The mission of the JIA Foundation is to connect and empower Japanese in America (JIA).
Our goal is to help JIA live fulfilling and productive lives with appreciation for our heritage, become good citizens in the US community with clear JIA identity, and develop effective communication among generations of JIA families and the communities we live in.
The JIA Foundation was founded in 2014 to meet the needs of the current wave of Japanese immigrants and expats who benefit greatly from Japanese language specific services. Since then, our programming has expanded to offer activities in English as well as Japanese.
Many of us come from Japan, but many other JIAs have grown up in the US or other countries. Though they may not be considered Japanese in a traditional sense–being multi-racial, of different race, ethnic group or nationality, or speaking a language other than Japanese—we are united in our common appreciation of Japanese culture and values and in our desire to learn and maintain them in ways that fit the needs and interests of each JIA. We respect the diversity of JIA and work to create collaborative and sustainable communities.
The key components of JIA programs are Education, Identity, and Community. The programs have specific but overwrapping objectives:
Heart-no-WA (Heart of WA)
There are many unknowns and pitfalls in living overseas where the language, culture, and system are all new to you. By offering educational seminars and workshops in Japanese on topics covering every aspect of JIA member’s lives, we help them find the resources they need to live fulfilling and productive lives in the US. Topics covered in the past include, “Raising children in the U.S.,” “US healthcare system,” “Mental health awareness,” “Long-term care in the U.S.,” and “Support for domestic violence survivors.” Heart-no-WA is a group of JIA professionals specializing in health and social services. Through working and learning together, we have been building the JIA community here in Washington. (“WA” is “kakekotoba” or pun of words, and it means Circle, Peace, and Washington.)
Rinkan-Gakkou (Japanese Summer Camp for Kids)
In 2018, we hosted our first annual Japanese-style overnight summer camp called Rinkan-Gakkou. (It literally means outdoors school in the forest.) JIA kids and their families participating in the camp learn and enjoy Japanese-style activities together such as sports, games, and cooking, all done in Japanese. Through the camp, though only for two days, they learn and experience some traditional yet timeless Japanese values like responsibility and respect for people and place. (An example is young kids cleaning their schools at the end of each school day. They even clean toilets!) Our hope is they develop more confidence and desire in having JIA identity and also friendships and leadership skills by interacting with each other. For their parents, it gives a much-needed networking opportunity in the JIA community as well as joy watching their kids learn about Japanese culture and the language.
SEIJIN-shiki USA (US-Japan Friendship Coming of Age Celebration)
“SEIJIN-no- hi,” or Coming of Age Day, is a national Japanese holiday held on the second Monday of January to honor young adults who turned the legal age of adulthood in the past year. It is a way of welcoming them into society and is an essential rite of passage for the Japanese people.
The inaugural SEIJIN-shiki USA was held in 2020 to recognize more than 130 new SEIJIN (new adults). It is an opportunity for new SEIJIN to start and celebrate the new chapter of their lives in the company of their families and friends. Our SEIJIN-shiki USA is held in English and welcomes not only Japanese people but their friends and others in the community who have an affinity and interest for Japanese culture. It is an opportunity for Japanese culture to be shared, and for friendships to be built and deepened amongst multi-national attendees from the community. To learn more, please visit the SEIJIN-shiki USA website.
Workshops and Forums
In addition to seminars on health and social services through Heart-no-WA, we host workshops on other topics: Youth leadership development, learning from local JIA businesses, legal issues specific to JIA, and social issues surrounding JIA. In 2021, we hosted a forum on racism and anti-Asian hate. We also have informal workshops where JIAs learn about American tradition like Thanksgiving and get more involved in volunteering and fundraising for JIA.
JIA Foundation is a 501(c)(3) NPO and operated solely by volunteers. If you would like to support our programs by making tax-deductible donations to the JIA Foundation, please click here. We appreciate your support.
If you want to find more about us or subscribe to our newsletter, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.