Gulliver Prep senior Kai Ito has not forgotten his heritage. He works every Saturday as a kindergarten teacher’s assistant at the Hoshuko, Inc., a Japanese school in Miami.
“It’s a way of keeping up with the Japanese language,” he says. “I actually was a student at a Japanese school. You graduate from the school after eighth grade. After you graduate, you still want to keep up your Japanese, so you go back and volunteer.”
Ito immediately asked if he could volunteer every Saturday. His first assigned task was being a librarian.
“After the first year, they moved me up to become an assistant teacher,” he says. “I love talking to the kids. Not only do I assist the class, I play with the kids on the playground and talk with them. It’s a very nice way to spend your Saturday.”
Ito makes time from his busy schedule for the Saturday school. At Gulliver, he is the president of student council.
“I’ve always been involved in student government,” he says.
to’s goal is to improve school spirit at Gulliver.
“My job is to unify the school and bring more spirit,” he says. “I want to make pep rallies mandatory. Alot of seniors don’t, but I want them to stay.”
Ito is also the language ambassador of Gulliver.
“I’m the first; when Gulliver has open house, I’m representing the World Language Department,” he says. “I’m showing off how great our language department is.”
In fact, he realized the importance of knowing different languages when he spent two weeks in Africa working with kids at a shanty city for the Tehobo Project.
“It was like what I do in Japanese school, I assisted teachers there in classes,” he says. “That was a pivotal moment in my life. These kids were very poor and I was very touched by being there. It was life changing for me.”
When he returned to Miami, he says he started collecting skills that could impact his ability to help people. Those skills include learning languages and being involved with the business club.
“I started having an interest in business after that,” he says. “When I went to Africa, I started to think about what I want to become. I want to work for some financial corporation like the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank’s International Financial Corporation.”
Ito says he was impressed by how ready the children were to learn.
“They really didn’t have a great teaching facility and they didn’t have a great education,” he says. “These kids, I believe, could be very successful. These kids are ready to learn and they want to learn. I want to help these people.”
Along with a love for languages, Ito loves sports. He is a three-sport athlete, running cross-country and track, and playing soccer.
“This year I was fortunate to become captain of the cross-country team,” he says.
Ito plans to attend college and he has made applications to the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Michigan and the University of Miami. He is also looked at going to school in Japan.
“I hope to major in international business or international relations,” he says. “I’m interested in international studies because you study the economics and society of countries. It’s a very important way to learn about a country and a culture. You can’t just go in to help a country, you have to understand it.”
By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld