If you read our May 4 edition, you know by now that one of The Hawai‘i Herald’s pillars for 26 years — Gwen Battad Ishikawa — has moved on to a new career. Although I did not work with Gwen for all 26 years of her tenure here at the Herald, we did work together for some 20 years. For the last 14 years, the two of us have sent every issue of the Herald to press. We were together for so long, we could kind of read each other’s minds. People laugh about our local language . . . the “you know, yea?” “Yea, yea . . .” Well, that was Gwen and me. I miss her a lot — not just because of our cryptic language, but because she is the nicest, humblest and most thoughtful person you could ever know.
Fortunately for me, she was willing to continue helping us with our layouts. Of course, the first issues I sent her to lay out after her departure were 24 pages (May 4) and 28 pages in this issue. And, folks, we are doing all of this by email and text. Sorry Gwen . . .
The thought of trying to find a replacement for Gwen gave me a major headache that wouldn’t go away. I don’t have the time to review 20 resumes and interview 10 applicants. So I looked to our contributing writers and selected Jodie Chiemi Ching, who has been writing for the Herald on a freelance basis for about a year. Jodie is now our half-time staff writer.
As you know, the Herald isn’t your typical publication — it is rooted in our AJA community, and while Jodie still has much to learn, she is at least off to a good start. She knows and has been involved in some of the cultural activities of the Japanese American and Okinawan community for many years. And she loves to write — Herald-type stories as well as creative writing. For this issue, Jodie spent most of her work time calling all of the Japanese Buddhist temples, statewide — just as Gwen did for years — to find out about their obon service and bon dance plans. She will soon be out and about, covering community events and activities.
Here’s a little bit about Jodie that you might want to know. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Japanese language and literature from the University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa. She spent a year studying at the University of the Ryukyus as a recipient of the Okinawa Prefectural Government scholarship for descendants of Okinawan immigrants.
She studies Okinawan dance with Frances Nakachi-Sensei and sanshin with — guess who — Grant “Sandaa” Murata-Sensei.
Jodie is also interested in the Seiwajyuku business philosophy and attends their lectures and programs. Finally, she is a wife and the mother of two sons.
So, please introduce yourself to Jodie when you see her at various community events.