Ellison was a tour guide with JTB, an amazing photographer and has served on the JCSM board for many years. He began learning Nihonggo as a student of then-Maui Community College and fully embraced the Japanese culture since. Ellison spoke Japanese fluently and often shared about the importance of perpetuating the language in JCSM’s mission. 

    “The organization mourns our dear friend Asa’s passing, and coupled with the challenges brought by the pandemic, our scholarship program is a bit late this year – but better late than never,” said Deron Furukawa who serves as an interim president. “It’s a difficult time for everyone and we know the money will help. We also decided to honor Asa’s memory and his love for the Japanese language by supporting our scholars.”

    The Asa Ellison Memorial Scholarship is given to an applicant who may be studying the language, teaching the language, or has demonstrated commitment to use the language moving forward. Eligibility and requirements to apply are the same.

    The application form is available on jcsmaui.org and the deadline to submit is October 15. Email jcsmhawaii@gmail.com for inquiries. 

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Japanese Cultural Society of Maui, Inc.   Est. 1969

P.O. Box 5090, Kahului, Hawaii 96732     jcsmhawaii@gmail.com

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