Meet Kizuna Fellow Daisuke Ogata
Daisuke Ogata is a Kizuna Fellow from Japan who has joined the USCCD for the summer of 2013. The Kizuna Project provides a fully-funded opportunity for Japanese university students and recent graduates who are either from or volunteered in the regions affected by the 2011 earthquake to share their personal stories, develop new skills, and experience American life through an intensive, six-month U.S. training and cultural exchange program. Fellows build people-to-people ties between the two countries that will last far into the future. (Learn more about the Kizuna Project here.)
While in Des Moines, Daisuke is working on the USCCD Japan Center program in addition to doing outreach that includes presentations to students and community members in order to share his personal experiences and opinions with people in the American Midwest. When he returns to Japan in the fall he'll continue his studies at University of Takushoku in Tokyo.
Daisuke grew up in Fukushima City, in the northern part of Japan. His parents are both involved in agriculture and he is a 7th generation farmer. His ancestors have been growing and selling produce for nearly 200 years. The March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that cause damage to a nuclear reactor in Fukushima has impacted his family’s livelihood; few people will buy food grown in Fukushima, fearing radiation poisoning.
The harmful rumors and mis-information about produce and livestock safety from the Tohoku region has been a struggle for Daisuke's family and their neighbors, which has only encouraged Daisuke more to look for ways to help his community recover. That is what led him to apply for a Kizuna (“Bond” in Japanese) Fellowship. He hopes to deepen the bonds and connections between Japan and the United States by sharing his experience from March 2011. His quest for global understanding has taken him to 20 countries so far. Eventually he would like to work for a global organization addressing global issues like poverty, hunger and human rights, so he plans to attend graduate school in the European Union once he’s finished his undergrad degree.
Daisuke was pleasantly surprised by the similarity between his home in Japan and Des Moines. The agricultural feel made him more comfortable than he had anticipated before his arrival. One of Daisuke’s favorite things about life in the U.S. is the broad variety of kitchen implements and tools. An avid cook, he has so far attempted Mexican, Korean, Italian, and Arabic dishes on his own, and has made pizza at home – which is great, since pizza is one of his favorite foods.
So far the only real challenge, Daisuke says, is communicating fluently in English. He’s working hard to improve his command of the language but sometimes finds himself wishing he had a better ability to express exactly what he means. He’s collecting new words each day to improve his skills.
While in Des Moines, Daisuke is available to speak about his experience during the earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent nuclear crisis, life in Japan general, or Japanese agriculture. Check out this video of him speaking to a group in Des Moines recently. If you would like to have Daisuke speak to your school, church, organization or business, please visit the USCCD contact page to make arrangements.
Posted Monday, July 22, 2013