The Ambassador. Spring, 2022

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The Ambassador Fostering a community of inquisitive learners and independent thinkers, inspired to be their best selves, empowered to make a difference. Spring/Summer 2022

ASAKO SERIZAWA ’92 Talks about her debut novel


Discusses her memoir and writing career

The American School in Japan


The winners of the inaugural Alumni Impact Award


A look at our new sustainability policy

The Ambassador Fostering a community of inquisitive learners and independent thinkers, inspired to be their best selves, empowered to make a difference. Spring/Summer 2022

ASAKO SERIZAWA ’92 Talks about her debut novel


Discusses her memoir and writing career

The American School in Japan


The winners of the inaugural Alumni Impact Award


A look at our new sustainability policy

In this Issue Features

06 12 18

Interwoven Stories Asako Serizawa ’92 talks about her debut novel, Inheritors

Tell Us Everything Erika Krouse ’87 tells us about her new memoir and her writing career

Unique Propositions

High school students present their pitches for their Business Challenge


ASIJ Alumni Impact Award The winner of the inaugural Alumni Impact Award


A Step Towards Sustainability The student-led initiative to put SDGs into practice at ASIJ

More 03 \\ Head of School’s Message 04 \\ ASIJ Highlights 24 \\ Reunions 27 \\ Sustaining Excellence 36 \\ Alumni Council 38 \\ ASIJ Alumni Connect 40 \\ Class Agents 42 \\ Artifact 43 \\ Obituaries 48 \\ The Big Short

Director of Communications Matt Wilce Assistant Director of Communications Jarrad Jinks Graphic Designer Ryo Ogawa Photography Jarrad Jinks Ryo Ogawa Illustration Miki Katsuda Alumni Coordinator Miranda Liu Director of Institutional Advancement Clive Watkins Director of Giving Claire Lonergan Data Specialist Catherine Iwata Editorial Inquiries — The American School in Japan 1-1-1 Nomizu, Chofu-shi Tokyo 182-0031, Japan The Ambassador is published by The American School in Japan ASIJ alumni, families, faculty, and friends receive The Ambassador Although some photos taken for this issue depict subjects who are not wearing masks, all photo shoots followed strict safety protocols with staff and subjects, distancing and wearing masks at all other times. Some images were taken before the pandemic.




This spring we have lots to celebrate at ASIJ. As you’ll see in the following pages, things are getting a little more normal and traditions, such as the high school’s Spring Musical, have returned to campus. In this issue we also celebrate two acclaimed ASIJ authors, Erika Krouse ’87 and Asako Serizawa ’92 who share their own stories and the impact that their time at ASIJ had on their eventual careers. It is telling that for both women, the experiences and the challenge to think differently they encountered at ASIJ were transformational. Some of those signature programs such as Japan Seminar continue to inspire students today and we continue to develop what we hope are impactful and authentic opportunities for our students. The business challenge featured on page 18 is just one example and this year students are pitched their business ideas to executives from retailer UNIQLO and the Japan-America Society, with broadcaster NHK World filming the process. No doubt this experience will stay with those involved long after the event and this is just one example of how our Director of Strategic Partnerships, Ryosuke Suzuki, continues to connect ASIJ with organizations in the community to provide students with real world connections to their learning. One student I have had the pleasure of working with closely is Conner Takehana ’22. Conner took on a leadership role to help shepherd what turned into a set of new policies pertaining to sustainability from their conception to their recent approval by ASIJ’s Board of Directors. You can read more about the creation and content of the policies, and hear from Conner himself on page 24.


You’ll see many mentions of our Alumni Council in these pages in conjunction with several new initiatives from the Advancement Office, not least our inaugural Alumni Impact Award. The recipients this year, the Thirteen Sisters, couldn’t embody ASIJ’s mission and values any more clearly. Their lasting impact on their alma mater moved their fellow alumni to nominate and select them for this honor and ASIJ is proud to recognize their contributions. I am heartened to see that with the reinvigoration of our Alumni Council and the creation of new subcommittees, many alumni are stepping up to become engaged and support the School. Thank you to all those who served on previous iterations of the Alumni Council and paved the way for the current team. Looking ahead to our 120th Anniversary next year, I hope that there will be opportunities for our community to reconnect in person—both on and off campus—as we celebrate many generations of Mustangs past, present and future, and their positive impact on the world. With warm regards,

Jim Hardin Head of School






Me and My Girl Me and My Girl made its ASIJ debut this year with four performances in April. Originally a hit in the 1930s–40s, the show was revived in 1986 on London’s West End before transferring to Broadway. The story revolves around an unapologetically unrefined cockney gentleman, Bill Snibson (Kaito Burkheimer ’22), who learns that he is the 14th heir to the Earl of Hareford. However, he will only receive his inheritance if Sir John and the Duchess approve of him and his girlfriend, Sally Smith (Mari Ishii ’22). A large cast and crew worked hard to bring back this ASIJ tradition and master the “Lambeth Walk.”





Waves of Sound

Running For Gold

Edocational Experiences

Visiting musician in-residence Shawn Seymour helped elementary and middle school students explore the connections between science and music as they studied sound waves, created instruments and recorded original compositions. Shawn visited ASIJ thanks to a PTA Grant.

Student photographer Kian Sime ’24 headed to nearby Ajinomoto Stadium for a recent high school track meet to capture this shot of the relay featuring Take Zoot ’22.

Students in MS Humanities put their tactical expertise to the test with the Bushido Game. Students planned for war while keeping track of income, expenses, and losses and made sure their armies came out on top.






Kanto Collaboration

NYT Competition Grade 11 student Momo Horii ’23 was inspired to write the following essay when she noticed the static tone and style that an over reliance on Grammarly was having on her peers. Her review of the program was selected as a runner up in a recent New York Times competition. Over 30 million. That’s how many people worldwide have turned to the AI-powered writing assistant, Grammarly. In their ad online, the non-threatening generic voice boldly promises it will make your writing “clear, mistake-free, and impactful.” However, these commercials, now dangerously close to an internet sensation, advertise a software useful only to a certain extent. They can feel like a TikTok posted by The Onion when the writers have run out of punchlines.

International schools from across the region came together at ASIJ for the annual Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools Honor Orchestra and Honor Band concert. This was the first time schools had played together since the pandemic started. We welcomed Chief Warrant Officer Richard F Chapman and Dr Ju Hyuk Kim to conduct the musicians, culminating in an accomplished performance.


A Heated Competition

In its essence, Grammarly splashes suggestions onto your draft to cut down any frivolous phrases or words. Pay for an upgrade, and more suggestions will appear. If your work involves sending out emails, you’ll notice when a sender has fallen victim to Grammarly. The email will be bland and lack personality. And conspicuously so. When using Grammarly, you are robbed of your own style —it’s the UNIQLO of AI softwares. This happens because users are nudged to accept suggestions, such as “not even a knowledgeable audience might understand this word,” or take away the “preposition at the end of the sentence.” Depending on the context, however, these mistakes may be the very rhetorical tool that defines one’s writing as their own. Out of 30 million people who use Grammarly, a vast population are students who use it as a safety net —excluding them from further exploration of their own voice. Grammarly doesn’t inspire students to write but makes English a chore or a math equation you can cheat on using Google. Cultivating the idea that there can only be one answer to the English language from a young age could be killing aspiring authors. Why are we to think alike through Grammarly, when it’s a writer’s duty to bring new light and attitude to the table? Perhaps one of the most harrowing trends to come out from the present era is young people’s need to fit into a cookie-cutter mold. Whether it be using repetitive jokes from TikTok, dressing in the same North Face jackets, or watching the same films, it’s a snug blanket of conformity. But always expecting to execute or receive a similar product is detrimental to students. What plastic surgery is to an insecure person, Grammarly is to a young writer. We mindlessly click on Grammarly’s suggestion box, carving out any texture and color that makes our text riveting.

Design Studio and Food Science students collaborated to make their own hot sauces for their Farm to Label unit. Students sourced ingredients and designed their own labels, then came up with their own recipes with the help of cafeteria staff. Teachers were then selected to judge students’ creations, and there were more than a few spice-induced tears spilling onto the ground.

To disprove Grammarly’s spurious claims that it improves your writing, there is a short experiment anyone can conduct. Take any engrossing article written by a well-known journalist —a New York Times opinion piece, for example— and plug it into the Grammarly site. The software will bombard you with corrections antithetical to the unique style of the journalist. With this experiment in mind, it’s important to acknowledge the role of Grammarly: it is an artificial tool.



Interwoven Stories Miranda Liu speaks to Asako Serizawa ’92 about the influences behind her critically acclaimed novel Inheritors. Photography: Webb Chappell



Sometimes you read a book you just have to tell people about. That was the case for our high school librarian, Tracie Landry, when it came to Inheritors by alumna Asako Serizawa ’92. A unique work of fiction somewhere between a novel and a collection of short stories, “it has been my favorite book of the year,” Tracie raves, eagerly sharing with us about how she couldn’t put the book down. Ruth Harimoto ’77 (AP ’03–11) who works in the Health Center agrees. “The book was so intriguing that I couldn’t put it down. After finishing, I started at the beginning and read it again!” she gushes. “I have been recommending it to friends and family over and over again. It is a must read.” And not only did it receive praise from the ASIJ community, it also garnered critical acclaim from the likes of The New York Times, NPR Book Review and more. Ethan Chatagnier of The Kenyon Review calls Inheritors “powerful” and “intelligent,” deeming it “a book that deserves to become a crucial pillar in the literature of war.” Part of what makes Inheritors such an interesting read is its unique method of storytelling. “When I learned about World War II in high school, everything was limited to this very linear sort of narrative,” Asako says of her inspiration to write the book. “There were no personal stories of those who lived through the war and the occupation. It made me want to know, what were those people’s actual experiences?” And so Inheritors focuses on just that, utilizing various narrators over the course of more than a century through non-sequential short stories that slowly illustrate a larger narrative about Japan and Japanese Americans through World War II to the near future, with its latest story set in 2035. “Historical fiction often shines a light on the experiences of a single narrator and a specific set of events, but the events in Inheritors’ interwoven stories emerge as light from a prism bent differently by each narrator’s life experiences,” Tracie expresses. “The overall result is both intimate and epic.” The focus on different experiences of the characters— those who were raised in Japan, those who immigrated to the United States, those who were born in the US but struggle with their Japanese identity—spoke so strongly to members of the ASIJ community for a reason. Having grown up in three different countries before settling in Boston, Asako strongly relates with the struggle for finding one’s own identity as a third culture kid and the lack of sense of belonging in any country. Born in Japan, Asako’s family moved overseas when she was just one year old, heading to Singapore for her father’s job with a construction company. They were there for a decade before moving to Jakarta for another five years, and then back to Tokyo when Asako was in the middle of 10th grade.



“It was hard, I have to say,” Asako comments. “When I left a school for the first time in the middle of middle school to go to Jakarta, I was actually ready to make a change. I really wanted to move and have a fresh slate to be a new person. But moving in the middle of high school was pretty hard, because I had a core group of friends at that point.” While moving in middle school had felt like a chance to develop a new identity, moving away from the familiarity of her support group and making new friends in Tokyo proved challenging. “It comes up in various ways, this idea of not belonging,” Asako shares. “The cultural aspect is probably the hardest, because I speak both English and Japanese fine, but there are cultural gaps because I didn’t grow up in either the States or Japan. I don’t have the cultural references. TV, music, radio… those are such a crucial part of forming bonds and building community with others, and if you’re missing that part, sometimes, it’s hard to make small talk or connect with others.” But there were upsides, as well. “When I got to ASIJ, I found that some friends from Singapore ended up being there as well,” Asako reminisces fondly. “I saw them, and was like, wait, who’s this familiar face? So on the other hand, that sort of thing can happen, which is fantastic.” Connections (and missed connections) are another central theme of Inheritors, another aspect which has roots in Asako’s own experience. But perhaps the largest impact on Asako’s inspiration for Inheritors was the way she came to understand Japanese history through the course of her education. “Because I grew up in Southeast Asia, there was obviously a lot of Japanese influence in that area, particularly those countries that were occupied during World War II. But I didn’t really know much about the history, partly because the education at that time was so Eurocentric,” Asako shares. She enjoyed the available aspects of Japanese culture during her time in Singapore and Indonesia, but it wasn’t until she came to ASIJ that she really gained a full understanding of how that culture had made its way to those countries. “It’s really when I came back to Japan and took the Japan Seminar course at ASIJ that I got to see history from that perspective,” she reflects. “Japan and Asia were suddenly in the front and center in class, and all of a sudden, I got a better sense of Japan and its context in the world.” It was Japan Seminar that really got Asako thinking about the historical events that would become the basis for Inheritors. “It opened me up to thinking about Japan’s role in the world in a way that I hadn’t previously,” she reflects. “It’s interesting because in Japan, the Pacific side of the war is so prominent; it’s such a touchstone. There’s all this talk around it. And yet, my grandparents who lived through the war and my parents who lived through the occupation never told me their personal stories. They would talk about the war in general, you know, ‘war is bad’ and all of those things, but they never really elaborated. And so



that silence became really curious to me.” The more Asako thought about the lack of personal narratives about World War II from those close to her, the more she realized what an important issue it was to her, both personally and in a greater societal context. She never got a real answer as to her grandparents’ experiences with the war, which made her feel all the more like the dearth of narratives from various perspectives of those who experienced the war firsthand was a gap that needed filling. “I think coming to Japan and realizing that there were very particular narratives about the war, but that it was so one sided and very limited to a very deliberate, particular narrative was an important point for me,” she shares. “So much of the material in English was western-centric, or America-centric. All that sort of combined to make me think, this war was so influential—it’s so much a part of the structure of our society and it still stands between so many people. It changed history. And yet there’s so little about it from certain perspectives.” It was an issue that continued to stick with Asako long after she left ASIJ, through college, part of a PhD program in literature, and a switch to an MFA in creative writing. “I didn’t think I was going to pursue writing fiction as a serious thing,” she admits, looking back on that time. “My background is in the academic side of literature, but I got really burnt out. So for a few years after I finished my master’s, I didn’t write.” But it continued to bother her that the experiences of so many people like her grandparents never made it to mainstream modern audiences, and eventually, she felt that there must be something she could do about it. “And that’s how I came up with the project for this book,” she shares, “which is also when all the aspects of my education sort of came together. I could use my academic background as well as my creative interest to figure out a way to center the human experience while maintaining a sort of critical tension.” It was a unique approach, but Asako felt that her background made her the right person for the task, from her well-rounded study of literature and writing to her passion about the content. “All of those things came together in Inheritors as a work of fiction.” But once she got started, completing such a long and complex work wasn’t an easy task. In fact, it took over 12 years from the starting point to publication, including all of the required research before she even began to write. “Part of the reason it took me so long was that I did a novel’s worth of research for each of the thirteen stories that make up the book, and then I spent so much time typing to puzzle it together,” she says. And it wasn’t just that the research was time-consuming—some of it was literally impossible at the time that Asako first began to work on the project. “There’s a lot of history, a lot of material that wasn’t available to me at first. And then as things became declassified and the internet expanded, it allowed me to access new information. So then as that came in, I had to kind of revise things and rethink things.”



It might seem difficult to stay motivated to finish such a daunting project spanning over a decade, but Asako wasn’t swayed from the task. Watching world events around her and considering how they tied back or related to World War II, she was all the more determined to finish the book. “All of these things going on in the world made me think how important this history was. That was a large part of the motivation,” she shares. The other piece was a strong passion for the arts and the way they impact people. “Books and the arts were so formative to me, and I felt like this project was the best way I could use my strength to do something I felt passionately about,” Asako reflects. “I almost gave up many times, but ultimately, it felt really important to do it this way. Because you can read about things in the news, for example, but to really understand something, you have to go to the arts.” The power of literature to touch people’s emotions and move them to the core was what Asako wanted to harness in this project in order to bring an important message to the forefront of readers’ awareness. “It felt like if no one else is doing something, then I have to, and writing was something that I could do.” Asako cites Shusaku Endo as an author whose works particularly influenced her. “He has such integrity,” she comments. “His ethical stance is so clear, and he’s also so compassionate. He writes to understand a situation, which resonates with me.” Endo is perhaps most well-known amongst Western audiences for his 1966 novel Silence, which served as the basis for the 2016 Martin Scorsese movie of the same title. His works are heavily inspired by his childhood experiences living overseas and then as a religious minority in Japan, often focus on the stigma, isolation, and the experience of being an outsider or foreigner. They also universally tackle the complexities of morality in life, themes which can also be seen in Inheritors. Outside of Endo’s works, Asako also shares that she was influenced by her classes at ASIJ. “I took this English class at ASIJ that focused on modernist literature, which was my first introduction to existential thought. That was very formative in the way I look at the world and my own life, and I would say that was a huge influence that persisted in me,” she says, thinking back to her time in Tokyo. “Actually, I feel I was blessed with teachers at ASIJ, because all of my English classes were very formative, as well as the Japan Seminar.” Another class that was influential to the development of her writing style was, unexpectedly, French. “My French class was incredible,” Asako reminisces. “The teacher made us write these journal entries that were personal responses to what we were reading in class. But it was also a space where you could bring your own life into the writing, to write in a way that really put yourself into the material, and that was amazing to me.”



Back in her current home of Boston, MA, on the opposite side of the globe from ASIJ, Asako is working on her next project from the home that she shares with her partner, Matthew, who is also a writer. The couple work on totally different schedules, with him writing from 6am to noon while Asako sleeps, and then Asako writes from midnight to around 6am while Matthew is in bed. “It works out,” she shares with a laugh. “We occupy the house at different times, in different ways.” Their writing styles also differ but fit together well. “Matthew shares work all the time—we often talk about his work, while I tend to be more solitary, just because of the way I write,” Asako explains. “He produces drafts, whereas I write one draft slowly, brick by brick, and revise during the process. So we take about the same amount of time, but he’ll produce seven drafts, whereas I’ll produce one.” Next up is a continuation of her work on Inheritors. “At the end of writing this particular book, I realized that there was so much about this history that I hadn’t touched on. And so Inheritors became one of four,” Asako shares. “I really hope this one doesn’t take another 12 years… hopefully half that time, or less!” While it’s unusual to see books in sets of four rather than the more common trilogy, Asako feels that format is an important element of the series unfolding in her mind. “The first one was sort of an overview, or an introduction to this history that spans time,” she comments of Inheritors. “But there are so many other components that I never got

to talk about, or to approach from a different angle. I want to really get into some of the other themes that I think are present in this history, and then sort of circle back around to Japanese national myths. I’m planning it such that it kind of circles back to the first book—it kind of goes around and then comes back around.” But even if it does take another 12 years, Asako is determined to make it happen. “My advice to anyone wanting to pursue writing is to really figure out what your strengths are, and what you really care about, and then to have the courage to do it,” she shares candidly. “There are a lot of obstacles to being a writer, but if you believe in it, and if you really want to do it, you can find ways of doing it.” Reflecting on her own perhaps unconventional trajectory, she adds, “I think that nowadays writing is so professionalized that you’re led to believe that there’s one way to go about being a writer and ‘make it,’ or whatever the term might be. But that’s not true. You just have to find a way to do it that’s your own.”

international school experience. Of course it’s different from an immigrant experience, or certainly a refugee experience, but it made me feel an affinity to people who are displaced in one way or another,” she reflects. “I don’t have a national investment in any way—I’m interested in coexistence as a whole. And I think it’s because of the international school experience that I have this desire to really understand people and try to bridge these gaps between people. It’s a fact of life when you go to an international school that you live among lots of different kinds of people with lots of different perspectives. And I think that’s crucial in our world.” That sense of belonging, or not belonging, can be complicated but Asako recognizes that, “there are great things about the fact that you can be anywhere, really, because there is a sense of belonging wherever you are.”

“I think people who go to international schools have a special experience, and you can really bring that unique perspective into your writing,” she continues. “You have the advantage of having lived in so many contexts; you’ve been constantly immersed in a certain kind of diversity.” It was definitely an integral part of defining who Asako is as a person and a writer. “There’s something unique about the



Tell Us Everything Erika Krouse ’87 talks to Miranda Liu and Matt Wilce about her new memoir. When you hear the words “private investigator,” it might bring to mind trench coats, wide brimmed hats, and perhaps even a silent, tense, black and white scene straight out of film noir. But when Matt Wilce and I spoke to Erika Krouse, ’87 about her most recent book, a memoir about her time working as a PI for a landmark sexual assault investigation, she was anything but dark and moody. Over Zoom, she greeted us with a warm smile from her well-lit home, and immediately engaged us in friendly conversation. Even virtually, it was immediately apparent that she is the kind of person who makes others feel at home. And it’s not just us—Erika became a private investigator because her face “is the kind of face that makes people want to confess, to tell her their deepest secrets.” It is a trait that prompted a lawyer to offer her a job working as a private investigator on the spot when he met her by chance in a bookstore. “I think it’s a writer thing,” Erika admits. “We just sort of omit this ‘tell me more, tell me more’ kind of vibe to people.” That encounter launched the series of events chronicled in Tell Me Everything: The Story of a Private Investigation. Erika moved to Japan in 1982 when her father got a job at IBM and spent grades 8 to 11 at ASIJ. One of her fondest memories of her time at school is the infamous modular schedule system, a unique scheduling system centered around 15 to 20-minute blocks implemented at ASIJ from the mid-60s to the early 90s. “It was the best thing in the whole wide world,” Erika shared with us excitedly, her eyes lighting up at the mention of the word “modular.” “You could choose your teachers. You could choose when you had your classes. You could coordinate with your friends to



be in the same classes. I had all this free time, like college, and I could use it for my own projects. It was utopia, I’m not kidding.” But unfortunately, Erika was forced to leave modular nirvana and return to the US for her senior year of high school. “It was terrible,” she recollected. “I had to go to school in a very small town in New Jersey, and the very first American I spoke to after moving back asked where I was coming from. I said Tokyo, and she asked if that was in China. I said ‘no, Tokyo Japan,’ and she replied ‘yeah, Japan, like in China.’ And I was just thinking, this is not going to go well.” To be fair, ASIJ was a hard act to follow. “It was so amazingly international,” she recalled. “Everybody is there together from all around the world having this amazing experience, doing ceramics and music during their four hours of free time in their schedules, and then I had to go back to people who thought Japan was a part of China.” ASIJ had a profound impact on Erika, from the atmosphere and environment at the school to Japanese culture in general. When we asked about an unusual decoration on her wall, she sheepishly admitted that it was a sai, a traditional weapon from the Okinawan martial art form kobudo. “I studied karate and kobudo here in Colorado,” Erika commented. “It started out as a way to connect with people speaking Japanese again, because honestly, I missed it.” From her delightful and friendly energy to her unusual wall decorations, it was a blast to speak with Erika about her unique experiences, starting with her time at ASIJ.

Photography: David Manak, Northern Glow Photography THE AMBASSADOR \\ SPRING/SUMMER 2022



Did you star t writing while you were in school?

Yeah, I wrote on the train to ASIJ really frequently, and before that, the bus, because it was a long trip out to Chofu. I lived right in the middle of Tokyo, so I’d constantly be writing while in transit. Something that really inspired me to keep it up was a friend of mine at ASIJ who also liked to write. We started trading short stories, and hers were better than mine by a lot, but it was still kind of fun. With all that free time that we had in the modular system, when I was alone, I would just go to the library to write or read stories. In fact, I remember reading modern short stories for the first time during my free time in the ASIJ library.


I also started keeping a journal when I moved to Japan, because I knew that this was an experience that wasn’t ever going to happen to me again. I really wanted to write down every cultural detail that I noticed and every experience that I had that I wouldn’t ordinarily have in the States. So I kept a pretty active journal, and I wrote in it every day—often several times a day. So I think Japan really did start me off on the path to writing.


Did you write for any student publications? No. I was so shy, I would never have shared anything I wrote, except for with that one friend.

How did you go from writing being very private MW and personal to doing it professionally? What was the tipping point for you to decide, “this is something I want to share”? Surprising, right? Well, after secretly writing for a while in college, when I was 19 or 20, I woke up one morning, and the first thought in my head was, I want to write books. I’m not kidding, it seriously went like that. I was still half asleep and I opened the door and my good friend was studying in the hallway. And I said, “Aaron, I want to write books.” I still remember him with his highlighter looking up at me like I was nuts and saying, “So go write books.” And then he went back to his studying and I went back to my room. It still took me a long time to write a book after that, but it was like this aha moment for me. I guess it’s because I love reading and I always have, and I have the kind of personality where if you like something, you want to make that thing.



Who do you read for pleasure? What’s your go-to genre or author?

I know this is geeky, but I really love the classics. But I also like a lot of contemporary writers. I’m in a pretty thriving literary community here in Colorado. There’s a nonprofit called Lighthouse Writers Workshop, and there are about one hundred regular faculty in it. So we




read each other’s books a lot. And then there’s a lot of visitors who come in and we read those books, too. So for me, it’s almost like it’s either literature that is from just yesterday or from a hundred or more years ago.


So what was your pathway to beginning to write professionally?

I didn’t really take a straight path. I started out with poetry because I didn’t have a lot of confidence in my ability to write very much. The thought of a novel was very intimidating to me. Even the short story form was really, really intimidating because it has to be so tight, you know? So I started with poetry… and I kind of got hazed out of poetry! I got a master’s degree in poetry, but my peers would write comments about my work, like, “Why are you making me read this garbage?” Just really mean stuff about my work.


So eventually I thought, “Well, I kind of stink at this. Let’s try some fiction.” So from there I moved on to short stories, and I had a lot more luck with those. I started getting my short stories published in various places like The New Yorker and The Kenyon Review, and I published a collection of short stories called Come Up and See Me Sometime, which did very well. Well, very well for a collection of short stories. None of them do that well. If you get like five thousand readers ever, with short stories, you’re like, “whew.” So that was really happy for me. And then wrote a novel… and my novel bombed. So I had a collection of short stories and that did very well and then my novel just did terribly. It didn’t sell well at all, and people didn’t like it that much. But I just kept going, and I kept writing short stories, and then I moved on to this. This memoir came out of an essay that I wrote for a magazine called Granta. And then when I was writing the essay, I realized I just had a lot more to say that I hadn’t said about the whole story. The essay was fine for an essay, but I knew there was more. I knew I had to do more so. So then I wrote a proposal and then it sold, and then I wrote the book, and then here we are.


How was it transitioning from fiction to nonfiction? This book has personal stuff in it, as well as other people’s stories—how was that writing experience?

It’s horrible. No, I’m just kidding, but it is so different. I teach writing, and I’ve taught writing for 27 years, and before I wrote a memoir, I used to tell memoirist students, “Oh, it’s the same as a novel. It’s just about telling a story. That’s all you have to really worry about—worry about the rest later.” And then I wrote a memoir and I suddenly realized, oh my god, it couldn’t be more different. It’s so different. You have to worry about so much because what you’re writing is true. And in my case, I’m writing about something incredibly controversial and almost everybody is still alive. So the legal worries alone are just incredible.


With my novel, I spent probably like 20% of the time writing, 75% of the time revising, and 5% of the time editing. But with a memoir, the writing and revising process was really fast, because I knew everything. I didn’t have to make anything up. So I spent maybe 25% of the time writing and revising. And then 75% of the time was editing and just working with the words. I had to make sure that I wasn’t disparaging anyone unnecessarily or misrepresenting the facts. And then we had to go through legal reviews. The whole process of editing the piece was just ridiculously long and complicated. And I’ve talked to so many nonfiction writers since, and they basically told me, “Yeah, the problem with nonfiction is how meticulous you have to be.” So by the end of the process, you really want to just throw up all over it because you know it a little too well and you’ve belabored every word three or four times. So it’s definitely really different to writing fiction. In a story like this, you’re telling parts of your own life story, but also other people’s stories. Do you feel any sort of responsibility towards the people featured both positively and negatively? How do you ethically navigate that side of it?


Again, that’s part of that editing, right? The back and for th ques tioning ever y thing with the representation of real people. With the survivors of the sexual assaults, my number one priority was to disguise them and keep them safe because at the time they were not safe. My understanding is that some of them were getting death threats from rabid fans of the sports team involved, so I had to disguise them to the utmost of my abilities. And then strangely, the perpetrators I had to disguise, too, not because I was as concerned about their anonymity, but because if they were to be exposed, it could expose a survivor, just by nature of association. So that was a big concern for me. I would wake up in the middle of the night and say, “Wait a second, what did I say, did I let slip this person is X kind of athlete or from Y town or, you know, was moving in a certain direction of the country?!” All those things would give me serious nightmares.



So you’re writing nonfiction, you’re writing facts, but then you’re having to disguise facts. That seems like a kind of counterintuitive thing to do. It is!

Even understanding the reasons behind it, it seems like it would be difficult to shift from the kind of forensic attention to detail to get it right, and then having to turn around and invent a cover story.


It was a major headache. It really was. It was really hard because again, you’re trying to stay true. And I knew that no one was going to write about this case in this way again. So I wanted to be very true to the


case, but I also had to be mindful of the people involved. And, you know, I probably went a little overboard, because I didn’t have to disguise the university legally, but I did. And out of concern for the survivors. And there’s also the issue that this was a famous case. So if someone really wanted to find out about it, they could just go on the internet because that’s available to them now. So it definitely felt like I was giving myself brain damage over the whole process.


How did you come to take the role as a private investigator, which kind of set you off on this journey?

So I’ve often had the experience of people just spilling their guts with me, and I’ve been told by a lot of writers that this is really common for them, too. And then this happened in a bookstore with a lawyer, and at first he was a little bit shocked at what he was telling me. And then he immediately recognized an opportunity to make money out of it, and he hired me there in the bookstore as a private investigator. I had no skills and no ability to actually do the job. But I was sort of just feeling my way through the job just as he landed this amazing case. And really, it required a much more skilled PI than me. But in some ways it worked out probably even better than an experienced PI, because I was the right age, I was the right gender for that particular case, and it ended up being a really good fit.



What was the most surprising thing you learned from being an investigator?



I mean, part of the problem with becoming a PI is you get really jaded, really fast. But there was one thing that did surprise me, and I think it surprised some other people who worked on the case as well, from what I understand. And it’s that even when you’re working with someone that you don’t agree with anything they’ve done, you don’t agree with anything that they believe, somehow you can still feel a strange affinity with them. I won’t say affection, but I would call it an affinity, and that was really surprising to me sometimes. I keep reminding myself of that now in this age of political polarization. I’m very liberal, so when I’m talking to someone with a very conservative belief system, it can really start getting me in a bad place. But I try to remind myself of that time, like, “Well, when I was working on that case, I was talking to people who I really disagreed with and strangely enjoying their company.” So that was definitely surprising.



Now that you’ve written both fiction and non-fiction, do you have a preference? Would you do another work of nonfiction, or will you go back to short stories?

I think I’ll write essays in terms of nonfiction, but I won’t write another memoir, because, you know, your life doesn’t always fit that kind of arc. And this was a rare five year period of my life that fit a story arc very, almost completely. There are some parts that the fiction writer in me rebels at, some points in the book where I feel like, “The climax isn’t appropriate because X, Y, and Z,” but as far as a book of nonfiction, it still does fit that comfortable story arc for me. But for the future, I do miss the freedom of a novel. I miss being able to just make stuff up when it doesn’t fit, to make it better. And with nonfiction, if it doesn’t fit in the story that way, you have to sort of play with time in a way that’s very interesting… but the writer in me rebels. And my next after this is going to be a collection of short stories. It was part of a two book deal. And since I made that deal, I hate half of the stories in it, so I have to write new ones. So that’s where I’m going. Next is back to short stories, which I love.



I saw that your book got picked up by a T V production company. What’s happening with that?

So what we did is we sold an option. Those are pretty common. Not many get made, honestly. So I mostly feel like, if it happens, it happens. Great. If it doesn't happen, that's sort of expected. We're through the first year of a two year option. There’ll be another year option, and then after that they have to either buy the rights or let go of the option and then it could theoretically be sold somewhere else. So again, I think it would be great, but I’m




a writer. I just care about the book, really. And if an entertainment company develops it and makes it, I kind of feel like that’s separate from the book. I made my thing and they can make their thing and I don’t need to be involved. I feel like they can make whatever they want out of it, you know?


So you’re not really interested in doing the screenplay? You’d just hand that off? I don’t think I’d be qualified! Well, you weren’t qualified to be a PI, and that turned out well!

That’s true! Maybe I can fake my way through a screenplay, but I don’t really want to. I think they could do better than me, honestly, if they want a successful screenplay. Really, I do believe in giving other creative people the room to do what they do best and not trying to manage. I micromanage my own work ridiculously, I mean, my poor beleaguered editor has had to put up with enormous rafts of emails from me. But outside of my own little purview, I try and just let other people do their own thing.



Bringing it back to ASIJ for a minute, were there any teachers or experiences other than the modular system that left a lasting impression on you?

Yeah, I had an English teacher named Mr Frieden (FF ’84–86), and he was so wonderful. Even when I was sick, I would come to school just to go to his class, and then I’d spend the rest of the time in the nurse’s office. He really brought books alive for me and I still remember the books that we read in his class. And again, they were classics, but he had a wonderful way of making them relevant to our lives. And that was really great. And then the rest of my teachers… Well, I was kind of a difficult student. I was a prankster and I was, oh, you know, that one who sat in the back and made trouble for everybody else. And I really was an underachiever. So I liked certain teachers, but I’m very certain they did not like me very much!


And I also took judo with Ki Nimori (FF ’60–02). The lessons were with him and his teacher, who was like 80 years old, maybe five foot zero, and he could just kick everyone’s butt!


And finally, do you have any words of advice for any of our students who are thinking of pursuing writing?

Yes, absolutely. Notice everything. If you’re going to ASIJ, you’re having an extraordinary experience with some of the most interesting people that you’ll ever meet in your life. So notice everything and write it all down. Keep it. Keep notes, because you’ll forget later even the things that you think you’ll remember now. Try to notice


creatively. Notice things like what someone’s face is like when they’re not looking at you. Or, when someone says something, what are they not saying? What’s between the lines besides what they’re saying outright? What’s the air like? What are you feeling? What are you smelling? What are you sensing? What’s the light doing? Because wherever you go, it’s different in that way. So if you can stay open to your experiences and notice everything around you in a creative way, then it’s a simple matter just to put it on the page. And then from there you can make a whole world. That’s my best advice. I wouldn’t give that to other people, though. Because that’s ASIJ. ASIJ students are in an amazing environment. They have an amazing opportunity.


I don’t think they always realize how unique their experience here is going to be.

Right, at that age, how could you? Especially the long-timers, they must just get used to things after a while. But when you leave ASIJ, and people are asking you where Japan is, you know your life was really changed. You realize how much you gained from the experience. I know that it was such a rich experience for me and I don’t know who I would really be without it.




Unique Propositions Students present store concepts to UNIQLO for the high school Business Challenge

Sena Chang ’24 and Gaem Phisalaphong ’24 present their Terra UNIQLO concept

Following the success of last year’s Business Challenge, high school students were once again presented with the opportunity to pitch their ideas directly at a panel of professionals this year. Cosponsored by ASIJ and The America-Japan Society, the challenge, set by Fast Retailing, was open to all high school students with 24 students in eight teams signing up to participate. Fast Retailing, known for their UNIQLO brand, presented students with two scenarios with the majority of the groups choosing to tackle the challenge of opening a new UNIQLO store in Japan. They were asked to consider the location, justifying the reason for their choice and the concept for the store, taking into account the characteristics of the selected region. Students also needed to consider what new or unique services the store could offer. The second scenario focused on Fast Retailing and UNIQLO’s commitment to developing harmony with local communities and the customers who visit our stores. Students were asked to think about initiatives UNIQLO could take to contribute to local communities while overcoming difficulties presented by COVID-19. Each team created a five-minute pitch video, which was reviewed by company executives and the America-Japan Society team, who provided feedback to students before they selected five finalists to move on to the final round. On April 20, Mr Ichiro Fujisaki, President of the AmericaJapan Society and former Japanese Ambassador to the United States, welcomed the students, judges, and audience to the Business Challenge. ASIJ’s Director of Strategic Partnerships, Ryosuke Suzuki, who helped organize the event then introduced the teams, who made their pitches to the panel of judges.



William Michels ’24, Olivia Saroukos ’24, and Kiyomi Miura ’24 introduce their group’s pitch for a new store in Niseko

This year’s judging panel included Rina Okamoto from the Store Development Depar tment and Taichi Nomur a, Director of the General Administration and Employee Satisfaction from Fast Retailing. They were joined by current parent and alumna Deanna Elstrom ’86, who is the founder of Somi Insights, and Kazuo Okamoto, the Executive Director of the America-Japan Society.

Alexy O’Shea ’23 and Lisa Doerich ’23 explain to the audience on their Karuizawa proposal THE AMBASSADOR \\ SPRING/SUMMER 2022


The majority of the teams chose to tackle the first challenge scenario and pitched ideas for new stores. Their concepts spanned the length of the country with groups choosing Okinawa, Karuizawa and Niseko for their stores and included innovative touches that linked to each location. One team broke the mold and tackled the community engagement challenge, proposing their idea for a “Re Runway” fashion show featuring used clothing.

Sopheen Lee ’25, Suri Choi ’25, Emma Savarese ’25, and Kaito Kanazawa ’25 explain their Re Runway concept

While the judging panel deliberated, Noriaki Koyama, Head of CEO Office at Fast Retailing, talked with students about their work. The winner of the challenge were tenth graders Gaem Phisalaphong ’24 and Sena Chang ’24, who had pitched a concept for a Terra UNIQLO store in Karuizawa. Their detailed presentation even included an architectural model of their concept, which brought their vision to life. By chance, NHK World, who reported on the challenge, had followed the team through the process and interviewed Gaem and Sena following their win. Nadia Qazi ’24 and Erina Zhang ’24 present a concept for a sustainable store in Okinawa

Sena and Gaem are interviewed by NHK World on their win 20


ASIJ Alumni Impact Award And the winner is...

When we launched our inaugural ASIJ Alumni Impact Award early this year, our goal was to recognize members of our diverse global community and their achievements and we received an outstanding selection of nominations. As a result, the Award Subcommittee of the Alumni Council decided to present two awards this year—one in recognition of the positive impact a group of alumni has had on ASIJ and one to an individual who has made an impressive and lasting contribution to their chosen field. We are proud to announce that the recipients of the 2022 ASIJ Alumni Impact Award are the Thirteen Sisters. “It was very difficult to select the recipients of the first ever ASIJ Alumni Awards,” said Buddy Marini ’85 who co-chaired the award committee with Gary Yamada ’00. “It was interesting and humbling to learn about so many alumni doing such a variety of extraordinary things all around the world. We hope to continue to bring to light and celebrate some of our community’s efforts, work and accomplishments through this award.” Gary echoed that sentiment, saying, “I was touched to read some very passionate nominations,” adding that “many were written by classmates, friends, or family, and each submission was detailed and well-articulated.” He also noted that working with the school and the committee was also a pleasure. “Miranda from the Alumni Office made things run incredibly smoothly for the committee;



Members of the Thirteen Sisters on campus in April 2016 at the presentation of the first Strength and Courage Award

I think the process would’ve been much more hectic and stressful had she not been on top of everything. It was wonderful to see familiar faces and meet new people this year.” The Thirteen Sisters, the group of alumnae sur vivors of Jack Moyer’s abuse, received a significant number of nominations from their peers who wanted to recognize the impact they have had in bringing safeguarding to the forefront at ASIJ. “These women made a huge impact, not just for ASIJ’s students, but on many other schools as well,” wrote one alumna in her nomination of the group, acknowledging that the reparative steps ASIJ took as a result of the Thirteen Sisters work had implications beyond our own community. When ASIJ created a full-time Safeguarding Coordinator position, that in turn influenced other international schools who subsequently improved and expanded their own safeguarding programs. “I voted for them because of the impact they had on international schools in a larger sense,” committee member Kelly O’Brien ’02 commented. One parameter guiding the selection process is ASIJ’s mission and that was important to current faculty member ​​Susan Islascox in evaluating the nominations. “Compellingly, the 13 Sisters embody our core values of character, courage, and compassion; their commitment ensures that all ASIJ students are free to learn and grow within a culture of safety,” she noted.



Current Student Council President, Ellie Reidenbach ’22, who was also on the award subcommittee said, “I voted for the Thirteen Sisters because I felt inspired by the brave and strong women who came together, spoke out as one voice, and had the courage to do so after being ignored for so long. The Sisters continue to devote a part of their lives fighting for justice and change from ASIJ, which has profoundly impacted our school’s culture and future. Their courage should be honored forever.” Thanks to the focus on safeguarding at ASIJ brought about by the Thirteen Sisters, the school currently holds Level 2 certification from Keeping Children Safe and continues to work on embedding safeguarding measures and awareness throughout its operations. One thread that connected many of the Thirteen Sisters’ responses when they heard about the award was their focus on ensuring that the school is a safe environment for students. “ASIJ is clearly putting in the effort to take all of our experiences and ensure nothing like it ever happens again. And equally important, if there is such a claim, that it’s addressed and dealt with swiftly and strictly as to minimize future damage,” one of the group noted. “This is what we have been fighting for. The assurance that what happened to all of us and so many more, will never ever happen again.”

ASIJ hosted a safeguarding workshop in November 2019, attended by many schools from the region

Safeguarding Coordinator Monica Clear briefs her successor, Emily DeLeon, during one of their weekly meetings To that aim, Safeguarding Coordinator Monica Clear recently conducted training with all faculty on our safeguarding repor ting procedure and new software that allow for information to be securely tracked and shared with relevant staff such as herself, counselors and divisional principals. Although Monica will leave ASIJ to move to an equivalent role at Singapore American School, she is already on-boarding Emily DeLeon who will take over the safeguarding position at ASIJ. “It’s pretty amazing, really, to think back on this journey for us and for ASIJ,” one of the Thirteen Sisters commented. “In a world where so many positive changes stall, this is a great example of what can happen when people come together for the greater good.” Another of the group commented, “I am floored by the award and just so proud of where our collective work has led.” Out of respect for some of the Thirteen Sisters who requested to remain anonymous, their quotes here are used without attribution. “Processing the award is actually harder than I had anticipated,” one commented on hearing they

had been chosen to receive the award, “but seeing ASIJ bring this dark problem out into the light, acknowledge its gravity, and work hard for children’s safety brings even more meaning to our struggle.” “ASIJ has definitely not been the normal institution when it comes to these issues,” another commented. “Most won’t even say ‘I’m sorry,’ and yet you’re presenting us with an award. That truly shows that ASIJ’s priority is the safety of children in your care. I also feel cared for. Thank you.” Another noted that the healing process is long, adding, “but how many survivors can say the institution is actually a part of their healing process? That makes our situation unique.”



A Step Towards Sustainability Conner Takehana ’22 helps drive policy and moves ASIJ towards a sustainable future. 24


Back in the fall of 2019, a group of high school students and science teacher Mike Bell approached head of school Dr Jim Hardin with some ideas for increasing environmentalism. Living up to the name of their club, Student Action for the Environment (SAFE), leaders Mari Ishii ’22 and Conner Takehana ’22 advocated for a renewed focus on the school’s approach to environmentalism. That initial conversation quickly surfaced the need for a more robust environmental policy, as the existing policy had not been revised for about 15 years. “Since I had some experience with policy work with my involvement in the DEI policy last year, I naturally took on the role of spearheading this initiative,” Conner told us. Conner went on to work closely with key stakeholders to help steer the development of what turned out to be a set of related policies focused on sustainability. Along with Hardin and CFO/ COO Bhupesh Upadhyay, Conner consulted ASIJ’s incoming Director of Service Learning to get her perspective. “After talking with Claire Psillides, who is the Head of Environmental Sustainability at the UWC South East Asia [in Singapore], the idea of creating an institutional commitment to the SDGs came up,” says Conner, referring to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Adopted by all UN member states in 2015, the 17 SDGs are an urgent call for action by all countries— developed and developing—in a global partnership. They recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth—all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests. Psillides also advised the team that ASIJ should first develop an institutional definition of sustainability, resulting in a plan to develop this definition as the core of a set of new interrelated policies that will appear across sections of ASIJ’s Board Governance and Policy Manual. “My initiative team included stakeholders from the high school student body, teachers, the PTA, and administration,” Conner explains. This team was separated by division (High School, Middle School, Elementary School) and each division met separately and was steered by a division leader. “I would

create agendas every other week which were then given to division leaders,” Conner adds. “These division leaders would then have meetings with these agendas, relaying their brainstorming, writing, and feedback back to me through given documents.” Feedback cycles with the Systems Leadership Team, Board of Directors, school teachers, and HS students were also carried out. Conner, who has been a member of SAFE since he joined as a Freshman, sees an opportunity for the renewed focus on sustainability and the creation of new policies to really impact his fellow students. “Despite the enthusiasm for sustainability in clubs such as SAFE, something that could definitely be improved upon are the general attitudes of all ASIJ students toward environmentalism,” he notes. By surrounding our student body with environmentally-sound systems, curricula, and mindsets while they are at ASIJ, Conner is convinced there is bound to be an impactful change in the way our students perceive the importance of environmentalism as a result. “I hope this then creates students whose respect for the environment goes beyond just their time at ASIJ,” he says. “I think ASIJ is in a unique position as an educational institution. Beyond reducing ASIJ’s carbon footprint, I foresee these policies creating and motivating the next generation of CEOs and founders that will end up having a genuine impact on the environment. I am hopeful that the ripple effects of these policies will go far beyond just reducing ASIJ’s carbon emissions.” One invaluable lesson Conner learned from going through this process was what it meant to be a good leader. “In truth, I think anyone can draft these policies and present them to the board,” he says modestly. “I learned that the importance of a leader is instead the ability to gather as much input from as many stakeholders as possible. Distinguishing what is truly actionable feedback from input that may not be as effective in a policy was also an important skill,” he adds. “Understanding that this isn’t my policy or even my initiative team’s policy, but ASIJ’s policy was a crucial part of how the process was structured and was an even more vital lesson for myself.”



Thanks to the work of Conner and the many stakeholders who engaged with the project, the new policies were approved at the April meeting of the Board of Directors. They included an Amendment to Policy #3405 relating to the investment guidelines for the School’s Endowment and the following new policies. Policy #2215 Sustainability and the Sustainable Growth Goals which defines sustainability and embraces the SDGs as a framework that should inform the school’s academic programming and decision-making. Policy #3010 Procurement which directs the school to realign processes regarding budgeting, ordering, and procurement to ensure their consistency to the school’s focus on sustainability. Policy #7000 Environmental Policy focuses on our campus and operation, references ASIJ’s institutional definition of sustainability and places it in the context of our operational systems. The creation of these policies is just the first step in the journey to better embed sustainability and the SDGs throughout ASIJ’s campuses and programs. Next steps include conducting a sustainability audit and the creation of a steering committee of students and faculties at the start of the next school year to lead the school’s efforts to implement the new policies. Look out for more coverage of ASIJ’s work on sustainability and our new Director of Service Learning Claire Psillides in the fall.

Students recently started a Beyond the Plate initiative, where they aim to grow food for the cafeteria on the rooftop of the Creative Arts and Design Center



Conner joins the Systems Leadership meeting with Dr Jim Hardin to seek feedback on their definition of sustainability



Every day, every hour, I see my dedicated teaching colleagues working to improve the learning outcomes of our students, and my administrative colleagues balancing our available resources to provide the finest environment for both teaching and learning. The improvements are tangible, and our supporters are working diligently to ensure their continuity. They understand that schools that rely on tuition alone to improve the education they provide face two challenges. The first is keeping tuition as affordable as possible in order to maintain as diverse a student body as possible. While improving learning outcomes can make a school elite, allowing tuition costs to skyrocket in order to fund those improvements can simply make a school elitist. The second is maintaining any improvements during economic downturns. Hiring more professional educators and launching new and exciting programs should certainly improve learning outcomes, but if they are all dependent on uninterrupted tuition revenue, even a temporary economic downturn can mean losing those gains. The only way that a school can address these two problems is through the broad financial support of our community. I am happy to share with you that when we have asked, you have responded positively. Last year, 60% of faculty and staff and 25% of parents supported the Annual Fund; they, in addition to our alumni and other friends, gave ¥85 million; a record number that it appears we will surpass this year. As I write this, faculty and staff and parent participation are already above last year’s final numbers, and the Annual Fund already stands at ¥79 million (with over two months to go). Our goal of ¥100m is certainly within reach. While unrestricted donations to the Annual Fund help us meet each year’s budgeted goals, donations to the endowment are ensuring the long-term continuity of the gains that we are making. You can read more about the endowment and planned giving in the following pages. If you’re reading this and haven’t yet supported the Annual Fund, I hope you’ll consider doing so; whatever amount that is meaningful to you will be used with the utmost care and thanks by my colleagues to ensure that the pride you feel in ASIJ continues long into the future. Warm regards,

Clive Watkins Director of Advancement



ANNUAL FUND UPDATE Progress to Date ¥100M

Our Goal


We’ve Raised

Thanks to the generosity of our Ourcommunity, Goal we are pleased to share that we have raised just over ¥79 million for the ASIJ Annual Fund so far this year. Our goal of raising ¥100 million by June 30 is well within our reach, as is our We’ve goal of reaching 1000 donors — which Raised would be a first for ASIJ!





Thank you again to those of you who have helped support ASIJ and continue to demonstrate your deep commitment to our school. If you haven’t yet made a gift to ASIJ, there is still time to contribute and all gifts no matter the size combine to make a difference for our school. *Please note that current year numbers are as of April 21, 2022. Previous year numbers are end of year total.

Fund Year Fund Year 21/22 20/21

Fund Year 21/22

Participation Our Goal


Current Participants


Fund Year 20/21

Fund Year 20/21

Giving to an institution that is building a strong foundation for our kids, is my Our Goal small way of saying thank you. I believe that any amount of contribution goes Current a long way in providing the enriched experience Participants and education to our children. To encourage other parents to support me in this cause, and to better understand how the funds are used, I joined the PTA Annual Fund committee as a volunteer. I hope to see many more parents donating, and am excited to see how learning and development will be enhanced for our kids Fund Year Fund Year Fund Year in the20/21 years to come. 19/20 19/20





—Vibhu Jain Current Parent 28


Thank you to everyone who participated in Giving Tuesday on November 30 and helped us hit a record-breaking total of ¥28.6 million. Your generosity enabled us to beat our previous high from last year by ¥9 million and we saw growth in the number of gifts from all sectors of our community. We received 413 gifts for Giving Tuesday this year, exceeding our 2021 total, with close to 100 new donors choosing to make a gift. The largest increase came from our parent community. With your help, we look forward to continuing to grow our Giving Tuesday campaign. Please mark your calendars for Giving Tuesday 2022, which is on Tuesday, Nov 29, and look out for our messaging in the fall.


Total Gifts 300 218




Raised on Fund Year Giving Tuesday 21/22

¥20M ¥30M


Fund Year 20/21Raised on ¥17,643,910 Giving Tuesday

¥15M ¥25M ¥10M ¥20M ¥15M ¥10M

Fund Year 19/20 ¥10,084,296Fund Year 20/21 ¥17,643,910

Fund Year 19/20 Fund Year 21/22 ¥10,084,296

Fund Year 20/21 Fund Year 21/22


Fund Year 19/20

300 218

Fund Year 21/22

Fund Year 20/21

Fund Year 19/20

It is a pleasure for our family to be able contribute to the teachers, administrators, and programs at ASIJ and the ELC.

—Shane and Nao Predeek Current Parents, Black & Gold Society Donors




The ASIJ PTA Annual Fund Committee, established in the fall of 2021, is an active committee helping to build a parent community of giving. Members of the committee are ASIJ parents, who are advocates who spread the word about the ASIJ Annual Fund, answering parents’ questions about fundraising at school, and inviting other parents to support the Annual Fund.

Jill Kashiwagi ASIJ PTA Annual Fund Committee Co-Chair

Current parents may have noticed a change in PTA fundraising at ASIJ in recent years. The PTA no longer runs multiple fundraising events throughout the school year. Rather, all PTA fundraising for ASIJ is now done through the Annual Fund and events are focused on community building. The funds raised through the Annual Fund are then used in the current year to support enrichment activities that directly impact our children. The PTA Annual Fund Committee was created to support this simplified approach. Our committee’s goal is 100% parent participation to the Annual Fund. When parents come together, we create a community of giving which can enhance and enrich our children’s education. The committee focused on two giving campaigns this school year—Giving Tuesday in the fall and April Appreciation this spring. Both campaigns were opportunities for the committee to come together, reach out to families by calling, texting, emailing, and encourage families to give to the Annual Fund. April Appreciation was a new addition this year and tied into the PTA’s Faculty and Staff Appreciation Day on April 27. Parents who gave to the Annual Fund were offered the opportunity to write messages of appreciation, which the Advancement Office distributed to teachers and staff on Faculty and Staff Appreciation Day.

Nancy Michels ASIJ PTA Annual Fund Committee Co-Chair



Thank you to all the parents who participated in the Annual Fund during this school year! If you have not yet given to the Annual Fund, we invite you to join us and make your donation today. If you’re interested in joining our committee, please get in touch with us at

ALUMNI COUNCIL GIVING SUBCOMMITTEE ASIJ is an important part of my life. I met my future wife (Debbie Wissel ’99) at ASIJ, my three sisters attended ASIJ, my father served on the board of directors from 1997–2000, and my son attended first grade from 2019–20 during a job posting I had in Tokyo. Through my work as the President and CEO of the Japan ICU Foundation, I have collaborated with ASIJ leadership to facilitate a partnership agreement between ASIJ and International Christian University. My time at ASIJ as a student was a critical element in becoming who I am today, and my relationship with the school as an alumnus is important to me.

Paul Hastings ’00 Alumni Council Giving Subcommittee Chair

That’s why I’m very excited to serve as the inaugural chair of the Alumni Council Giving Subcommittee. Our goal is to support and encourage alumni participation in the ASIJ Annual Fund, a cause which is close to my heart. I strongly believe in ASIJ’s mission and value the diverse global environment it provides to young learners. We have a responsibility to ensure that the same meaningful experience is provided to the next generation of ASIJ students. ASIJ’s exceptional faculty—the teachers, coaches, and counselors that make the ASIJ experience so special—and its expansive, world-class facilities are made possible through the Annual Fund, and the school’s ability to continue to offer all of this and more to the next generation is only possible through the generosity of our community. One especially important facet of that community is ASIJ’s alumni. No matter where we are in the world now, ASIJ is a part of us, and we are a part of ASIJ, which is why alumni giving is so meaningful. Everything we enjoyed when we were students was available to us due to the financial support of those who came before us, and it’s up to us to give back to that tradition. But I can also understand that time and physical distance from ASIJ can make it hard to keep up. You might be wondering what exactly the Annual Fund is, or where the money goes. That’s why the Alumni Giving Subcommittee members are here to serve as ambassadors for the Annual Fund. Please reach out to the Alumni Office if you have any questions or want to learn more about fundraising at ASIJ. I’m looking forward to getting to know the alumni community better through this role and helping support ASIJ in its aspirations to equip the next generation for success as globally minded independent thinkers, empowered to make a difference.



ENDOWED FUNDS Securing ASIJ’s Future Through Endowed Gifts

How to Support Endowment

Our decisions to add personnel (such as a Director of Service Learning) and programs (such as more financial aid) is dependent on the confidence we are given by the school’s financial supporters.

W hat are t he o ptio ns, t he n, for supporting the Endowment?

And in recent years, the confidence that you have given us through ever-increasing gifts to the Annual Fund has been strong. Continuing unrestricted support of the Annual Fund is certainly key to allowing ASIJ to make improvements without raising tuition to an unacceptable level. However, relying on donations to the Annual Fund can be as precarious as tuition revenue, should there be a shock to the economy. It is for that reason that schools like ASIJ have an Endowment. In very basic terms, the Endowment is the school’s savings account; donations to the Endowment are invested and preserved, with only a portion of the interest used to fund operations. Donations are therefore meant to serve the school in perpetuity. Let’s examine what this means in practice. As an example, next year, ASIJ will add a Director of Service Learning (your donations to the Annual Fund have given us the confidence to add this position!). Let’s say that at some point in the future, there is an economic downturn that requires the governors of ASIJ to examine all expenses. All programs and positions that are not funded through restricted donations to the Endowment must be evaluated. But if, for example, a donor (or donors) had created a restricted fund in the Endowment that fully funds the position of Director of Service Learning, then there is no reason to evaluate that position — the funds can only be used to support that position. So, what are you passionate about that you would like to see funded in perpetuity at ASIJ? Service Learning? Financial Aid? Teacher Professional Development? Japanese language? Facility improvements? As you can imagine, the possibilities are endless.



1. You can donate any amount to an already existing, named fund (which are quite often restricted in use, although some are unrestricted); 2. You can donate any amount to the general unrestricted Endowment; 3. You can create your own, named fund, restricting the use (in consultation with the school). For option #3, the minimum amount to create a named fund (restricted or unrestricted) is ¥5 million, with the possibility to pay the amount in equal installments over five years. You can then add any amount to the fund at any time. While your continued support of the Annual Fund is our number 1 need, giving to the Endowment is an excellent way to ensure that your passions for the school are continued in perpetuity. If you would like to discuss these opportunities in more detail, please contact us at

The Strength and Courage Award Fund The Strength and Courage Award was created by the Board of Directors to recognize and memorialize the strength and courage of the survivors of abuse perpetrated by a former faculty member of the school. The current status of child safeguarding at ASIJ is a direct result of the strength and courage of those survivors in pursuing justice. That “current status” includes being the first school in the world to be awarded Level Two Certification from Keeping Children Safe (a registered UK Charity focused solely on child safeguarding). The award is presented every year to an ASIJ student (to be used for their future higher education) who has displayed extraordinary courage and personal strength in the area of service either in or out of school. It may be split amongst multiple recipients. The current award is guaranteed to be at least ¥1 million, but ongoing donations to the Strength and Courage Award Fund within the ASIJ Endowment means that the award will grow beyond ¥1 million, and that the award will live in perpetuity. You can make a gift of any amount, at any time, to the Strength and Courage Award. Please be sure to indicate the gift is to be designated to the Strength and Courage Award in the notes field.

Current Endowed Funds Alumni Scholarship Fund ASIJ Technology Fund David Nicodemus Bequest Edwin and Haru Matsukata Reischauer Fund Faculty Development Fund Financial Aid General Endowment Hoffsommer Memorial Fund John Sullivan Memorial Fund Ki Nimori Fund Munzenmeyer Memorial Fund Ray Downs Faculty Fund Ray Downs Scholarship Fund Reischauer Fund Strength and Courage Fund The Takakuni Go Fund

I understand the need for—and I support—the Annual Fund. However, I’m excited about the future of ASIJ, so I also appreciate the opportunity to make a contribution that will support ASIJ in perpetuity. It’s for this reason that I created a fund within the ASIJ Endowment. I encourage others to explore this possibility of securing the improvements that our school is making each year.

Vicky Downs Scholarship Fund

—Taka Go

Current Parent







Tokyo Reunion Tokyo, Japan April 3, 2022

It wouldn’t be spring in Tokyo without the brief window of time when the sakura cherry blossoms are in full bloom, engulfing the city in a sea of pale pink. To take advantage of the scenery, members of the Alumni Council’s Alumni Connect Subcommittee and Tokyo representatives, Deanna Elstrom ’86 and Eri Sumino ’14, had planned for a beautiful, sunny hanami picnic for April 3, 2022, but the weather had other plans. Luckily, with the help of alumni parents John and Antonia Boardman (AP ’06–10), they were able to quickly come up with an alternate plan. The group enjoyed a Thai lunch at Pepa Café Forest within Inokashira Park in Kichijoji where they could enjoy the view outside the restaurant windows despite the rain. Deanna and Eri weren’t sure what to expect when they planned this event, the very first of its kind through the new Alumni Connect Subcommittee, but they were amazed by the turnout. “We had a fabulous mix of class years, backgrounds and occupations,” Eri shared. Along with Deanna and her husband Peter, Steve Knode ’86 and his wife Sharon (AP ’18–21) made up the 80s contingency, while Daniel Fillion ’92 represented the 90s. From the 2000s, Crystal Chih ’08



and Rina Senbonmatsu ’08 joined the group, and along with Eri, Preston Boardman ’10 and wife Rie, Ryo King ’10, Miguell Malacad ’12, and Azu Ping ’16 rounded out the event with lots of participation from the classes of the 10s. The youngest member of the group, John and Antonia’s son Sebi, will be joining ASIJ for kindergarten next year! “We had a terrific time together,” Deanna remarked of the event, “Everyone went home with some very cool ASIJ swag as well.” “There was a lot of conversation and laughter,” Eri added. “And new connections were built.” Deanna and Eri are currently excited to plan their next event. If you’re interested, please make sure to join the Alumni Connect: Tokyo LinkedIn group for updates!




Breckenridge Reunion Breckenridge, Colorado January 14–16, 2022

Alumni from classes spanning from the mid 70s to the mid 80s and from around the United States gathered for an ASIJ ski gathering in Breckenridge, CO, in midJanuary. “It was fantastic,” reported Dean Kistler ’79, who organized the event with classmate Andy Skillman ’79. “We had a small intimate group with David Lund ’75 and his lovely wife Linda, Andy Lund ’81, and Caroline Gries ’83, along with Andy Skillman and myself in attendance.” The group enjoyed blue skies and great skiing, as well as fond memories of ASIJ and Japan. “The skiing at Breckenridge was fantastic. Some of us recalled how we learned to ski in Nagano, Japan,” Andy Lund commented. On Saturday afternoon, the group threw back to their school days with a delicious curry rice dinner together in their condo, made from curry supplied by Ken Chiancone ’75. “The home cooked curry rice dinner was a great treat,” Andy Lund shared. After the curry, the group enjoyed Japanese snacks that Caroline had brought for the group. On Sunday, the group enjoyed the slopes and one another’s conversation for a second day before heading home. “It was

a great event to combine nostalgic reconnecting with some very fun activities,” commented Andy Lund. “Thank you to Dean Kistler and Andrew Skillman for hosting.” “Some of us had not seen each other in 47 years. Hard to believe,” Dean remarked regarding the strength of the ASIJ bond that brought the group together again. The group plans to hold another ASIJ ski gathering on May 7–15, 2022, again in Breckenridge.



Virtual Reunion Virtual July 10 Mifumi Asano (


26th Reunion Chicago, Illinois June 24–26 Dennis Hudachek (



A Fresh Start A look at our reinvigorated Alumni Council. If there has been one positive side to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that it has given us the opportunity to step back and rethink various parts of our program, as was the case with the Tokyo Alumni Council. For many decades, the group had hosted local events every year, both Lara Tilley-Bouez ’01 joins a Giving Committee on and off campus, as well as volunteers devoting meeting from her home numerous hours of work to meetings and other initiatives. Thank you to the legion of local alumni who took leadership roles over the years and those The Alumni Connect Subcommittee will focus on bringing who participated in the events. With school events such as ASIJ alums together and strengthening both business and Spirit Day and Winterfest on hiatus and local restrictions due personal networks through our Alumni Connect programs. to COVID-19, the Tokyo Alumni Council’s normal activities They are involved in the planning and execution of our were out of the question. So then the question became, how Alumni Connect: Industry Meetup series, and they’re taking could the Council continue its efforts to engage the ASIJ a lead in our newly launched Alumni Connect: City Network alumni community without the ability to meet face-to-face? local groups. In fact, Co-Chair Deanna Elstrom ’86 served as moderator for the Alumni Connect special session on April 28, As we began to think about how virtual meetings and 2022, a fireside chat with Merle Okawara ’58. And members events had become more prevalent during the pandemic, of the subcommittee have already begun to hold events we recognized an opportunity to leverage this change to in their local communities, with Eri Sumino ’14 teaming up create a global alumni group that would allow our alums in with Deanna to plan a well-attended hanami event in Tokyo other countries to enjoy more of the social connections the in early April and Christie Samson ’00 welcoming Honolulu Council had provided for those in Tokyo. Several members alums to a lovely family-friendly picnic. See more about our of the Council offered to remain on the Board, while new recent Industry Meetups on page 38 and a report of the members overseas were nominated and asked to serve Tokyo social event on page 34. on the new Alumni Council. One significant change was the addition of subcommittees focused on specific areas The goal of the Alumni Giving Subcommittee is to support to broaden the groups remit beyond just social activities. and encourage alumni participation in the ASIJ Annual Fund. The committee has already been meeting with Director of In an attempt to better integrate the council with the alumni Advancement Clive Watkins and Director of Giving Claire program and maintain positive communication between the Lonergan to use their firsthand insights as members of the school and the alumni community, the renewed Council is alumni community to assist in planning fundraising strategy. made up of three subcommittees centered around three They also serve as ambassadors to the Annual Fund, and major programs within the Alumni Office: the Alumni Connect are here to answer any questions and address any concerns Subcommittee, the Alumni Giving Subcommittee, and the our alumni have about giving to ASIJ. Read more about Paul ASIJ Alumni Impact Award Subcommittee. Each committee and alumni giving on page 31. is dedicated to supporting and advancing its titular program, better aligning the efforts of the Council with those of the The ASIJ Alumni Impact Award Subcommittee has been goals of the School. invaluable during the inaugural year of our new alumni award. This committee has been heavily involved in the nomination




Alumni Council

and selection process, serving as the Nomination Committee and tackling the very difficult task of whittling down our impressive nominee pool to a shortlist. They also are members of the Selection Committee, where, along with members of the ASIJ leadership, faculty, and student body, helped to choose the recipients. For more about the ASIJ Alumni Impact Award, see page 21. “I have been involved with the Alumni Council for many years, and it has always been a pleasure to work with the ASIJ community,” says Rei Suzuki ’84. “I want to take a moment to thank the previous Tokyo Alumni Council for all of the hard work they put into alumni relations and events locally. I also want to say welcome and thank you to the new global members joining our new committees. I'm excited to see where this new stage of the Alumni Council takes us.”

Alumni Giving Committee Chair Paul Hastings ’00, whose wife Debbie Wissel ’99 is also an alum, attended ASIJ from eighth grade to graduation, and went on to attend Bowdoin College in Maine. The President & CEO of the Japan ICU Foundation, Paul serves as a valuable link between ASIJ and International Christian University. Paul spent a year in Japan for his work with ICU during the 2019–20 school year, during which time his son attended first grade.

Alumni Connect Committee Co-Chairs Deanna Elstrom ’86, currently based in Tokyo, arrived at ASIJ in ninth grade where she discovered her life-long love of writing, running and studying Japanese. She went on to attend Duke University and eventually became a beauty brand marketer in New York after a brief stint in Paris. Life returned her to Japan in 2013 where she morphed into a consumer insights researcher. In 2021, she founded Somi Insights, a strategic consumer insights agency. She’s also a parent of two ASIJ students currently in grades 10 and 11.

Brian Nelson ’85 attended the University of Southern California before embarking on a long career as an entrepreneur in Japan, including taking his company ValueCommerce public on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 2006. He is the parent of two ASIJ alums who attended from pre-school through tenth and eighth grades respectively. Currently located in Hawaii, Brian was one of the speakers at the inaugural Alumni Connect event in December 2020, the Alumni Council President from 1995–2000, and has served as a trustee since 1995.

Alumni Award Committee Co-Chairs Buddy Marini ’85 attended ASIJ from 1970–1973, and then again from 1982 until his high school graduation in 1985, where he was a drummer for the ASIJ Jazz Band. He then went to Lehigh University College of Business where he received a finance degree and the University of California Los Angeles where he received his MBA. He has spent his career in entertainment tech in Los Angeles, Tokyo and Hong Kong, working for Avex Entertainment, Hulu Japan, Supercell and startup Mangamo. Based in Tokyo, Buddy has been involved with the Alumni Council for many years, and his son Dylan attends ASIJ in the seventh grade.

Gary Yamada ’00 attended ASIJ from first grade through senior year of high school, except for two years of elementary school. While at ASIJ, he was co-captain of the cross country and track teams, president of the Kyogen club, and staff writer for the Chochin. Gary has a long connection to ASIJ, working as a Summer Day Camp counselor for several years and serving as a class agent since graduation. With a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a master’s from the University of Cambridge, he went on to a career in hospitality, consulting, and translating.




Alumni Connect

Staying Connected A look at the growth of the program over the past academic year and the unique opportunities it provides to alums to make meaningful ASIJ connections.

Since the previous issue of The Ambassador, Alumni Connect has grown and expanded in so many ways. While the program may have started as a stopgap measure to keep alumni connected during the COVID-19 crisis, it has evolved into a much-needed platform to maintain the network amongst ASIJ’s widespread alumni community around the globe, and with ASIJ itself. The foundation of the Alumni Connect program, Alumni Connect: Industry Meetups continue to be popular with alums from a wide range of class years, backgrounds, and locations. We are regularly joined by both recent graduates and alums from the classes of the 60s and 70s. “This was my very first Zoom meeting, and it went more smoothly than I was expecting,” Daniel Marsh ’66 shared with us after the December 2021 event. “I enjoyed it very much.” After the Fall 2021 issue of The Ambassador went to print, the Alumni Office hosted a fascinating session on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in the workplace. In a departure from previous sessions, this meetup focused not on a specific industry, but on DEI as it relates to organizations and the workplace in general. We were joined by Jesper Edman ’93,



an associate professor at Waseda University studying diversity initiatives in Japanese companies, Michael Minakawa ’03, a Senior Recruiter with Paramount whose focus is “to build diverse and inclusive teams with a people-first mentality,” and Emi Lea Kamemoto ’08, a DEI Strategy and Human Resources Consultant with Farzana Nayani Consulting & Training. They were joined by guest moderator and ASIJ’s Deputy Head of School for Learning Scott Wilcox, and enjoyed a fascinating discussion on the various ways in which DEI (or a lack thereof) can affect the workplace and best practices for implementing and improving upon DEI policy. “I was pleased with the panelists and the content discussed,” attendee Lucas Mendoza ’15 commented. “I serve on my company’s DEI committee, so I was especially interested to learn about how to apply DEI principles on an organizational level. I enjoyed the event and hope to attend another one in the near future.” The first event of 2022 focused on engineering, and was moderated by ASIJ’s Director of Technology, Warren Apel. Andrew Lund ’81, Chief Engineer of Toyota Motor NA Zero Emission Vehicles, Asami Tanimoto ’00, a Senior Community Program Manager at The Recycling Partnership, a national


Alumni Connect

non-profit in the United States focusing on improving the residential recycling system, and Appana Lok ’10, a Process Engineer at RV Anderson Associates Limited, a civil engineering consulting firm in Toronto, Canada, contributed to a lively discussion about their paths to engineering, the importance of engineering in education, and how engineering intersects with sustainability. “It was just the right balance of informative and casual,” attendee Deanna Elstrom ’86 remarked after the event. “I learned a lot!” Our April 28, 2022 session will once again be a bit of a change of pace. This special session will be a fireside chat with Merle Okawara ’58, known for being the first foreign citizen and second woman to list a business on the Japanese stock exchange. The event will be moderated by Deanna Elstrom ’86, who serves as Co-Chair on the Alumni Connect Subcommittee of the Alumni Council. They will be joined by Jason Cancella, ASIJ faculty member and teacher of the Syracuse University Project Advanced Intro to Entrepreneurship course, through which high school students receive college credit. Jason will moderate the Q&As throughout the webinar and provide insights to how entrepreneurship features in our curriculum. We are excited to round out this year with a chance to tap into the insights of such an extraordinary member of our alumni community. While the Alumni Connect: Industry Meetups continue to provide ASIJ alumni around the world with a platform to meet and interact virtually, the Alumni Connect: City Network region groups, launched earlier this academic year, are enabling alums to meet other ASIJ community members in their local communities. After our pilot launch of groups for New York, San Francisco, and Tokyo in December 2021, we quickly added three more groups for Boston, Honolulu, and Seoul in response to alumni interest in early 2022. These groups continue to grow and expand, and with the help of the Alumni Council Alumni Connect subcommittee, several regional events took place this spring: a hanami in Tokyo, a family picnic in Hawaii, and an outdoor gathering in New York are just a few of the gatherings organized by alumni in these regional communities over the past months. Don’t miss out on events in your region—use the QR codes on the right to access the group for your city, or contact the Alumni Office at and let us know what region you’d like to see added to our list! It’s amazing to look back and see how Alumni Connect grew from a small idea in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to a broad program helping alumni stay connected on both a micro and a macro level. We’re looking forward to another year of helping alumni connect in the 2022–23 school year!

Boston groups/14050778

New York groups/14010907

San Francisco groups/14013967

Honolulu groups/14051751

Tokyo groups/14011944

Seoul groups/14050779




Class Agents

Classes pre-1955 and those noted below need class agents. Please contact if you are interested.

1955 William L. Cryderman

1965 Scott Hutchinson Susan Broe Parmelee

1956 Mei Sun Li Sandra L. Maclver Thompson

1957 Charles C. Wu

1958 Class Agent Required

1966 Annie Nichols Campbell

1967 Grenda F. Penhollow Moss

1968 Nicholas D. Connor

1959 Class Agent Required 1960 David E. Bergt

1961 Class Agent Required 1962 Katherine C. Bauernschmidt Clarke

1963 William L. Martino Nancy Wu

1964 David Bonner



David T. Sakamoto

1969 Laura B. Hertenstein Swanson

1970 Daniel Garnitz


Kathy K. Kobata

1972 Linda Suzukawa-Tseng

1973 Class Agent Required 1974 Class Agent Required

1975 Reiko E. Niimi

1976 Elizabeth M. Yanagihara Horwitz

1977 Carl E. Sundberg

1978 Deanna Adams Smith

1979 Cheryl Wise

1980 Margaret Meiers

1981 Sherry L. Davis Tighe

1982 Lisa Bastick

1983 George Mimura

1984 Class Agent Required 1985 Sandra L. Orton Tweed


1986 Diane E. Stewart Wack

1999 Naomi D. Hayase Tamina M. Plum

1987 Robert L. Sharp

1988 Sergei P. Hasegawa Kathrine L. Schmitt Simon

1989 Linnea M. Hasegawa

Class Agents

2001 Kyoko Minegishi

2013 Lia Camargo

2002Anna L. Tuttle Delia Mitsuhiko Tsukimoto

2003 Tyler Beesley

1991 Maiko Galles

2004 Jason Mothersill

1992 Daniel Brandt

2005 Tatsuya Izumi

1993 Katherine S. Sakuma Moore

2006 Tai Dirkse

McMahon T. Reid

1994 Midori Kano

Mana Sasaki Kalohelani

2007 Carly Baird

Margaret R. MacCallum

1995 1996

Yuki P. Maddox Vos Hisashi A. Shimizu

1997 Vicky (Carter) Chen Sarah Godfrey

1998 Rose E. Hastings Kacie E. Rosenberg Leviton

Philip T. Tseng

2012 Seung Joon Sung

1990 Kentaro K. Relnick

2000Gary T. Yamada

Samantha Fritz Hurd

2011 Hannah T. Siegel

Rosalind E. Onions


Miles Bird Jemil Satterfield

2009 Caitlin E. McHose Ashley Teslik

2010 Janet H. Kanzawa Kana Maeji Andrew Deck

2014 Akira Camargo Sayuri Sekimitsu

2015 Mina F. Hattori Haruka Higo

2016 Ray M. Hotta

2017 Allessandra Rogers Andy Takagi

2018 Hikari Shumsky

2019 Kenichiro Bernier

2020Arman Balian Celine Maeda-Tarumoto

2021 Karen Fukuda Joshua Inahara

2022Nio Kwan Ellie Reidenbach



Artifact Battle of the Bands began life as Showdown in 1981 with just three in-house bands. It rapidly grew to be one of the stand out annual events of an era and by 1997 it featured 17 bands from a dozen different schools. The plaque shown here records the winning bands for the period 1981–95, although the event continued into the early 2000s. In its 90s heyday, Battle of the Bands often featured complex staging with video screens, all coordinated by the Communications Club under the direction of Bruce Bryant (AP ’86–’97, ’83–’85, FF ’77–’97). There were years that students were on TV promoting the event and one year, Bryant recalled they had a direct radio line to New York City and it was live in Tokyo being broadcast to the States.





Sayonara JUNKO TSURUMI (FF ’68–03, AP ’79–80) passed away on December 31, 2021. The daughter of Ken Tsurumi, a successful diplomat who served in the United States, China, and Singapore, Junko spent much of her youth overseas. She first came to work at ASIJ in 1968 in purchasing, and served as the manager of the purchasing department until her retirement in 2003. Tsurumi-san made many friends among faculty and staff alike during her time at ASIJ. “She was a friendly woman who was always positive,” remembered Minako Sugiya, a current ASIJ staff member. Tsurumi-san made many contributions to ASIJ during her 35 year tenure, but her most prominent legacy was the founding of Summer Day Camp, now one of the hallmarks of summer at ASIJ. The idea first came from faculty members Vince and Sue Totero (FF ’74–83), who met Tsurumi-san in the fall of 1974 when they approached her about having a brochure printed for the summer camp program they planned to host the following summer. “She enthusiastically embraced the idea,” Vince and Sue recalled fondly. “From that moment we became a team of three, developing a program for Japanese children which focused on fostering international understanding and cooperation.”

Vince and Sue soon found that Tsurumi-san’s contributions were vital to the launch of the summer camp, expressing, “her Japanese cultural sensibilities, her outstanding bilingual and public speaking skills, her business acumen, organizational abilities, attention to detail and sense of humor were invaluable to the success of the ASIJ Summer Day Camp.” Tsurumi-san’s husband at the time, Yasuo “Kappa” Tsurumi (FS ’85–’08) also contributed to the summer camp, working alongside Tsurumisan to make it a success. “Some 500 children enrolled the first year (1975) and by the time our team retired and turned over the program to new leadership in 2003, she had overseen the recruitment of tens of thousands of campers from all over Japan,” Vince and Sue shared. Each summer, thousands of children came to the Chofu campus each day and experienced American culture, many for the first time. “Tsurumi-san loved the day camp, where children came for fun but whose eyes were opened to a world beyond their own borders,” the Toteros recollected. And it wasn’t just a unique opportunity for campers; the Summer Day Camp became a rare chance for young English-speakers in Tokyo to find summer jobs, and soon became a popular summer employer of teenagers and young adults from many countries who spent the summer working as group counselors and subject specialists. In fact,




Noriko Saji (FF ’76–82, ’90–17), Nami Komaki, Emi Okumura (FF ’91–02), Junko Tsurumi (FF ’68–03, AP ’79–80), and Yasuo "Kappa" Tsurumi (FF ’85–08, AP ’79–80) pose for a photo in the bookstore in 1996 both Tsurumi-san’s daughter Emi Crandall ’80 and her granddaughter Angela worked at Summer Day Camp at different points in its history. The Summer Day Camp program, which now hosts over 3,000 campers each summer, continues to thrive thanks to Tsurumi-san’s efforts. “The program that Tsurumi-san and the Toteros created has become a tradition at ASIJ that has not faded away,” shared Minako, who first met Tsurumi-san in 1975 as one of the camp’s very first attendees and later was hired to work in ASIJ’s bookstore in 1984. “Tsurumi-san will be greatly missed, yet she lives on as future generations continue to enjoy summers at ASIJ,” the Toteros commented. Outside of her work with Summer Day Camp, Tsurumisan was highly involved with the school community. She loved events, and helped organize and host a multitude of festivals and bazaars over her 35 years at ASIJ. She was also instrumental in arranging the visit of the Emperor of Japan, as her brother had close ties to the Imperial family. During her tenure at ASIJ, Tsurumi-san made a positive impact on so many aspects of life at school. After her retirement in 2003, Tsurumi-san spent a year on the international Peace Boat, and met with Vince and Sue at one of its stops in New York City, where they were living at the time. “She staunchly believed in a world striving for peace among all nations,” they commented. Like many members of the ASIJ community, they stayed in touch with Tsurumi-san over the years, and last saw her in Hawaii in 2013 at a Summer Day Camp reunion. “The two of us are deeply grateful for her having contributed profoundly to our family’s lives,” they shared. Tsurumi-san is survived by her three children, including Emi, and many, many friends from her time at ASIJ. “She was a very unique and powerful person,” Emi shared.



Obituaries ROBIN ADAMS ’52 passed away on March 11, 2022 at 88 years old. Born in Galveston, TX, Robin Alford moved frequently during her childhood due to her father’s military service. During her sophomore year of high school, Robin and her mother moved to Tokyo to join her father, where Robin attended her junior and senior year of high school at ASIJ’s Meguro campus. It was at ASIJ that Robin met her future husband, Edward Adams ’52. After graduating from high school, Robin went on to Oklahoma State University and then Whitworth College in Spokane, WA, where she married Ed in June of 1955. In 1959, Robin accompanied Ed overseas with the Department of Defense and taught elementary school on military bases in Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea. In 1973, Robin supported Ed in his dream of building an international school in South Korea, Seoul International School. Then, in 1976, Robin returned to the United States with her three youngest children and settled in Edmonds, WA following her divorce. Robin continued her work in schools and Christian organizations in Edmonds until 1983, when she returned to Japan as a missionary. She spent the next 20 years working at a local church in Nara. After retiring from her missionary work, Robin returned to the United States and lived in various areas in the Great Lakes and Northwest regions. She is survived by her children and their families.

JOHN FREDRICK BARBER (AP ’96–2003) passed away on March 25, 2022. John received his bachelor‘s degree in mathematics and master’s in operations research at Union College in Schenectady. He then worked for General Electric, moving several times before a posting to Japan, where his sons Matthew ’02 and Andrew ’03 attended ASIJ. While in Tokyo, John was hired to set up AOL Japan, becoming its Managing Director. He retired from AOL in 2002. John is survived by his wife Susan and his sons.

BILL CALLAGHAN (FF ’76–83) passed away on January 1, 2022. Born in Detroit, MI, Bill moved to Kentucky when he was 11 years old and stayed there through the first part of his college career at the University of Kentucky. At the onset of the

ALUMNI Korean War, Bill enlisted in the Army and, after a year of intensive Korean language study, he was stationed in Korea as an interpreter. Upon his return to the US, Bill completed his bachelor’s degree and a master’s in Korean language. He went on to receive his JD from the University of Washington School of Law Japanese program and moved to Japan for an impressive career in law before the desire to return to teaching brought him to ASIJ, where he taught Japanese while his son Thomas Callaghan ’92 attended. He worked with Hugh Brown (FF ’65–83) and Diane Sakai-Furuta (FF ’82–83) to develop a program which would accommodate both long-term Japan residents and those who were only in Japan for a short period. After ASIJ, Bill moved to Osaka, where he stayed for 20 years. There he taught business and marketing at Kansai University of Foreign Studies. He retired from KUFS in 2003 and moved to his wife’s hometown of Bellingham, WA.

CHRISTOPHER CARLIN (AP ’84–93) passed away on March 26, 2022 at 73 years old. Born in Baldwin, NY, Chris earned a degree in Economics from Manhattan College in 1970 and shortly thereafter married Donna Williams. Following two years serving in the United States Army, Chris started his lifelong career at Chase Manhattan Bank. In 1984, he was offered a placement in Tokyo, where he lived with his family for nine years. His two children attended ASIJ, and Chris served on the Board of Directors from 1986–93. Chris and his family moved back to the United States and settled in Wilton, CT, and in 2011, Chris retired after 40 years with JP Morgan Chase. He is survived by his wife Donna, children Amy Carlin ’92 and Stephen Carlin ’96, and their families.

MARGARET GIBSON ’40 passed away on April 9, 2019. She was born in Tokyo, Japan to missionary parents, and attended ASIJ from 1935–40. After graduating from high school, Margaret attended Berea College for her bachelor’s of science degree in Home Economics, and it was here that she met Wallace Gibson, to whom she was married on October 28, 1943. Margaret then went on to receive a master’s in library science from the University of Michigan and taught in Richmond and L’anse Creuse Public Schools until her retirement in 1986.

Obituaries DAVID JASTRAM ’71 passed away on January 22, 2022. Born in Tokyo to Lutheran missionaries, Dave spent his early years in Niigata prefecture where he attended a one-room school for missionary children. When Dave progressed to high school, he moved to Tokyo to live in a dorm and attend ASIJ. It was there he met his future wife Lisa De Young Jastram ’74 when they lived in the same dorm during the 1970–71 school year. After graduation, Dave attended South Dakota University to be close to family, but transferred to Rhode Island University, where he graduated with a degree in electrical engineering. He went on to have a long and successful career as an engineer beginning with Dresser Atlas working in the oil logging industry, and traveled to China, the former Soviet Union, Finland, and Romania before settling in Aberdeen, Scotland, where he worked for several years. During this time, he began a long distance relationship with Lisa, and the two married in 1979 before moving to Houston, TX. There, they raised two sons and spent many happy years together. Dave loved playing guitar and played in a band called “The Fossils.” He also served as “the sound guy” for Lisa as she pursued professional entertainment and organized church music events—in fact, it was love of guitar that had originally brought Dave and Lisa together back in 1970. Outside of music, Dave carried a lifelong love of Japan and visited many times. Dave is survived by Lisa; his sons Eric and Andrew and their families; his siblings Jon Jastram ’68, Anita Frankenstien ’69, Dan Jastram ’74, Nathan Jastram ’76, and their families.

BRIAN KLEINJANS ’65 passed away in Liberty Lake, WA, on February 8, 2022. The son of Everett Kleinjans (FF ’52), the acting principal who supported ASIJ through its transition from military to civilian operation post WWII, Brian attended ASIJ from kindergarten through third grade and then again from grades 6 to 11. As his mother served on the board from 1962–67, Brian’s connection with ASIJ ran deep. Friends from his time at ASIJ remember him as the president of his class and a gentle, kind, and fun person. He was particularly well known for being the captain and driving force on the Mustangs varsity basketball team during the 1963–64 school year, leading the team to the 1964 Far East Championships despite the fact that, being the first year on the Chofu campus, the gymnasium hadn’t even been built yet and practices took



ALUMNI place on the Elementary School playground. After his family left Japan, Brian attended his senior year of high school in Holland, MI, before going on to graduate from George Williams College. He spent the majority of his career working in the furniture industry. Brian is survived by his children; his brothers David Kleinjans ’67 and John Kleinjans ’69; and his sisters, Monica Kleinjans Guckenheimer ’71 and Connie Kleinjans ’73.

NANCY KYLE (AP ’73–79) passed away in Bend, OR, on March 29, 2021. Nancy was the mother of Lisa ’76 and Billy ’79, and wife of Bill Kyle (ASIJ Board of Directors 1973–79), to whom she was married for more than 67 years. They lived in Japan twice, from 1951–53 and again from 1964–85, after which they moved to Hong Kong and then retired back to the United States in 1990. She is survived by her children and their families.


Obituaries from 1927 to 1933. Chuck attended Kindergarten and first grade at ASIJ before his family returned to the United States. Chuck received a scholarship to the Navy College Training Program in accelerated defense engineering and subsequently graduated from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) with a degree in electrical engineering. Within months of starting his first year at WPI, Chuck met the love of his life, Betty Louise Johnson; the two were married in the spring of 1947. After several years of military service in both WWII and the Korean War, Chuck went on to a successful career with Johnson Wire and Steel, General Electric, and Polaroid before ultimately starting his own financial services business. In his free time, He is survived by his children and sisters, Shirley Farmer ’40 and Mary Jane Miranda.

PAUL REED MAURER (AP ’11–14), longtime Japanese pharmaceutical industry champion passed away on August 30, 2021 at 83 years old. Born in Minersville, PA, Reed joined Eli Lilly and Company in 1964 and quickly rose through the ranks. He was tasked with launching the company’s Japan operations in Kobe, Japan, in 1970, a division he led and grew as Vice President until 1976. Reed then moved to Merck Sharpe & Dohme to run its Japanese operations based in Tokyo. Reed later served as Japan Representative of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PMA) from 1987–1993. He then started International Alliances Limited (IAL) in 1989. He is survived by his wife Yuko; his five children and their families, including Brett Maurer ’14.

MICHAEL NARAZAKI ’86 passed away on October 11, 2021 in Raymond, OH. Born in Hong Kong, Michael relocated to Tokyo with his parents and three siblings in 1969. Michael began his education at ASIJ in 1973 and graduated in 1986 before moving on to college at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. A car fanatic since childhood, Michael landed a job with Honda Manufacturing in Marysville, OH. He later transferred to Honda R&D, where he began to specialize in automotive interiors, and later in automotive instrument panels, co-authoring a number of patents along the way. Michael relocated to Honda’s North American headquarters in Torrance, CA, ten years later, and it was there in Los Angeles that he met and later married his wife. After transferring back to Marysville, he continued to dedicate himself to Honda R&D for the next 11 years, serving a total of 30 years with the company. In his free time, he loved outdoor activities such as camping and biking with his family and driving his prized possession, his Honda S2000 hardtop convertible. He is survived by his wife Miki and their children; and his siblings David Narazaki ’75, Georgine Prince ’80, and Theresa Narazaki ’83.

CHARLES “CHUCK” MITCHELL ’44 passed away on October 13, 2021 at 95 years old. Chuck was born in Kodaikanal, India, where his father was serving as headmaster of the Kodaikanal International School. Shortly thereafter, his father assumed the position of head of school at ASIJ, where he worked

JOHN ROBINSON (FF ’88–90) passed away on August 20, 2021. John was born in Ottumwa, IA, and attended Parsons College in Fairfield, IA and University of Northern Iowa, graduating with a master’s in social work. After working with troubled youth in Eldora, IA, and at the State Hospital in Mount Pleasant, IA, John decided to return to school. He earned a master’s in school psychology from


ALUMNI the University of Iowa and worked briefly as a school psychologist for the Grant Wood Area Education Agency (AEA) in Cedar Rapids before deciding to work as a school psychologist at international schools overseas starting in 1979. For the next 20 years, John lived and worked at international schools in five different countries including Belgium, Egypt, Japan, Bangladesh and Thailand. He worked at ASIJ from 1988–90, during which time he served as the Elementary School Counselor. John worked at a number of schools in and around Cedar Rapids until he retired in 2014.

TAEKO WAKAMATSU (AP ’69–83) passed away peacefully at home in Los Alamitos, CA, on March 3, 2022. Taeko was a skilled seamstress and for many years enjoyed sewing costumes for the ASIJ musical and Kyogen performances. She is survived by her children Ernest Wakamatsu ’75, Alan Wakamatsu ’78, Kathy Matsubara ’81, Joyce Kawaguchi ’83 and five grandchildren.

ROGER WAGNER ’72 passed away unexpectedly on June 18, 2020, at the age of 65. Born in Yokosuka, Japan, Roger’s family’s posting took him to Germany for many years before he returned to Japan and attended ASIJ from 1967–70. He moved to Thailand after his time at ASIJ, and was recruited to run cross-country at Yale University. Roger graduated from college in 1977 with a major in history and a minor in Japanese studies, taking a year off to teach English to Japanese students in Osaka. He then earned his JD from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1981. During his subsequent law career, Roger specialized in project finance, corporate contracts and regulatory advice to power generation, utilities and renewable energy system clients. He worked for several years as advisor to World Bank teams, as in-house counsel to a renewable energy subsidiary of a Fortune 500 company, and advising early stage energy and technology businesses. His work on as an advisor for public-private infrastructure project partnerships and companies took him all over the world; he facilitated a Japanese electric utility company entering the US market; a pioneer wind power project in the Texas Panhandle; a state electric utility in Andhra Pradesh, India; an Egyptian State utility; and Grameenphone, the number one mobile phone network in Bangladesh that brought mobile service

Obituaries to rural areas, among other projects. He was named one of the world’s leading energy and project finance lawyers by Euromoney magazine in their 2003/04 issue. After his retirement, Roger became a champion athlete in rowing for his age group; ranked 44th in the world for his 500m time in the 60–69 age bracket in 2018, he also won bronze at the Erg Sprints International Indoor Rowing Championships 500m competition that year. He earned five gold medals at the Northern Virginia Senior Olympics for basketball free-throw and rowing competitions and competed in his first sprint triathlon in Palm Springs at age 64. Roger is survived by his wife of 30 years, Anne Gray; his two daughters, Alden and Bayliss; and his sister, Katharine Wagner.

FORREST “WES” WILLIAMS ’86 passed away unexpectedly on February 13, 2022. Born in New Orleans, Wes moved to San Jose, CA when he was six months old. The family moved to Japan during Wes’s senior year and he graduated from ASIJ in 1986 before earning a bachelor’s degree in science and mechanical engineering and then a master’s degree in civil engineering from California State University, Sacramento. He met his wife Melody in 1992 while he was the student body president and she was appointed to the community affairs committee. Upon graduating from CSU Sacramento, Forrest began his professional career working for the Sacramento County Department of Water Resources in 1994. During his 25 years there, he was integral in the planning, design, construction, and operation of the facilities which bring surface water in the South American Subbasin and led the SCWA’s metering and conservation programs, represented their interests with respect to state and federal legislation and actively engaged in groundwater issues and served as the County representative on the Sacramento Central Groundwater Authority Board. In 1997, Wes and Melody married and had two children. Wes was a devoted father and, together with Melody, founded the Sundance Montessori Foundation at his children’s preschool and kindergarten. He was deeply involved in his children’s athletic endeavors, coaching their soccer teams and helping to found the swim teams for which the girls competed. Outside of his work and family endeavors, Wes loved mountain biking, music, and martial arts. Wes is survived by his wife Melody Smith-Williams; his children Jasmine and Rae Williams; his parents Forrest and Dorothy Williams (AP ’86–89) and his sister Carol DeGrace ’89.



The Big Short Big questions, Short answers

An experienced international educator, Tricia Apel joined ASIJ in 2016 from the International School of Amsterdam following postings in New Delhi and Cairo. Tricia teaches math in high school and her husband, Warren, is ASIJ’s Director of Technology. Where are you from? I grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana. What kind of student were you in school? I had a lot of energy so I would sometimes get in trouble for moving too much or not paying attention. However, in high school I found a passion for science and math which helped my focus tremendously : ) Why did you choose to go into education? I like school and I like people. Originally I wanted to be a veterinarian; however, I discovered in my zoology class that dissections were not for me—which pretty much took veterinarian medicine off the table. My next automatic reaction was that I wanted to be a teacher. If you weren’t a teacher, what would you do? Probably something to do with animals. I would work at a service agency like the Humane Society or some other organization that helps animals. I love watching pet groomers work. It seems like a really special skill that would take a lot of training, but it looks like fun. What is your favorite thing about Japan? I love the care and precision that goes into all aspects of Japanese life. What is your favorite thing about ASIJ? The people (the administration, my fellow teachers, the students and the parents)! What advice do you give your students? Be kind to each other! And do lots of math!



Which words or phrases do you most overuse? I had to ask my students this one. They pretty much unanimously said it was when I spell out “F-O-C-U-S.” I like spelling out words for emphasis. Which talent would you most like to have? To be a GREAT cello player. I played in high school and would love to be better. Who are your favorite writers? Anne Rice, Tom Robbins, and Margaret Atwood. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Ada Lovelace. She was a woman who pursued her passion for mathematical thinking despite the cultural norms for how women should think and act. Which living person do you most admire? Michelle Obama When and where were you happiest? I am and have been happy for pretty much my whole life and in all the places I have lived. However, I was really really really happy in the Maldives.

Who are your heroes in real life? People that fight for the equal rights of ALL people! (Harvey Milk, Edith Windsor, the Fab Five from Queer Eye). What is your most treasured possession? My cat, Boo Radley.

Illustration by Miki Katsuda

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