Betty Sakamoto: Aloha and welcome to Betty’s Real Estate Corner brought to you by Sakamoto Properties Coldwell Banker and Coldwell Banker Sakamoto Properties. Another day here in Maui was glorious. If anybody was up early enough to watch the moonset. It was spectacular today. You just don’t see it that way that often. There will be clouds, there will be something but today the most spectacular moonset in the world. Today in the studio, we have Yumi Kuwana who is a really good friend of ours. She and her husband run a major business which she can tell us a little bit about. We really wanted to talk about something that she is been involved with for over 10 years Global Citizens Initiative. It’s quite a story about young people coming together usually they are going to be at Harvard business school or Harvard.
Yumi Kuwana: Campus
BS: Campus the regular campus sorry. We are going to tell you a little bit about that and how also Yumi’s been talking to students at Lahainaluna High School with the possibility of having one of them come to the Global Citizens Initiative as a junior in high school or sophomore. We are really excited about that prospect. Yumi, tell us a tiny bit about Global Citizens and how it started.
YK: Thank you, Betty. Thank you so much for having me here today on the radio show. It’s really an honor. First of all, before I even start, I just wanted to send my prayers and thoughts for the people in Ukraine.
YK: I know it’s not easy right now. Our thoughts are with you all and that leads me to Global Citizens Initiative. It’s a 501C nonprofit based in Connecticut but really approaches the world. Our mission is to engage, educate, and empower citizens, and youth from all sectors of society in all walks of life to be lifelong leaders of positive change. The way I started this really goes back to my childhood. It’s really where I was born in the United States in Boston Massachusetts grew up in Japan and moved there when I was eight. When I first moved there because I look Japanese. I am Japanese but I didn’t act or read or write Japanese to as a native level I got bullied for a couple of years. Over the years I gradually assimilated or was accepted by all or hopefully the community. Then again in junior high school, we had English as a 2nd language. I spoke English better than the English teachers, so I got bullied again. It was a hard childhood and that pain really inspired me to start this organization called Global Citizens Initiative. If you want to go to the website, it’s www.globalci.org.
BS: One of the things I remember when you were first starting it of course what I remember could be totally different than what was important. What I thought was amazing early on was one of the early meetings I will call it a meeting that you had the students at there was going to be a lot of conversation about peace. What it would take to have global peace. Let’s say 40 young people were going to be brought together from around the world all walks of life. You told me once about a young man who I think was from Africa that was quite a story. I think it would be worth hearing that one for a minute. What I thought of so much would be a great opportunity for anybody at kind of a national, international level to be able to express what they think would help peace. What you did has been monumental and it keeps continuing so it’s great.
YK: We are still small-scale. Over the years hopefully, we can even increase our impact so that we can reach more children or youth high school students from around the world. The objective really is to agree to disagree, get to know one another, and really form friendships. It kicks starts with a nine-day summit which is basically a conference. This year we are hosting it at St. Andrews University in Scotland. We will have students from all over the world. Over the nine days, it’s breaking down barriers, building up trust, and forming different groups so they can work on glocal service projects which are global pressing issues, and how to solve them locally. We introduce them to the human-centric framework called design thinking. We also use the Harkness pedagogy which is student-centric discussion-based learning. We also really emphasize ethics and human connectivity. Through this everybody becomes a family. For many, they say it’s transformative which were just so rewarding to see. Over time we have had yes students from Afghanistan, Mongolia, Syria various parts of Africa including South Africa, Kenya, and Ethiopia.
BS: And now Lahaina.
BS: Maybe. We are getting there.
BS: Part of the first one or the early on I think this no matter what’s happening in the world for people to come together was the one that you would mention to me. It really doesn’t matter where the student came from. The point was that they were I am going to say I envision they were standing outside looking toward the other students that they were going to be with the feeling I’ll never fit into this, I can’t do this, this is going to be awful. Yumi took one look at him and again she may tell this different but her point was no you hold your shoulders up put your head up and walk in there and when you walk in there you’ll know you are as good as anybody in there and she said he did. He threw his shoulders back, stuck his chest out, and walked in and the rest was history because he made monumental changes in his life.
YK: Absolutely. That is David. It really brings me a smile and really warms my heart. He came from the Southern Los Angeles area and he was selected nominated by his teacher. He had never been out of his Los Angeles area community. He is never been on an airplane. He is never really had Chinese food. He lives close to where there are a lot of homeless people. His glocal service project was to empower homeless people with a shower. He created a mobile shower that people in his community could use. His project won the seed money from GCI which was very exciting. That enabled him to gain the confidence that I could go outside of the California area and make a difference. He got accepted to all the universities Berkeley, UCLA et cetera. He ended up going to Georgetown University.
YK: He had a mentor during our Global Citizens fellowship who was Japanese. That inspired him and he started to learn Japanese. It was his favorite class at Georgetown. He actually took a junior abroad and went to Asia. He went to Hongkong, Japan, and China, and then covid hit so he had to come back early. Now, he has graduated from Georgetown University. He is back in Los Angeles and he works to represent janitors in a labor union. He wants to go to law school so that he could be protective to various people that don’t have a voice.
BS: Wow. Again, this is something that I mean hopefully we do have someone this year from Lahainaluna. We are pretty close to that decision I believe. We will know more by the next show. We obviously are drifting a little off the real estate idea. I just felt like Yumi and everything going on in the world today if we could all just take a moment and think about it and that what she’s been doing with these young people does change the world. I have been saying for a long time let’s just be kind to one another. Let’s start at home. Let’s start in our own houses. Be kind don’t be snarky. Let’s all take it and these young people have now learned to take it to a different level and to talk about world peace.
YK: Yes. We basically teach them. We provide them with the resources mindset and tools to become change agents. We empower each and every one of our students that attend. Lahainaluna High School will be amazing if we have a student. We’ve had students from Maui excuse me from Hawaii but on the different islands. We really need a voice from Maui that would be really special. I think to have representation from different types of cultures especially Hawaii where it’s really a gateway to Asia.
BS: It’s a melting pot.
YK: It’s a melting pot. It’s a multicultural beautiful state.
BS: Speaking quickly of Maui we have Dr. Norman Estin on the phone. He is going to give us a little bit of an update on what’s going on with the coronavirus even though it’s almost over we are hoping. Are we on here, Norm?
Dr. Norman Estin: We are.
BS: Okay, good afternoon.
NE: Good afternoon, aloha.
YK: Good afternoon, aloha.
NE: I am going to be very brief and I’m going to start out with one sentence and end with the same sentence. We’ve got a lot of claims that we are finished with this coronavirus pandemic. I can tell you the coronavirus is nowhere finished with us. Let me explain what that means. Here in the United States, in Hawaii, and in Maui, we are relaxing all the restrictions. Next week we are going to stop indoor masking here in Hawaii. Next month the middle of the month we are going to stop the mass mandate on airplanes. Even though we still have a lot of people who are getting sick with the mild omicron version of the coronavirus we are not taking it as a giant public health menace right now in this country. That is in a distinction to a lot of other places in the world. For instance, in China, we now have two cities with 17 million quite a large number. 17 million that are basically locked down because of the coronavirus. The new variant that everybody’s heard of is the omicron in particular the BA.2. The reason they are having trouble is that the vaccine that they use. The two of them they had in China were not particularly effective. They have had breakthroughs through both the virus vaccines, so they are locking down the city. They are very sick the same thing in Hongkong. You can’t get into or get out of Hongkong and there is a quarantine if you try to go in. It is probably going to be like that for a while. We see a couple of isolated spots in Europe that are having outbreaks. It is a different picture around the world here and this is normal for virus behavior. There are going to be variants that are going to evolve at different times in response to the vaccines. They are going to evolve in different parts of the world. The spread is going to be different in Europe, in China, and here. We are sort of over it here. I am going to predict, and I wrote a couple of articles that omicron was in fact the beginning of the end. It may be but we’ve got a couple of little surges coming. We are going to have a surge in April and May here. It will raise around three to four weeks behind Europe. We will probably get a surge of another variant in the fall. Is that going to change our lifestyle? Probably not. What we should have to do even though it is not required is be careful around anybody who is ill. If you see people sniffling or coughing, make sure you stay away. Keep your distance probably wear a mask anyway voluntarily indoors around groups and certainly on public transportation. Keeping surfaces clean and washing hands is good in general anyway but of course, this is an airborne virus you are more worried about coming in close contact. That’s pretty much we are going to expect. I don’t see there’s going to be any major public health changes here either in Maui, Hawaii, United States point forward. We are certainly not going to be locking down or doing anything like that again.
BS: Good. We are going to feel pretty good about that. Our time is going out quickly. We are hoping to at least be able to say right now that you are feeling optimistic and will go on listening to Yumi if you’ve got the radio on. She’s got some really great things. She is talking about with her Global Citizens Initiative. We are going to finish up the show with that. Hopefully, will be seeing you later today Norm oh tomorrow.
YK: Yes, definitely.
NE: Thank you, aloha.
BS: Yumi, now this kind of changes us because we got off. Norm has checked in with us on a lot of shows and it’s really helped the people of Maui a lot, especially at times when they were just trying to locate a place for testing or to understand what they should do if they had symptoms, etc. Right now, we are talking world peace and changes that are going to be.
YK: A change in the world.
BS: A change in the world. We already have had a difficult year, three years almost of changing. What is projected for the upcoming group of kids in Scotland?
YK: We are really excited. We are right in the middle of getting all the offer letters out. We have still opportunities for a few spots. I am hopeful that we will get some students apply from Lahainaluna High School. Obviously, anybody is allowed to apply as long as you are a 9th grader, 10th grader, or 11th grader in high school and you have the desire to change the world you are more than welcome to apply. We do have limited financial aid for those who are not able to meet the financial needs. That’s going to be great too.
BS: How would they apply? Would they use your website?
YK: Yes. You would just go to www.globalci.org and there is a fellowship section on the menu. You just go there and they will guide you on how to apply. We are really excited for the Scotland program which is called the “Summit”.
BS: I was going to say though let’s say one more time Global Citizens.
BS: Globalci which would stand for Global Citizens Initiative.
YK: Dot org.
BS: Dot org, okay. I know that is hard sometimes when you are trying to write something down so global obviously pretty simple ci.org, o-r-g.
YK: Yes, that’s right.
BS: Okay and then follow the path.
YK: Yes, then you click on the fellowship section and you have all the details there. Once you arrive, we have this beautiful program that’s way awaiting you. It will just start out by welcoming you. There are going to be 35 other people just like you.
BS: You stay in the dorms.
YK: Yes, they will be. Everybody will still be staying out there at the dorms. We will be all eating together and just getting to know one another to become family.
BS: You will be there?
YK: Yes, I will be there too for sure.
BS: That’s an important part of this.
YK: There are activities in the afternoon. The mornings are dedicated to more academic sessions where they will be led by Phillips Exeter Academy teachers to have discussions. It is all about this year is all about sustainability. Sustainability can relate to how to sustain the environment but also how to sustain even your personal health. There are so many different types of sustainability but that’s the theme. The fun part is that first day is all about you will actually get a mentor. One-on-one mentorship is matched up so that you will have a mentor throughout the nine-month fellowship program. You will also have a teaching assistant during the summit.
BS: You are only there for nine days but then you are saying that for the following nine months. After that, you will have this person available so that you can finish up a project that you will be working on as part of this transition in your life. You will go from there to having that as part of your psyche for the rest of your life.
YK: Well, I think it’s really done incredible things. First of all, it allowed students to gain the confidence that they too can change the world. Now, they have the tools and resources, and mindset to do so. Secondly, they are actually impacting their home community. One student for example was very much into saving the planet, being environmentally conscious. What he did was he wanted to collaborate with a non-profit in the area in Connecticut and make put solar energy panels on the school so that they could save some electricity and that’s what they did. Another one, also another student wanted to be eco-friendly. He created these buckets for batteries or electronic goods so that it won’t just be thrown away but into a special bucket so that they could recycle or throw away in an appropriate manner.
BS: That’s very important here in Maui especially because a lot of things you try to do your best to recycle but a lot of things don’t leave the island. That it’s another difficult thing actually getting things off the island. There was a point where people were doing their best to recycle but then learning that a lot of things were ending up in the trash anyway. It really is a difficult one so maybe whoever comes from Maui will be able to have that as part of their thoughts too.
YK: Absolutely, knowing it’s broad. It doesn’t have to be about sustainability in terms of the saving the planet. It can be other things for example there was one student that did it on their project on supporting the close to blind young people. She created a platform where they used their hands and made pottery out of various through clay. She sold that so that we’ll just for a minimal amount like ten dollars or one dollar. They would have a community and collaborated together. It was just a support network for I guess handicapped through their eyes. It can really be as narrow as you want or as large as you want.
BS: I think it starts there. It is kind of we were talking just driving over here about peace and how especially young people could have an idea that could go forever. It could change the world. That we should all be listening whether it’s just about your family, just about a school, just about anything. If we all stop and come up with the ideas that we have or maybe you pass them on through something. Most people are going to say to you it’s ridiculous but whatever it is if it is your thought it’s nice to be heard. You are letting young people be heard.
YK: Absolutely. That’s one of the most important things to be heard and to know that you too can make a difference. Also, instead of for example thinking about Afghanistan and the Taliban you start to think of Afghanistan and my two friends Jawed and Aziza. That too makes a difference in terms of just how the press or how the media portrays things versus having an actual friend. Having an actual friend in Ukraine or even Russia or all over the world I think can make a difference. Learning about their perspective makes a huge difference.
BS: We are right now at the two-minute warning. Believe it or not that it is interesting everything you are saying because we do all have to do our best to make a difference. I keep saying things like this that are kind of a little off to some people. Let’s all remember with every day of our life if you could help somebody. You might see a woman carry with two kids trying to load her groceries into the car stop and help her or anything like that. It is happening everywhere around you today. Anything we do with kindness and love and caring changes the world.
BS: Let’s all try to do that today.
BS: Let’s do something for someone.
YK: That sounds great, Betty. It is a rippling effect.
BS: I think it is too. We’ll have Danny Couch coming back on in a minute who kind of sings us out and sings us in. That’s one of my favorites. When you come down to that song, I love Hawaii. It is the greatest thing in the world being able to be here. We all grew up differently. I grew up in Buffalo New York the home of the Irish. I am wearing the green today and here’s Danny. Let’s kind of have our little moment again with Danny Couch. Let’s love Hawaii and love everywhere in the world. Love the Ukraine. Love to everybody. Aloha.