We are thrilled to announce Luke Takuya Palermo’s addition to the Japan ICU Foundation as our new Program Assistant. Luke’s job is to help the other full-time JICUF staff with tasks ranging from database management to article translation. He started November 2017, and has already contributed to publicizing the Global Scholarship Campaign and Global Link NY programs. We asked Luke to introduce himself.
“ With a Japanese mother and American father, my identity has always had that Japanese and Asian undercurrent. Ever since I can remember (and before) it’s been manifesting in my thoughts, experiences, and actions with varying degrees of intent.
I was born in Komae City, Tokyo, where I grew accustomed to Japanese sounds in my first year of life. Shortly after I moved to Eatontown, NJ, where I spent the rest of my childhood. Apparently, the linguistic shift was so jarring that it confused my infant brain to the point of physical distress. Such was my first intercultural experience. Luckily, I quickly acclimated and began understanding how I existed in relation to my personal spheres. Sometimes it was a lot of fun. Having a little preemptive knowledge of the then-brand new Pokemon games garnered me some attention from my peers (along with some confusion about the differences in names for the creatures). In my free time I could enjoy some of the most entertaining media I’ve ever experienced thanks to my mother’s Japanese lessons. Other times it was more stressful. Lessons on Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima were always a little uneasy for me, and sometimes I had trouble understanding why my family did things a little differently from other families. My parents enrolled me in Sunday courses at Princeton Community Japanese Language School, a not-so-local hoshuko, and my moody teenage angst made every weekly trip a struggle.
Nonetheless I made it through my adolescence and enrolled in American University for my undergrad, where I really began to process my heritage and identity. Thought-provoking classes and a general maturing of my demeanor allowed me to look back and appreciate my experiences and mine them for further emotional significance. I broadened my interests and discovered I loved delving into critical social theory, Japanese history, entomology, botany, and music. I worked at the campus library and as co-General Manager for WVAU, campus’ online radio station, and gained valuable professional and interpersonal experience for the life ahead of me. I got a better grasp on myself and where I existed in the world.
Now, I’m excited to join JICUF and articulate the skills I’ve gained in a professional environment. Education is a wonderful, self-actualizing experience and I want to do my best to help students of ICU and around the world realize their academic goals anyway I can. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.”