We’re continuing our Volunteer Spotlight feature throughout April in honor of Volunteer Appreciation Month! This feature highlights Elizabeth, who has not only volunteered with us but now serves as our Communications Intern this Spring!
1) Tell us about yourself!
I am currently a senior undergrad at the University of Southern Maine and am double-majoring in Communication and Sculpture. I have always had a love for international cultures, particularly those that offer different perspectives, histories, values, and traditions to the West. Since I was a kid, Japan has had a special place in my heart. While I have studied in South Korea for a semester, I have only spent a 10 day sojourn in Tokyo, so I hope to make it back to Japan someday soon and really get to see the country!
2) How did you get involved with Friends of Aomori?
I became involved with FOA around two years back when I bonded with the then-president Patricia Parker – who had lived and taught in S. Korea – after I had just returned from my own excursions. I expressed my interests in volunteering with FOA in one of our conversations, and there you have it, I’ve been volunteering since!
3) What kind of volunteer work did you do for FOA?
So far most of my volunteer time has gone to helping with the put-up and take-down of the MAPS exhibits, but I just recently participated in the 2017 Japan Culture Day in Bath – helping people try on yukata (while learning myself how to wear one properly!) and generally assisting in the proceedings.
4) What was your favorite moment from volunteering?
I think my favorite moment in volunteering so far was the opening day of the first MAPS exhibit last year at the Space Gallery in Portland. I was a neputa guard (making sure no one ran into them) and it was really something to see the gallery filled to capacity, with all the visitors – young and old – enjoying the exhibit that the volunteers, board members, and artists had put so much time and effort into. Definitely a night to remember.
5) What will you take with you from volunteering with FOA?
To be honest, there are a whole host of things that volunteering with FOA has given me, but I suppose the largest take-away is the knowledge I have gained about the Maine-Aomori Sister-State relationship and how I have been able to educate people about it as well. Other than that, I think the community of volunteers is truly something special; there’s so much camaraderie and positive energy that it makes all of the time worth while!