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In Medias Res So it is with great pleasure, that I now share with you some of the many ‘nuggets’ from my conversation with Michiko Kobayashi, Founder and Director of HumanThread Center/Gallery for Non-Violence, Arts and Education. The HumanThread Center and Gallery houses six programs all designed to help students recognize that our lives are endowed with limitless potential. The center hosts monthly art exhibits, Open Mic, afterschool programs, public discussion forums and workshops. Michiko Kobayashi has a MA in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago. Her corporate career experience includes 8 years in foreign exchange trading. She was chief administrator for a research institution. Michiko Kobayashi has also been a client services/business development representative at an international law firm, and event planning business partner, before founding HumanThread. She is a mother of two grown sons, both of whom work and reside in Dubai UAE. In Medias Res: To start, let’s talk about the place where all this began, your introduction to African- American history. Michiko Kobayashi: When I was around 14 and 15 years old my older siblings two brothers and one sister) especially my sister would share with me books about the civil rights movement and Dr. King, Jr. During this time most of my Japanese peers were into the British lifestyle, music, etc., but my brothers and sister were “unusually” into the African-American culture. Because of my ethnic background being half Japanese and half Korean in the closed, discriminatory society of Japan I found myself relating to the struggles of the civil rights movement. (For more information please refer to history of Japan and neighboring Asian countries such as Korea and China to understand the societal context that existed in Japan) I was particularly inspired by the resiliency and humanity of the people, and the messages spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in writings such as “The Strength to Love” and “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” My abstract ideal, then, turned into this idea of studying in the U.S. and live amongst “the people.” That was my “American Dream.” So when I was ready for college, I decided to attend a school with a low Asian population. I wanted to integrate outside of my native culture. Berkeley had a pretty large Asian population, so I transferred to Western Illinois University. That is where I met my first husband, whom I followed to Chicago, Englewood, and to finally Harvey, Illinois. It was during this time that I started collecting newspaper article and seriously cataloging how public education was failing our children and the nation as a whole. 46

Profile for Odyssey Project

In Medias Res: Vol. 2, Summer 2013  

The Odyssey Project's original publication featuring brand new fiction, poetry, reviews, profiles, interviews and more from Odyssey Project...

In Medias Res: Vol. 2, Summer 2013  

The Odyssey Project's original publication featuring brand new fiction, poetry, reviews, profiles, interviews and more from Odyssey Project...

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