From my family’s three-bedroom apartment in Kobe, Japan, I would watch movies, television shows and sporting events, things that shaped my views of the United States of America, perceiving it to be the capital of cool, the home of my heroes: Michael Jackson, Will Smith and Jim Carrey. I saw the U.S. as a place where you can become something, a place where people go and achieve their dreams, no matter how insurmountable.
Since the age of 8—when my father introduced me to the Thriller album—I was highly captivated by the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. His alienesque dance-moves, over-whelming stage presence and musical aptitude excited my curiosity, providing me with direction in my life. Someway, somehow, I wanted to be like this genius from the United States, this human being who possessed seemingly super-human abilities, a person capable of inspiring generations to come.
It was August of 2009, the month I received confirmation for a full scholarship to attend high-school in the United States, and I was filled with anticipation and anxiety to finally come to the place I dreamed of since childhood. I readied my luggage for take off to Dallas, Texas to attend Lovejoy High School, the institution where I would spend my junior year.
I was placed with a nice middle-class family in Dallas, Texas—the Kunzumans; they would become a second family to me, feeling fully cared for by my kind host-parents and inviting children. I befriended many kids from Lovejoy Highschool and I absorbed the American mentality and lingo from them. To the Japanese, Americans seem so foreign and alien, these people who spoke a different language and dressed so oddly. Socializing with American high-school kids, I realized that Americans weren’t so different after all; they shared similar worries, values and goals with Japanese youth.
My first stay as an exchange student in United States further grew my love for American culture and I was eager to come back a seasoned visitor. I came with virtually no conversational English skills but my one-year stay developed fundamental abilities in: speaking, reading and listening. I still had a long way to go and I went back to Kobe, Japan determined to become fluent in English, taking up English as my major in college.
I lucked upon a second opportunity as an international student, this time in college, at the University of South Florida in Tampa. It was different this time around; already a seasoned visitor with developed English skills, I was eager to meet, not just Americans, but students from around the world: India, Saudi Arabia, China, the Philippines. I enjoyed learning about other cultures and delving into their different views and schools of thought, inspiring me to learn more about diversity.
Like my time in Texas, exposure to these diverse attitudes and values revealed a common thread between global youth. Today’s young minds have similar struggles: a changing economy, expectations from the media, generation gaps; and also similar hopes and dreams: travel, vibrant lifestyle, boundless future.
My interest in how globalization and technology are uniting global youth inspired me to start this digital publication—RedDeer International, which is a platform for global youth to voice their unique views on everything from politics, religion, fashion, entertainment and philosophy. There is a need them to hear what other what other young people have to say on every topic, the message being that they all belong to a similar tribe–#GLOBALYOUTH.
Similar to how Michael Jackson inspired me as a child, I want to inspire young people in every country to be curious, go out of their comfort zones, chase after their dreams and be somebody. I want them to know that they are not alone, that there are people like them who have the same worries and anxieties and also the same aspirations. I want a platform for them to learn about global news, global affairs, fashion, food, travel and culture as the world changes swiftly in the digital age.
This is #GLOBALYOUTH; this is the #DIGITALAGE; this is REDDEER INTERNATIONAL.
CEO/President of RedDeer International