It’s the day before you come to America. I know you’re thinking that you’re going there for a vacation like you did when you were 4 years old. But you’ll be gone for two months, and your return trip to Tokyo will be a brief one to attend your preschool graduation. Then, apart from the summer following your first year of school, you won’t be back again for 10 years.
When you first arrive in the United States, you will stay at a hotel. Shortly afterward, your family will move into an apartment before you start school in Newport Beach, California. When you enter the first grade, you will not understand a word spoken by your teachers or classmates. You will be pulled out of class by an education resource specialist who has been tasked to help you to learn.
You will also have wonderful friends and neighbors. You’ll join the Cub Scouts, and you’ll be raised to believe in your potential.
One day, you will meet Brianna Pievac, who will become a lifelong friend. Early in your life, you will sometimes wonder, “Why was I born with this condition?” Brianna will help you to see that you can have a productive life despite your circumstances. Life experiences will transform the way you think about yourself. It’s not going to be easy living in the U.S.
Your greatest achievements will be in your roles as spokesperson for The Shea Center and UCP of Orange County, and other organizations. Through those experiences, you will learn crucial life skills and recognize the importance of giving back to your community. You will meet people who you want to emulate in your life. They’ll show you what’s truly important, and you’ll discover that you cannot learn everything at school.
When you’re in fourth grade, school officials will try to place you in a special education classroom. Their lack of understanding of your condition will damage your self-worth and leave you with lasting emotional hurt. But you will also learn about the Christian faith and its key message that even if you walk away from God, he will never walk away from you. Your faith will sustain you when people around you are negative and tell you that you’re not smart enough.
You will struggle to understand why they doubt your abilities. You will internalize their distrust and start thinking badly about yourself. Later, when you enter high school, your self-doubt will hold you back. But your high school teachers and aides will help you to overcome your fears, and by your senior year, you will be bold enough to apply to study journalism at the University of Southern California (USC) — your dream school since you were 9 years old. Your application will be successful.
You will enter the campus feeling anxious, but also confident in the knowledge that everything that life has thrown at you so far was preparing you for this moment. You will like some of your classes and love your professors. You will get angry and upset. In the fall of 2018, you will develop stomach issues due to stress. Then, you will fail one class, and self-doubt will return. You’ll often wonder, “Am I good enough? Am I worth it?” And you will struggle with depression.
But you’ll also have two friends at USC, Timothy Lupo and Hawken Miller, who will teach you not to take yourself too seriously. I cannot tell you everything that I would like to in this letter. But remember, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something, because you will find a way. Take care, and enjoy your life. I wish I could relive mine. Love you.
Note: Cerebral Palsy News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disorder. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cerebral Palsy News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cerebral palsy.