“We invited Mya to do a workshop for our Global Classmates Summit delegates (August 2020). The delegates (eight from the U.S. and eight from Japan) were selected from a pool of candidates who participated in Kizuna Across Culture’s virtual exchange program. Through Mya’s workshop ‘Systemic Racism and U.S.-Japan Relations,’ we these future leaders of U.S.-Japan relations expanded their perspectives and became better informed about systemic racism. One of the U.S. delegates expressed that she finally understood the difference between racism and systemic racism. A Japanese shared that he not only learned about systemic racism in the U.S. but also became aware of systemic racism that exists in his own country. While all delegates were interested in this topic prior to the workshop, some were not comfortable discussing it. Mya created a safe space for delegates to ask questions and share their opinions. The workshop not only gave them more knowledge but equipped them with the right language to discuss systemic racism and most importantly, empowered them to take action to combat it. Many walked away with a new sense of obligation to speak up against prejudice and racism that occurs around them and use their voice to influence those in positions of power.”
Ayako Smethurst
President & Co-founder, Kizuna Across Cultures
“In September 2020, Mya delivered a highly informative, engaging, interactive and enjoyable webinar about the role of the nonprofit sector and issues of race in U.S.-Japan relations for a group of Japanese professionals. She skillfully and gently introduced them to topics they otherwise find difficult to access. I deeply appreciate Mya's approach, professionalism, and skillset, and am looking forward to working with her again very soon!
Stacy Hughes
Laurasian Institution
"[Mya’s webinar] was a great opportunity to understand more about U.S. communities, especially BLM issues. What I learned most is that all lives matter but black people have never been included in "all." I had believed that I knew about BLM before this session, But it was not enough and the explanation about "all lives matter" made me realize more about how important it is that people keep speaking out against this issue."
Japanese participant
Japan Outreach Initiative
"This course (August 2020) was a valuable experience, and I am so glad I participated. Mya covered topics and issues that I did not learn about during my childhood and public-school education, so I am grateful I could learn about these issues later in life rather than never having a chance to learn about them in a class setting. Additionally, thanks to Mya’s wide networks, there was an excellent variety of students in the course who all brought different perspectives. It is a rare and special opportunity to get to take a course on the sociology of racism and systemic and structural racism with such a varied group of classmates."
American participant
How Race and Ethnicity Shape American Life (August 2020)
"As I was born and grew up in Japan, I hadn’t studied about the history and the reality of ethnicity and race in the US. Even though I didn’t have enough confidence to share my thoughts in a class (mainly because of my English skill), I was thinking a lot and becoming emotional in every class. After every class, I had always shared what I learned from the class with my family to organize my thoughts. And one time, my mother was holding tears in her eyes and said she had no idea about the discrimination blacks had faced in history. At the beginning of the course Mya told us that the one of the goals of this course is to get confident and feel comfortable to talk about racial issues with people. I still feel a bit scared to make misunderstandings when I talk about those topics, but I am surely taking some steps that I started sharing my thoughts with my family and with my close friends. It is all thanks to this course and the open-minded discussion with the classmates. Taking this course definitely changed my mind. It may be the only meaningful thing that happened to me this year... during the time of pandemic."
Japanese participant
How Race and Ethnicity Shape American Life (August 2020)
“The Transitions Conference (September 2020) focuses on recently returned JET participants and how to readapt to life in America. We wanted returnees to gain insight into the racial tensions America is facing, to learn how to be an ally in any space they join and how they can apply it to their future relations with the Japanese community in and out of Japan. Mya’s session was one of the most popular sessions of the week. Attendees voiced their gratitude for this session not only because they felt further educated on diversity, but that they can apply what they learned in multiple spheres. Mya’s cadence and engagement were perfect for the online format we used. Often at the end of online sessions, the participants leave quickly because they are tired from the format, but most people stayed for an extended Q&A with her, eager to learn and discuss more. Mya made a point to highlight intersectionality that opened the space to everyone and highlighted that everyone has more to learn.”
Pacific Northwest JET Alumni Association
Transitions Conference Committee
“Mya led a virtual discussion for the DC Sushi Club on diversity and inclusion in the US-Japan policy space in October 2020. In the leadup to the event, Mya was extremely responsive to our needs and worked with us to develop a presentation tailored to our public policy-focused membership. Diversity and inclusion was a new topic for the Sushi Club, so it was very important to us that the conversation around the topic was thoughtful, informed, and approachable for audience members from a variety of backgrounds. Mya was able to deliver on all these points and more during her session. Her presentation was educational, clear, and relatable, and her expertise and professionalism stood out significantly. Her responses to audience questions were also thoughtful and informative. Overall, Mya proved to be an ideal speaker and facilitator for our discussion on diversity and inclusion.”
DC Sushi Club

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