PCHS graduate Brandon Marc Higa, delegate, 2014 U.S. – Japan Council Annual Conference

Oct 23, 2014 | PC Community


Brandon Marc Higa is a 1999 graduated of Pearl City High School. Brandon recently served as a delegate for the 2014 U.S.- Japan Council Annual Conference held last week in Honolulu. The conference is instrumental in building and bridging relations between our two countries. Brandon would like to share his experience and also encourage other Pearl City High School alumnus to become involved in the program.

"It would be great for PCHS graduates to participate in the college programs offered through the TOMODACHI Initiative." Brandon Marc Higa.

Photo courtesy of Brandon Marc Higa

Submitted by Brandon Marc Higa:

The Okinawan proverb ichariba-chode (lit. once we have met, we are like brothers and sisters) holds true for my experience as a 2014 ELP delegate.  I felt a distinct connection with my fellow ELP cohort during our first exchanges which took place weeks prior to the USJC Annual Conference.  By the time we finally met one another over dinner it felt as though we knew each other from a past life.  The more I listened to everyone’s stories it became obvious how our shared heritage as Japanese-Americans gave us purpose to dedicate our professional and personal lives to building bridges between U.S. and Japan.  Words cannot describe the surreal feeling of meeting complete strangers who share the same passion and commitment to a cause you feel strongly about. 

The underlying theme of the Tomodachi Initiative is that relationships matter.  To that end, I wholeheartedly believe the Tomodachi Emerging Leaders Program sets the standard.  The people to people connections I made with my cohort and USJC members brought the forefront the richest times of my young adult life.  Fond memories I had of living in Tokyo while working at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and the National Diet of Japan once again had significance.  I have not felt this connected to my Japanese-American heritage and passions for U.S.-Japan foreign relations since transitioning from my career in diplomacy to return to the islands.  The USJC Annual Conference provided the opportunity for me to revisit my research interests in U.S.-Japan security relations, as well as international exchanges between U.S. and Japan. 

So what happens next?  Immediately following the conference, I did two things; reach out and thank the USJC regional membership for hosting the conference and to take the next step in building our relationships together; and reach out to friends and colleagues who I will mentor to apply for the 2015 ELP cohort in Tokyo. 

As a personal takeaway from the conference, I haven’t decided whether to challenge or accept Mr. George Takei’s advice for fellow actors to abstain from running for office.  Personally, I think he would have made a fine Councilmember, although not holding office has not held him back from successfully advocating for progress and social change for Japanese-Americans and LGBTIQ individuals.  He clearly garners the followers, fan base and adoration so many dream of.

Photo courtesy of Brandon Marc Higa

Brandon Marc (center) is pictured with legendary Star Trek television series actor Mr. George Takei (left)

and Mr. Brad Altman (right) at the 2014 Tomodachi U.S.- Japan Council Annual Conference.

Photo courtesy of Brandon Marc Higa

Brandon Marc is pictured with Congressional District 1 candidate Mr. Mark Takai.

Photo courtesy of Brandon Marc Higa

Brandon Marc is joined by international fashion designer Anne Namba from Anne Namba Designs.

Photo courtesy of Brandon Marc Higa