We’re fortunate at Jolkona to have a group of stellar volunteers. They’re a mixed bunch coming from all over. But they all have one thing in common: they’re passionate about engendering change – for the good. Meet one such volunteer: Takuhiro Kodani. Takuhiro is 22 and comes from Tottori, a small village in the south west of Japan. He’s a regular at the Jolkona office and just started his own Jolkona campaign. Check it out here. I caught up with him and asked him a few questions about his time here and a little more about the campaign and the project he’s supporting.
So Takuhiro, what brings you to Seattle?
I came here to study International Business. I’m currently taking an International Business program at Bellevue College.
Are you enjoying your time here?
Yes, absolutely. I’m really enjoying Seattle life – beautiful days and great food!
Are you looking forward to going back to Japan or will you be sad to leave Seattle?
Actually, I will be sad. Obviously life is very different in Japan. I think I like the lifestyle and culture better here in Seattle; it suits me!
How long have you been interning here at Jolkona?
Since May. So a little over three months.
Why did you decide to get involved with Jolkona?
For two reasons: for a long time now I’ve been interested in non-profit operations and management. The culture of non-profits in Japan is very different from those in the US. So I wanted to experience and learn those differences. Secondly, I am also interested in empowerment projects, especially in developing countries. Last year I stayed in Bangladesh for three months and what I experienced there had a big impact on me. I realized that I wanted to do something to empower those less fortunate than myself. Then I found out about Jolkona. I saw what it was doing and it really appealed to me.
Is this your first time working with a non-profit?
Yes it is.
How has the experience been so far?
It’s been great. I’ve learned so much from Jolkona and its members, a lot of which I could never learn from studying.
Tell us a bit about the volunteer work you do and the projects you’re involved with.
Mainly I’m in charge of promoting Jolkona’s Japenese projects. There are 6 Japanese projects, so I promote them through social media like Facebook and Twitter. In addition to that, I supported Jolkona’s co-founder, Adnan Mahmud, when he came to Japan to give a series of talks in four cities. I helped promote his events through a Japanese Web magazine and by putting him in touch with other non-profit social entrepreneurs.
So you’re running your own campaign. Why did you decide to do this?
When I came to Seattle I met and talked to lots of people. Many times I was asked about Fukushima and the Tohoku region which was devastated by the Tsunami in April of 2011. The only thing I was ever really able to say was that current situation was still bad and that a lot more help was needed to complete the rebuilding. I myself then began wondering what I could do. I knew Jolkona had several Japanese projects which supported the rebuilding of Tohoku, so I decided to get involved myself and support Japan from Seattle. So that’s why I’m running this campaign.
Can you tell us a bit more about the campaign?
This campaign supports ETIC, a Japanese non-profit organization which helps young leaders who are trying to rebuild the Tohoku region by giving them technical assistance and leadership training. You can support their work by making a donation from as small as $5. My goal is to fund 5 EITC leaders. My campaign started today!
What do you hope to show people by doing this campaign?
I want people to understand that, although the disaster happened over a year ago, there are still many challenges in the rebuilding the Tohoku region. The work is not finished and I don’t want it to be forgotten.
What would your advice be to young people who want to get involved in philanthropy?
First, I think it’s important to pay attention to what is going around you. If there is a problem that you can resolve, then take action. But there are so many resources available to us. The internet and online giving platforms, like Jolkona, are great examples of this.
Finally, are you confident you will hit your campaign target?
Yes, I am confident I’ll hit my target for the campaign. It’s a great project, and I really hope a lot of people will see that and help me fund it.
Check out Takuhiro’s campaign page and help him help others.
Want to start your own campaign for a project you’re passionate about? It’s easy! Click here to find out just how easy it really is!