Page 1

THE PEARL Soka University of America Student News Magazine

Graduation 2010

May 2010 Contents


Student Thoughts SUA’s Upcaming 10th Aniversary

“My spirit dances, knowing in my heart that those of you who studied at SUA will go on to fulfill your life’s highest calling over the next ten years, twenty years, even fifty years—a calling that is sure to be epic and wondrous.” SUA Founder Daisaku Ikeda

005 2010’s Plans for the Future 008 Interview with Newly Elected SSU EC 010 Apollo’s Ground: IF Edition Nicole Hirayama


Founder’s Corner Excerpts from Welcome Messages

015 Lost in Translation 016 Peace

A Series of Short Stories


write a letter to the editor! email

Cover Photos by Justin Kunimoto

disclaimer: Anonymous letters will not be printed unless otherwise approved by The Pearl senior staff. The Pearl reserves the right to reject letters and/ or columns and edit for clarity, brevity and accuracy. Letters represent only the views of their authors. Nothing on the Op/Ed pages necessarily represents a position of the The Pearl or Soka University of America.

017 Advice:

“I’m worried about my future”

018 Breakfast Music 019 Brazilian Wax

letterfromtheeditor Dear Friends, First, an excerpt from the introduction of Kaneko’s Story, on the life of Kaneko Ikeda, wife of SUA Founder Daisaku Ikeda: “Underlying [Kaneko’s] magnetic persona is the power of love. It might also be called the power of effort, wisdom, and character. Each of us has something in our own heart that enables us to find these qualities in another.” As SUA’s ninth school year comes to a close and each member of our class of 2010 is knighted SUA alumnus or alumna, I can’t help but feel an urge to reflect on, record and chronicle just what they’ve gotten out of their time at SUA. What are we all getting? A new flavor palette on our taste buds? An affinity for Furikake on our rice and Kiyoko-san’s lunches? Poor sleeping habits and an e-portfolio of intelligent papers on everything from US foreign policy in South America to Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development? Personal records and university precedents in sports? The ability to create a floor plan that can happily fit an entire university of students into eight dorm buildings? I think we can each confirm we’ve gained at least one of the above (or something similar), plus a little bit extra –perhaps a bit of confusion about what step to take next, and a happy tummy, for we’ve got cookies with our afternoon tea. We’re gaining the drive it takes to start a club and raise capable successors for it; the maternal stress that comes from planning a senior trip because we want each of our star classmates to kick back and have as much fun as we’ve been having these few years; the fatigue of “suffermore” year and the absolute, overwhelming elation that sets in upon its completion; the emotional rollercoaster that is study abroad, as we manifest our desire to recognize humanity in cultures and countries radically and ideologically different from home. I’m not sure how I’ll feel when graduation time comes for me; luckily, I’ve still got a year before I too have to figure out how to conquer the real world. But today, back from four wintry months in Shanghai, sitting in New York University’s coffee shop, searching for bits of humanity behind NYC’s artsy, indie-clad intelligentsia, I know my heart is and will always be at SUA. For it’s at SUA, from my peers, that I’m learning how to see people in ten dimensions all at the same time. I’m learning to, in the spirit of our founder and Kaneko Ikeda, use the power of effort, wisdom and character to reach someone’s heart before judgment does, and to have that same patience with myself. This issue is dedicated to our graduating seniors of 2010 – appreciation, awe, some words from underclassmen, and budding plans to X the world. Happy Reading!



Student Thoughts: SUA’s Upcoming 10th Anniversary  Compiled by Maya Ono [2011]

In 1960, Daisaku Ikeda, founder of SUA, ventured outside of Japan for the first time, on a mission to spread ideals of peace - a cheerleader for the youthful hopes of people across the world. At this time time Soka University of America was just a dream. In 2010, the 6th graduating class clad in royal blue robes will walk across the stage of the gym to a symphony of applause. Three months later, the incoming freshman class of 2014 will gather during their orientation week and watch a video made by their Student Orientation Leaders; SUA will be 10 years old and our campus community will celebrate the 10th anniversary of SUA’s founding. Next year will be the 10th spirit rally, but who created spirit department? It will be the 10th annual meeting of Academic Department, but how was AD created? Not by the administration, but by freshmen some years ago, who believed that SUA would benefit from an entity that is devoted to keeping morale high and unity strong. Someone who thought that SUA students could benefit from a functioning body of representatives that fights for students’ academic rights and serves as a link between the classroom and the administration. So if anniversaries are opportunities to blow out candles to a medley of determinations and goals... what’s next? Is it the goals we are celebrating? Or something deeper? The significance of SUA’s tenth anniversary lies in each of our personal beliefs, in the meaning we collectively create. Whether it’s the A you want in Biology, or that internship you’ve been meaning to snag, these are the goals that make next year’s 10th anniversary worthwhile. SUA’s victory is ultimately the victory of each individual student who is working hard day by day whether seen or unseen. It’s the victory of past alumni who have stepped out into the “real world” with not much more than an imagination full of dreams.


Maya Ono [2011]


Bubble, Buh-ble, Bubble - a word we undoubtedly come across a lot at SUA, typically associating it with that strange but familiar metaphor of the “Soka Bubble.”However, that is not the bubbling I am talking about. Thinking about SUA’s 10th anniversary caused the word “bubble” to bubble up to the forefront of my mind. In my two years at SUA, and right now more than ever, I’ve started to sense that SUA is a place bubbling with creativity - a creativity that empowers us to continue shaping and molding this university not only in the next ten years, but also in the far future. What amazes me most is the constant strife students go through to not conform and instead, choose the freedom to define, create and live what SUA means to us each day. We are bubbling with the new energy of growing diversity in a greater sense than demographic diversity. In fact, all this new growth is what is constantly encouraging us to create our own SUA, to define what it is that we want to live our four years here for. I sense a growing energy to break out of the “Soka Bubble” and surge forth into the world outside. At the same time, reflecting on what has already been created here, I feel very grateful to the innumerable people who have laid such a strong foundation for us to be able to actually create our own SUA. The 10th anniversary of SUA is actually much more than a culmination; it’s another starting point – a door to the next ten years and beyond. We [students] are the ones now laying the foundation for the SUA that will exist 10 years hence. Thus I really hope that we can seize the chance, put all our bubbly energy to use and together create something of (please excuse the cliché) value.

Nandini Choudhury [2012]

I don’t think milestones really mean anything unless we make a conscious effort to give them some significance for ourselves. When I was a sophomore, I told my dad that I felt “old” seeing all the freshmen do the things I was doing just a year earlier. He told me that it’s a great thing to be able to understand the profundity of the passage of time when you’re young. I can’t say I fully understand what he meant (maybe I’m not supposed to because I’m not an old-timer like him) but I can make an educated speculation. So many things take place on our campus, seen and unseen: within, without, among, and to each person. Sometimes it may seem like emotions or sensations are so densely concentrated in a moment that it can go on forever, and the “now” and “myself” are the only things that my mind will tolerate worrying about. But when I saw freshmen going through the same thing I once went through, I was reminded that my history cannot only be someone else’s present reality, but maybe it even has the potential to play a part in shaping their very own current experiences. I once read a quote that said “Time is what keeps everything from happening at once.” At SUA, time is what allows people’s lives to become a part of the SUA experience and lets more and more personal, distinct, and special stories shape the present reality here, the SUA experience right now. With that in mind, I want to use this ten year mark as an opportunity to do two things. First, pay homage to all that has come before me, for it really is what’s allowed me to grow these past three years and experience what I’ve experienced here so far (both the good and the bad)! Second, I want to put my all and then some into harnessing that steroid-like Soka growth hormone in my final year here to just grow into the best me I can, for the very sake of everyone that will come after me, after us! Perhaps this is what is so wonderful, liberating, and eye-opening about grasping the profundity of the passage of time.

Natalia Dare [2011]

Is there life after SUA? X says….yes! Compiled by Madeline Brownfield[2010] Photos by Justin Kunimoto [2011]

Friends: May 28, 2010 is zooming toward our little academic villa on the hill. I’m sure the gorgeous underclassmen of SUA are already starting to send themselves into a frenzy of senior-withdrawal and a panic headlined with agonized cries of: “What will we do without 2010?!” What you should be asking is, what will 2010 do without you? I mean, what will we actually be doing (besides emerging from shady dives in all corners of the world to accomplish X-worthy superhero deeds, of course)? I asked the soon to be 6th graduated class of Soka University of America to tell me anything at all about their post-college plans, and here’s what I found out. Enjoy!

I would like to find 1) a good job, 2) a good place to live, and 3) a good girlfriend. Hiroshi “Mario” Kojima I’m going to the University of WisconsinMadison to pursue my education in East Asian Languages and Literature! My dream is to come back to SUA and teach here!  Visit me in Wisconsin! Sachiko Kondo I will go back to Tokyo for a pig out spree and then start searching for my life’s passion. Charlene Lee I’m not being a “Global Citizen.” Josh Lucas I am going to USC next year to pursue a degree in human behavior.  Monika Mann I plan to go back to Japan and first jobhunt, then work. Yohko Murai I will be working in Singapore! Hui Naik


I will go back to Tokyo and look for a job. I will attend a school in Tokyo, Japan, Kaori Arai to prepare for the 2011 Foreign Service examination to become a diplomat! I will move back home, spend time with Miho Endo my family, and work while I contemplate about my next step.  [Answered prior to April 30] Why Robert Asabushi don’t you send me a sentence so I can add to my capstone?!? Shalt travel all the world (I wish) first Kelly Gochomoto stop, China, where I shall grad-school myself in international affairs. My plans after graduation are to Theresa Benkman move into my lovely new apartment (squeeeee!) and do all the exciting I’ll be figuring out when, where, things involved like blow my savings on and how I want to pursue writing, furniture, appliances, and home decor-music, language-learning, and more! then throw a house warming party! Meanwhile I’ll move home and bask in Renee Ha the warmth of family, and I’ll read The Pearl cover-to-cover every issue—Just I will go back to Japan and TRY to adjust like everyone else, right? to the Japanese society... scary! Just Madeline Brownfield kidding! Keiko “Rai” Kakurai I will be working with at-risk kids... somewhere? I will stay in California, producing and Kelsey Campbell filming movies, while secretly planning to create a production company. I will attempt to learn what it means Sarah “Kusho” Kakusho to live a correct life.  Maybe JET (I was accepted), maybe graduate school for I will continue a volunteership with Earth education in Chicago.  I’m trying to Resource Foundation and search for a figure out where my heart lies. job or paid internship over the next year. David Ciancanelli George Kataoka


I will go back to Japan and work. Takaaki “Nishimo” Nishimoto I’ll be either attending Columbia or Georgetown (post bacc) to fulfill my dreams in the field of medicine. Erika Noel I will continue to expand and learn more about my own path in life. Raymond Numagami I hope to travel the world, to learn more of what it means to be a global citizen.  Andrew Odano I’m going to follow my dreams wholeheartedly and live my life to the fullest every day. Olivia Yumi Pulphus I am going to do an MA in Conflict Studies and Human Rights at Utrecht University in Netherlands. Irina Punga I’ll go back to the East Coast and start Premed as soon as possible. Karen Quispe

I will possibly be teaching English in Thailand for a year, experiencing an entirely different world! Olivia Saito

I am either going to work in San Francisco or Los Angeles (unless I decide to disappear to Japan or Paris). Kyle Skahill

I am going to a grad school in London. I got accepted to King’s College London, and I will pursue MA in International Relations there. Ryoji Sakai

I’m pursuing a fruitful career in professional vagabondism. Megan Smith

I will pursue my studies in International Development at a graduate school and contribute to poverty reduction in Latin America! Keiko “Kitty” Sakamoto I will pursue a number of fields including fighting for world peace, rockin’ the world with my shimmering guitar which will lead to a Grammy nomination, teaching English, and being a taste-tester for Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. I also hope to end up in Europe for my graduate studies in the future. I will also save the manatees! Chelsea Schwartz


I will be living, loving, evolving; and following my dream of one day having my own kindergarten. I plan to flavorize the scene with relentless Caitlin Shepherd vigor atop my trusty steed of brolickhood, always poised to smite the evil specter My plan is to go to grad school and be a of plutocracy with the backhand clap of very humanistic economist! truth. Hiromi Hannah Shimizu Orpheus Richards I will return home to spend time with my My plan after SUA is to indulge my need family and boyfriend. After hearing back of doing artwork because I’ll have a year from the MA programs I applied to, I’ll to relax and figure out what I want to do hopefully start school in the fall! when I grow up. Hiromi Silva Rochelle Rissland I will go home and cook a lot! Laura Siomiak


My plans: To live and to die. Sylvia Sogabe I will go back to Japan and take the diplomatic service exam. Ryoko Taguchi I, as a part of Soka Global Brigades club, am going to Honduras from May 31st to June 6th! Toru Taguchi First, I plan on going back to Hawaii to work and pay off my student loans. I also intend to apply to SUJ’s Bekka program, which starts in April 2011. I also want to travel a bit, maybe fly to Japan or other parts of the US (New York anyone?). We’ll see, depending on how broke I am. Besides that, I’ll probably just be doing the usual “I miss SUA and all the amazing friendships I’ve had the fortune to make” thing. Damn, just thinking about that... it kind of sucks. Am I allowed to say damn in The Pearl? My bad. Anyway, that’s it. Please don’t forget me mofos. Toshi Takahashi I am determined to apply to a graduate school in Japan under the major of Intercultural Communications and Media.  Nona Takanashi I will be discovered in NYC. Kuniko “Mossa” Takeda

I will go back to Japan and apply to Nihon University, the Correspondence Division, the College of Humanities and Sciences, Department of English Literature in order to acquire a teaching certificate for junior high school teachers of English. Tenji Takino I will perfect my Chinese. Jahmile Torrejon After Soka, I will return home to Connecticut and spend valuable time with my family including my grandparents from Japan.  If I have not decided on what to do before graduation I will continue searching for my dreams during the summer. Visit me! Kayoko Tsujimoto I’ll find out in June if I get accepted to the University of Waterloo (in Canada) to do my premed! Hopefully I do! Taeko Uchida I will play professional basketball. Mitch Valdez I’m going back to Japan and will study for an exam to work at Tokyo Metropolitan Government. Yuki Wakamatsu I’ll go back to Japan and apply for a graduate program in translation and interpretation studies there. Kiyoko Watahara I will intern in Japan for summer. After summer, [PLAN A] go to grad school in the States; [PLAN B] work madly to save money for my future education. Nozomi Yamaki


I will happily wander through many worlds, this way and that way, while another I become the universe and forget Naoto. According to him/she/it, the “who is” was confining “Naoto.” In order to free the I from “Naoto,” there must be only “Naoto.” There is no “who is.” Only “Naoto.. Naoto Yoshizawa


Interview: SSU Executive Council

 Riri Nagao [2011]

Each academic year, a group of five student representatives are elected by the study body to represent SUA as officers of the Soka Student Union Executive Council (SSU EC). The upcoming school year marks the quickly approaching tenth anniversary of SUA and incoming classes are becoming exponentially diverse. In order to better understand where next year’s officers come from and help the student body gain insight into their personal lives, we’ve interviewed them below. We hope our readers will find ways to connect with our new student representatives on a personal level as we have more in common that we may think! The Pearl: What does your first name mean and where does it come from? How do you embody the significance of your name in your leadership style?


difficult to ignore heavy problems that we experienced in the past but it’s really important to put that aside and say that you’ll start new from today on. I really want the student body to feel optimistic next year as Natalia Dare (’11): Natalia was my we move forward into the future of great grandma’s name on my dad’s SUA. I hope that the campus can be side. When my parents found out an environment where people are that I was going to be a girl, my dad encouraged to start fresh every day immediately said oh her name’s and that SUA can be a place where going to be Natalia. It means birth. optimism is infectious in a realistic The word for Christmas in Italian way. I hope the environment can give is Natale because it’s the birth of people hope and inspire people to Jesus and also the word Natal comes create something right now towards from the Latin word for birth. In my the future. leadership style, birth represents something that’s new. Starting new Seon “Sun” Mi Jin (’13): I have is something really important in the Chinese characters in my first name. sense that we should not be bogged The first character, Seon, is to spread down by problems that happened or give people something from my in the past. Sometimes I think it’s heart. The second letter, Mi, means


beauty. So the meaning of my name is distributing and spreading the beauty to the entire world. I think the meaning really fits my character. I try to take care of each person. I also try to think about how I can encourage them to be positive. People usually struggle when they have negative thoughts so I think the meaning of beauty of the second letter of my name is to help spread positive thoughts. The Pearl: What is a personal reason you chose the position of the President where you are in a leadership position that is responsible for everything and being the face of SUA? Gregory “Scott” Williams (’11): I think it was the class of 2008. I really

felt like I could see the characteristics of leadership, being responsible for everything and being the face of SUA, in every member of 08. I know Karla Meier (’08) was the president that year but all the other students were just as bold in my mind as Karla. They also inspired me to be that kind of student. I thought that if I ran for president, I could really help other students to also strive toward leadership. The Pearl: Have you had a job or position where people looked up to you? ND: I volunteered on study abroad in Ecuador. I was helping out the teacher of this class of 13 to 18-yearold students with learning disabilities, kind of like special education. I always wanted to be at my best and be nice and smiling around them so they could feel good. Some students seemed like they had a lot of problems and were sometimes dark and unhappy. But other ones, such as one specific girl, were always smiling, laughing, and making jokes and getting my attention; I wanted to be happy like that. I realized that if she can make me feel happy just by smiling and making me laugh, I can do that too. So I wanted to be like that. She was so cute, her name was Yoli.

that are going through the same things that I went through. During freshman year, I had a really hard time being myself. I want to be there for people who are going through that right now. I’d like to be a role model in my everyday life by taking what I’ve learned from freshman year hoping that can touch people who are in that same position right now.

The Pearl: What do you feel is one of the most underappreciated things The Pearl: Who is someone you on campus? Why and how do you really admire or you look up to? plan to shed light on it so it gets recognized? Taeko “Ty” Iwamoto (’13): My mom. She’s an awesome person. GW: The first thing that came to When I was little, she was busy with mind was the Bridge program, and work and I never really got to have what they do for the bridge students. personal time with her. But I always I feel like the efforts that go into thought she is doing something for the bridge program should be more me whenever I’m not with her. Even appreciated. The program does so now she calls me sometimes to make much and nobody ever sees it or sure that I’m doing okay. I guess just appreciates it. One bridge student the care she gives me is amazing. said oh, I’m not a member of the SSU so I can’t share my opinions. It wasn’t Seon “Sun” Mi Jin (’13): My role even in terms of voting, we were just models are my parents, not just having a discussion. I was looking my mother and not just my father in the constitution, which states but both of them When I am that Bridge students fall into the procrastinating, I think about my category of special membership but parents so I can’t procrastinate they don’t even realize that they are anymore because I know my father technically members of the SSU. One works really hard for me and my of the things that I want to do is really mother always encourages me support that program and make the when I am depressed. Last semester, Bridge students aware that they I struggled a lot because of my are members of SSU too. We were academics. So I stuck my family picture thinking about creating a certificate on my laptop so that everyday when that says honorary member of SSU I opened it, I could see my parents when they come in and presenting and it would motivate me to focus. it to them so they know that they are connected to the student body. The Pearl: How would you say If they just know that, they will that you are a role model in your feel more comfortable to talk with everyday life? students and voice their opinions and it’ll help the program grow. ND: I like to talk to underclassmen


GW: I was a teacher this past summer in Taiwan. I taught English in a junior high. I’m not sure if they were looking up to me because I’m just this random white guy or because they actually thought I was inspiring but I felt like I was being a good role model. There was one kid who has anger issues and threw temper tantrums all the time. All the Taiwanese teachers would just get

fed up with him easily and they would yell at him and he would just go cry. I felt really bad. I thought, he needs to stop being so angry all the time, but the teachers should be a little more compassionate too. Even the other students picked on him because he cried. So I played badminton with him and when we’d play together I really saw an improvement in his behavior. He gave me a bracelet when I left and cried, not wanting me to leave. I was really touched.


Apollo’s Ground

International Festival 2010

by Nicole Hirayama

Interview: SSU Executive Council The Pearl: What’s something that your speech that you worked as an will always keep you young even as accountant. Can you tell us a little you grow older? bit about it? SJ: My dad owns a business and his main accountant had to quit because she was going to get married. Since the position was crucial, my dad wanted to employ someone trustworthy with experience. To my dad, I’m really trustworthy because I’m his daughter. Before the main accountant left, I learned how to manage everything from her for three months. After she left, I started work and it was really hard for me. I had to calculate everything get used to using numbers, and I didn’t like calculating at all. But as time went by, I got used to dealing with those kinds of things. I had a really hard time dealing with customers. One ND: I think comedy is so important. day when I hung I struggle to be funny sometimes; I up the phone, think I’m too serious. But comedy is I cried because so important so I think that a sense of the customer humor, like laughing at things, keeps had been so you young. It really lightens things up mean to me. My and it’s so therapeutic. I watch Family father told me, “Sun, you should stop Guy and bought all these Fresh Prince crying because this is a workplace. DVD’s from Ecuador. It just puts me at I am not your father here; I’m your ease. supervisor so you need to do your best in front of me.” After working TI: One thing is basketball. I love with my father, I began to understand playing basketball and watching him more than before. Usually it. That’s absolutely one thing that fathers don’t talk to their families will keep me young. And probably about how they struggle outside the sleeping; I slept for eight hours today workplace. I used to be closer to my and it feels so good and I feel so mom because I didn’t know about young! It’s amazing. I didn’t want to my father’s struggles. After working wake up. with him, I began to see his problems as my problems too. I became able to The Pearl: So you mentioned in understand my father.


SJ: That’s a good question for me. I’m the oldest in the freshman class. I guess one is to not put make up on and not to dress up too often. When I dress up, people say I look so mature. The other one is trying to listen to people here. Since I am from an Asian country, we have age hierarchy. Sometimes I subconsciously think “they are so young, they wouldn’t know and they wouldn’t understand me” but I’m really trying to change myself and open myself to listen to other freshman’s opinions. Last semester, I didn’t really talk to my classmates. I don’t know why. I just felt alone and I didn’t want to go talk to people. But this semester I’m really trying to listen to my friends. I no longer see them as being younger than me; they are my friends.


The Pearl: If you were to describe next year’s team with a type of dish, what would it be and why? GW: We are like Costco samples because all of the good samples are from all different parts of the store. They’re not all lined up, they’re scattered all over Costco. That is like our team because we are really different and none of us have a similar background. We all do things and we’re all out there, but in different fields. The great thing about samples is that they taste great. People get hooked on samples and then people want to buy the real product. For next year, people bought the product,

the whole package. That’s EC in full effect. SJ: I think the Korean dish, Bibimbap. I already think we are working really well together. The characteristic of Bibimbap is that there are different ingredients and each ingredient has a different taste. As we mix it with the spicy sauce, the taste becomes harmonious. Every ingredient goes well together when mixed. As we, EC members, mix, we create a better flavor.

“I hope that the campus can be an environment where people are encouraged to start fresh every day and that SUA can be a place where optimism is infectious in a realistic way.�



Founder’s Corner

Daisaku Ikeda [Founder] Compiled by Emiko Kobayashi [2011]

Graduation time has arrived and in an effort to refresh and remember the word’s of our founder, we’ve compiled excerpts from SUA Founder Daisaku Ikeda’s Welcome Reception Messages to each of the current classes of 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, especially for 2010, our graduating seniors. For the Undergraduate Class of 2010 To the celebrated members of the undergraduate Class of 2010, who signal genuine hope for the future of humanity, allow me to express my heartfelt congratulations to you for having chosen to attend Soka University of America! And to your families and friends who are with you today, I am both delighted and grateful that you have joined us. I would also like to extend my greetings to our distinguished guests from the wonderful community of Aliso Viejo, the SUA faculty and staff, and to the students of SUA’s other classes. I thank those of you who have gathered here to offer such a splendid and warm welcome for the newest members of our university. America, which I adore and admire, is a land of boundless freedom, and it is here that the promise and possibilities of humanistic education may be explored without end. My wife, Kaneko, and I have had the privilege of calling Xie Bingxin (1900-99) a close and dear friend. It was in America that the acclaimed author, who is also known as the mother of modern Chinese literature, spent her youth as a university student, an experience that she would cherish and draw sustenance from, for the rest of her life. Her stay in the United States began as a struggle to overcome a profound sense of loneliness, her life in a foreign country brightened only by the moments she thought of her mother in faraway China. She refused to give in to periodic bouts of illness, battling her way back to eventual health. There were other hardships as well, many unforeseen, yet she persevered over them all. And still she doggedly pursued her studies, prevailing over the most daunting challenges. For the author more popularly known as Bing Xin, life in America led her to this conviction: Only by forging on, by growing as a person, by striving toward a lofty goal, and further, by contributing to the welfare of others, could a person’s life truly flower— and the means through which this was possible was to devote a lifetime to learning.

inspiring boundless hope and courage in the hearts of countless fellow citizens. It was her days as a young student in America, then, that compelled her—indeed, drove her—into a life of achievement. As Madame Xie would write: While we may all embark upon the journey of life alone, we are joined by likeminded companions along the way; in time, as if marching in a parade, we hit our stride in great joy, shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand, allowing us to overcome the arduous ways of the world, providing relief and respite from this long, winding path that we have traversed. My spirit dances, knowing in my heart that those of you who studied at SUA will go on to fulfill your life’s highest calling over the next ten years, twenty years, even fifty years—a calling that is sure to be epic and wondrous. I hope that your days at this university will be fruitful, fulfilling, and free from regret, that they be spent with an open mind, contemplating a future that is truly worthy of you. I hope you may spend them with good friends, who share this sparkling campus that the entire world gazes upon with keen interest.

For the Undergraduate Class of 2011


SUA is a citadel of hope at which young people, who will go on as leaders in advancing world peace and the happiness of humanity, dare to gather. One cannot help but be struck by how mystic and meaningful it is that you, out of 6.6 billion people in this world, have come together now to write a new page in history, at the same school at a similar time in your youth, sharing the same desire to learn. I ask that you encourage one another as dear friends and fellow classmates, engaging all the while in a spirited yet amicable rivalry, to forge the bonds of fellowship here that will endure in triumph for the rest of your lives. I further ask that you delve with open minds and stout hearts into the world’s most advanced curricula as you Madame Xie would live well into her tackle without fear the task of ushering in a new nineties, but she never faltered in her quest renaissance for global civilization. For that is the for free expression and spiritual emancipation, unique privilege of being young.


For the Undergraduate Class of 2012 Allow me to share the sentiments of Marcus Aurelius, Caesar of Rome and sapient philosopher, which I heartily embraced as a youth. He believed that life can be perfected through the progressive compilation of deeds, and that no one else but yourself can ever prevent you from this achievement. Come what may, only those who bravely forge ever onward, toward the most towering of goals, will win. It is because we strive for the highest ideals that we must endure suffering far greater than most. Yet our every step forward, borne out of unyielding perseverance, will inspire a multitude of individuals that will follow in our footsteps, offering them hope and light. As a line from our school song, “On the Path of Peace”—which your fellow students performed in Japan last month—reads: “Our footsteps in the present will be paths of peace one day.” For the Undergraduate Class of 2013 Allow me and my interlocutors, then, to present you with the thoughts of three great philosophers of the past as a way of celebrating your new departure. First, from Emerson, whom I have been fond of since the days of my youth: “Our chief want in life, is, somebody who shall make us do what we can. This is th eservice of a friend. With him we are easily great.” A life removed and alienated from others loses its luster. A life spent in constant dialogue with friends while learning with an open heart, on the other hand, will remain radiant with the restorative light of value creation. That is the spirit of Soka. The students of SUA, who have come here from every corner of the planet, share an extraordinary bond of friendship. That is why I ask you to strive strenuously to inspire one another and improve yourselves as you sate your passion for learning and scale the peaks of your youth. I also ask you to go on to create a model here at this campus for a culture of peace, one rooted in a deep, abiding respect for humanity that will expand from the communities that you reside, on to society as a whole and the entire world.

To 2010, Ganbatte and Intimate Whispers from Japan A Film Review of Lost in Translation

There are times when I would much prefer to live in books or movies. After a month of living in Japan, I have grown used to dramatically rolling my eyes at the mere whisper of Naruto. But even despite my evergrowing hatred of Anime**, I find something so appealing in the distinct frames of Manga. In fiction, the world is epic. Good vs. Evil. Harry vs. Voldemort. Man vs. Food. But as I sit here in my messy room, watching the grey of rain hitting pavement outside my window, I can’t help but feel small and confused. 2010 Graduation is not too far away. If I was writing a Manga, or maybe instead a trailer for an epic movie it would go something like this:

superhero suit, there are days when I know this daydream will remain fiction. The world is not Manga. Instead, the frames of our lives pass with blurry rapid speed, indistinctly mixing good with evil, pleasure with pain, and beauty with obscenity.

Michelle Hamada[2011] syllables. Nothing is too convincing though, and the words remain a secret known only to Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Sofia Coppola and maybe a handful of others who were lucky to pull this truth out of them through blackmail or copious amounts of alcohol. Perhaps Coppola is a genius, having all the lost people of the world wonder and search for this muttered meaning that, just like the two main characters, is lost in the bustle of the crowd. But a part of me also wonders if perhaps Coppola was afraid of sounding too sappy. Often life’s truths are so simple that they can sound trite and naïve, thus making even the most complex and real films seem like just another childhood allegory. Or maybe she was worried that the film might seem like another epic movie where the complexities of life are compounded into a simple analogy, Superman is to Kryptonite as a Student is to Self Doubt?

** My hatred is based mostly on just a few anime loving perverts I have met in Japan. I actually know nothing about Anime and realize that only some of you are creeps. Also, I love Twilight so Anime lovers please feel free to use that as ammo if I just offended you.


I watched Lost in Translation recently. In a somewhat shallow attempt to reminisce upon the sights I saw in Tokyo through another lens, I hoped to shine a new light on my study abroad experience. Instead, the film had me dwelling upon thoughts of my impending graduation. Confusion and the desperate hope for direction were things that I could grasp onto a little too well. For those of you (read slowly with dramatic man voice) who haven’t seen Sofia Coppola’s 2003 film, it follows the story of two Americans who meet In a just a few weeks, students will in Tokyo. One is a young newlywed college emerge for the summer season. Armed graduate and the other is a middle aged with a superhuman suit of optimism actor, in Japan to film a commercial. Although and a sense of global awareness, these they are in different stages in their lives, they 400 plan to fight injustice and protect find themselves in exactly the same place As an openly sappy person who knows world peace. Some of these baby intellectually and emotionally. They are lost. that there are those who might snigger at my ninjas will elusively return to the Aliso naiveté, and with the knowledge that I might Viejo training grounds in September, It’s a quiet film. Even in the final sound like an overused voiceover, I will tell while a special 90 will remain in our climactic moment when Bill Murray embraces you all what I think Bill Murray might have world. May 28, 2010. Are you ready? Scarlett Johansson in the middle of a busy said, and what I would like to say to all of you, Tokyo street and he whispers in her ear, you the graduating seniors of 2010. (return to Michelle girly voice) hear nothing but soft inaudible muttering, leaving the audience to wonder just what the Please never doubt your potential. In this epic movie I am currently hell he said. You are stronger and more capable than you creating in my mind, we are all ever-victorious know. I am fully convinced that you have and brave. Free of self-doubt, we are never Being a child of the digital age, I checked everything you need to rock the real world. paralyzed by fear. We are Knights, not Damsels on YouTube. There are many hypotheses. Now go! I love you and good luck! and the roar of the Soka lion is always echoing People have used technology to enhance the through the four chambers of our hearts. As audio so parts of Bill Murray’s final wisdom much as I love the image of Jean in a lycra- can be made out in fragmented words and


Jean Marcus Silva [2011]


Peace, in juxposition with War, is a series of fictional short stories trying to understand our human lives. He was tired. Nymphs of joy and pride joined him in the same boredom. The meaning of partying changed completely these days. Hours ago, Eduardo Fleming had awoken in the same way he always did. He stood up already tired, ready to sleep again. He lived in a small room with a kitchenette, and from his sofa/bed he could see his breakfast ready. The aroma of coffee already filled the room and the toast jumped with happiness. Through the only window of the room, which covered the entire outside wall, a happy cat would come in from a long night of adventures. “You may enjoy all I can’t, Cat,” sighed Eduardo Fleming while finishing his over-buttered toast and dramatically swallowing the warm coffee, no sugar. Cat herself was a representative of the whole genetic history of cats. She was slim, seeming like she had never seen the outside world, but the brown and red stains on her fur were collected from many night’s adventures. His time those mornings was not generous. The time before his office cubicle started missing him (and he missing his paycheck) was just enough to dress as casually as possible and leave. Saturday. Why was he working even on Saturday? Cat and I believe that he should relax a little bit more, especially on Saturdays. His way of relaxing on these days was to wear a tie patterned with naked women. How rebellious of him. Cat was amused by such acts. That’s what they were. Eduardo Fleming was on a constant stage. We could not let him go by himself today, so I traveled with Cat; she never minded. Actually, she said to me one day, she enjoyed traveling together. “I wish Eduardo was like you. He would be way happier.” I agree with her. After leaving his home, Eduardo closed the door behind him. That would not stop Cat and I. We, meaning she, climbed down the window from a 7-story building; Eduardo lived on the second floor so it was no big deal. We covered a couple blocks through the small corridor between buildings so we could catch


up with Eduardo. Once we left our own block of buildings, it wasn’t too hard to find him. All that was left, including our own building now, was white infinite. Everything vanished and all was empty. Eduardo dropped his mug of coffee on the ground splashing a brown pattern on the immaculate floor. We got closer to Eduardo as he was petrified. He did not move a muscle and we were afraid the shock would be too much for him. He left the trance his was in, looked down at Cat and found instant comfort. He crouched and started patting her. This was a good sensation. What on Earth happened to us, Cat? Where are all the things? He searched ahead of him, in the vast horizon of nothingness, and something caught his attention. He started walking slowly and Cat followed him very closely. It was an electric chair walk. The time passed slowly; it probably did not have much to do. After a couple of minutes I could see for myself what caught Eduardo’s attention. A giant tree lay on the edge of the horizon. A gargantuan tree of some sort (not that I know names of trees) observing the entirety of the nothing we travel through. Time then relapsed for a second, and on the next step, Eduardo already reached the vicinities of the tree, and what he saw was incredible. A party seemed to be happening, but the kind of party we’ve only heard about from Greek mythology narratives. Nymphs and Satyrs and gods danced to music-less song in the interior part of the tree close to the ground. They did not notice Eduardo’s arrival. “Is this what heaven is supposed to look like?” Eduardo was puzzled as he could not quite grasp the oddity of this place. But Cat and I noticed the creatures here were not happy. They were not sad either. They just were. This was the moment they noticed us, as we were definitely apart from the environment. The moment they saw us they started rushing in our direction. “Oh boy...definitely not heaven,” mumbled Eduardo as we projected our exit to the opposite side of the mob.

advice column

“I’m worried about my future.”

Erica Stein [2011]

extracurricular activities and internships, but nothing seemed to work. I often felt like I was losing my breath. I decided that the only thing that I can do (the only thing any of us can do) is move forward and try to figure out the people we truly are. How are we ever going to figure out our futures or career paths if we don’t know who we truly are?

To try and figure out a deeper sense of who I am, I started to reflect on the events of the past three years, and my life at SUA. Inevitably, I began to ask myself a lot of questions: Did I utilize my time at SUA? Could I have done more? Do I have any regrets? Have I grown as a person? What have I really learned in college? What do I want to do with my senior year? Will I be happy as a writer? I also started to reflect on many of the mistakes that I have made, and I realized that our mistakes are not he school year is almost over. We are something to fear. Our mistakes will not shape graduating, becoming sophomores, our paths. They will help us find the answers to juniors, and seniors, and there is our questions. so much pressure to figure out the next step. Just like you, I often feel overwhelmed. I am a The “mistakes” that I have made at SUA 21-year-old college junior, and I feel like I have and in life, have changed me in the most no time to figure out my next step. beautiful way. I am who I am because of the things I learned through those trials and Before I came to SUA, I was so sure about tribulations, and I am so grateful for those my future. My time at SUA was going to be a experiences. steppingstone in the path that I knew I was bound to take. I was going to be a writer, I was The bottom line is that we are all so going to be a journalist, and I was going to go young, even if it doesn’t always feel that way. to graduate school. We have time to figure out our futures, we just have to figure out who we are first. My advice Flash forward three years and I have no to all of you (who are freaking out about the idea if that is what I want to do anymore. I love future and/or immersed in a pseudo quarterto write, I still want to be a writer, but I don’t life crisis) is figure out who you are, and let know if that’s all I will do. There is a whole go of the fear. Fear is what controls us and world of possibilities, and I want to make sure makes us think that time is running out and that I consider every possible option. until we know who we are as people, we can’t be expected to know what we want to do and When I first realized that I didn’t have a commit to a future, to a graduate school, or set plan (I always have a plan) I freaked out. to a life. I am a 21-year old college junior, how can I not know my next step? In a year I will be Life is a beautiful adventure and we are graduating, I have to have some direction, all writing the pages of our unique stories. don’t I? As long as we have faith in ourselves, there is absolutely nothing to fear. We are all going to At first I felt scared and the fear be okay. Just remember to breath and take overpowered me. I lost all motivation in one step at a time. academics, due to my lack of plan. In an effort to figure out my next step, I buried myself in




Another last morning song OR Wandering meditations wrapped around a one-sentence ode to Yoshiyuki Hara’s ‘do.


The time to begin feeling the reason approaches. Oh my. Let me get this article over with as quickly as possible, so I can go back to my willfully ignorant stupor. Let me stare out the window through the tree branches, listen to the very early breakfast music from my upstairs neighbor and allow the bass to reverberate through my ceiling and into mind, to stop it from thinking about the near future. For now I am thinking only of: the light outside my window, and the interesting combination that the beat from the ceiling makes with the ribald piano and elegant waltzing drone of Rufus’ voice through my humble speakers. This is all I need, this moment by myself sitting in my customary almost-fetal position on the green chair at my desk. I chuckle inwardly at my feigned disinterest in the chaotic confetti to come in a matter of days. Gradua—what? I’m sorry, that’s not an English word I recognize. Sotsugyou? Oh yeah, I recognize that vocabulary word from Japanese class. What does it mean again? Ah- ice cream shop. Yes, that must be it. Ice cream. That would be nice right now. Man, Nishimo really loves ice cream, eats it every day. I remember when he spontaneously swept to the piano bench on August 11, 2006, began to play and we were all blown away—the very first performance at the very first Class of 2010 birthday party (mine and my ‘twin’ Shelia’s). OH NO. I’m letting the memories in. STOP stopstposptospo…. Too. Late. OH dear, I’m an old college lady, gave it the old college try, but these four years just ran past me laughing. The years left me in the dust with a fistful of Facebook photo albums and a two-ton burlap sack of “good luck” and “thank you” notes slipped under my door. Once I’ve checked out of my room forever, I can’t stop SUA from forgetting who I was, who we were. How long will notes sung reverberate off of grey brick? I didn’t battle any Grendel-ish beasts, or unearth the five-hundred year-old pirate ship and associated loot buried under the bowl between the dorms. So, I guess I leave our legacy up to you to fabricate or eke out of whatever memories you may have of me and the other unusually chill people soon to leave. We only have now and this page, so let’s talk about something important, something worthwhile for your lives: Rufus. Rufus Wainwright—the guy whose face is pasted all over my coffee


tumbler (frequent winner of twentyfive cents off coupons for the Sokafe), a Canadian-American singer-songwriter. I’ve mentioned him in this column once before, briefly, and I could spend a long time detailing his various aspects of fabulousness, and more significantly, the alarming fraction of conversation time my sister and I allot for his music and related subjects. Instead I just want to offer a bit of thanks, because his music narrated the last four years for me. I know I really like his music, but for some songs, I have so far only formed a familiarity, not a profound, thought-out opinion. Rufus’ tunes mingle with images and experiences of my daily life here. One song, “Danny Boy,” is familiar like the hopeful reach into the fork-bin at the cafeteria, only to find empty space. Even as the rolling rhythm keeps going, the melody takes a mournful turn, and I resign to guilty use of disposable plastic utensils or wooden chopsticks. Another, “Greek Song,” I love but I haven’t stopped to wonder exactly why. I feel the same instant smile when I see the totally rad hairstyle of an unassuming Extended Bridge Program student. ”The One You Love,” sounds like a portrait of me in my dorm trying to study on a Wednesday night, jumpy for open air and the company of friends. Another gets on a plane to go away for a little too long, and “Leaving For Paris, No. 2” haunts me and drenches me in elegance. I resonate even with the moments that surprise me. I’ve learned to sing along with feelings and personal interactions I could never have predicted. I said I would get this over as quickly as possible—well, I lied. I’ve passed my minimum word limit and still ramble on, unwilling to leave you for another couple dozen words—notes that might resonate through your mind, splash color onto the mosaics on your brick walls. I don’t want to completely leave this campus, but I would like that diploma. I don’t want to lose the quotidian comforts of seeing SUA’s familiar hands and trees, of hearing the silences and sounds to which I’ve grown accustomed. But I won’t fully understand why I love those things until I leave them for a while. I’ll come back and let you know when I get any ideas. If I start to make meaning from these moments, I probably won’t be able to do so in complete sentences. So readers, prepare for songs, stories, epiphanic poems and a whole lot of alumni love. In some of the words that ABBA once sang: thank you for the music.

Madeline Brownfield [2010]

Breakfast Music

On Movies I have avoided talking about my favourite art because I didn’t think I would be able to maintain the Brazilian Wax effect on movies. I am too attached to movies. But the time to write has come and I cannot wait any longer. I have to talk about cinema. So I apologize if you don’t get the desired reaction you were anticipating from waxing. I cannot recall the first movie I watched in theatres. It might not have been a good movie or I was not really paying attention as I was really young. A certain movie, though, is the one I consider being my first experience with the bit screen: Tim Burton’s Batman. I had watched several movies before, I presume, but none of them moved me as the dark knight in his first apparition; and I did not even read comics at that time. The reason though, is more interesting and fantastic than the statement implies, especially when it comes to Burton as I don’t like his way of directing. His authorial cinema has a very limited imagination. Scenarios repeat throughout his works. But when batman flew for the first time on the screen, a real bat simultaneously dove over the audience following its fictional master. “I could never have imaged that movies could be that real,” I probably thought while observing the trajectory of the winged mammal. This was only possible because I was watching the movie in a precarious theatre. The building had a small entrance hall with a tiny ticket booth and if you wanted to accompany your session with popcorn you would have to go outside to purchase it from an ambulant popcorn stand owned by a lovable old man. My grandfather, who is recurrent in my stories, used to own that same popcorn stand (a fact he likes to mention more than he can remember). In fact my grandpa was a movie projector himself when he was younger. But unlike in The Majestic – a production with surprisingly good acting from Jim Carey – my grandpa had no love for movies and prefers to never set his eyes on a motion picture again, for the rest of his life. He has an interesting way of considering the finite.

I would never have had this experience if I lived in a city that was particular about enforcing hazard policies and demanded that every building was perfectly safe. (I recall the day I watched Titanic it was raining outside and so we had real water to enhance our experience inside). Years later, the city started worrying about safety and demolished the old theatre, transforming it into a Christian church, and again later into a mini-shopping mall. But the memories of that old theatre remained in my heart as I grew up and I never lost the taste for fantasy that the dangerous building brought out in me. I really hope that in the future, my children will have the opportunity to live with no safety guaranteed. I write this for 2010. You may not understand or care for what I am writing right now, but this thought is for you.

Photo by Janice Lee


Jean Marcus [2011]

Brazilian Wax

Back to the theatre of my childhood. After purchasing the tickets and popcorn, we (my father and I, as he was my common accomplice watching movies before my hormones kicked in and I substituted him for girls) ventured to the projection room itself. It had quite a high ceiling and precarious wooden seats with no cushioning. By the end of the side wall there were passages for the air to circulate, as there was no hydraulic system for that, and that was where the bats came from. This was the place my movie fantasies began.


mission statement The Pearl strives to emulate slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl’s efforts to bring out the human side of every story. Following his courageous model, The Pearl opens channels of communication in an endeavor to articulately and respectfully express differing opinions. The contributors to The Pearl report on issues of concern for the campus, the local community and the globe, aiming to unify the campus toward the realization of the mission of Soka University of America.

Jihii Jolly is back at SUA!

Jean Marcus off to go!

Madeline Brownfield is graduating.

Jean Marcus creation awaits us.

the show must go on!

credits Jihii Jolly (Editor-in-Chief, Layout); Jean Marcus Silva (Public Relations Liaison, Layout, Spiritual Guide); Janice Lee , Nico Hirayama (Photography); Aaron Freedman, Madeline Browfield (Editing Team); Nicole Fleming, Desiree Foster (Contributing Staff); Chelsea Nakabayashi, Sara Nuss-Galles, Geoff Westropp (Advisors); Michael Strand (Alumni Armando (photoAdvisor); by Janice Lee) Dubon, Saeed Fakhriravari, Sam Morales, Derrick Springer, Geoff Westropp (Technical Support)


Graduation 2010 Soka University of America Student News Magazine


Graduation 2010 Soka University of America Student News Magazine