"I used to volunteer at a Japanese-American Senior Center, which advertised that they provide services in both Japanese and English. But in reality, the majority of the helpers only spoke broken English, and favored the Japanese-speaking elders over the non-Japanese speaking Japanese American elders there. So as soon as I started volunteering, I was inevitably responsible for taking care of all the Japanese-Americans (about 60% of the entire group) who mainly had some sort of dementia. The senior center also provided health-related workshops, but only in Japanese, so the Japanese Americans were unable to access those sort of information, further dividing the groups. I really wanted to help communities like these, and that’s when my friend, Van Nguyen from the Vietnamese Department, suggested me to start a department under VHIO. Since I was heavily involved in research in academia settings, VHIO has impacted me by expanding my horizon by offering me opportunities to speak with many people from various backgrounds with different values and priorities. Through interactions with patients and their caregivers, I decided that I wanted to do research that would be for the people (product) rather than research for myself (academia).
Furthermore, VHIO made me value my language and culture more. I was rather distant from the Japanese community on campus till Junior year and felt myself gradually losing my Japanese speaking and writing skills. But through my services, I realized how valuable my skills are, and I have learned to cherish it."