The American School in Japan is pleased to announce Sofie Kusaba (Grade 12) as the first recipient of the Strength and Courage Award. This scholarship award was created by the Board of Directors to recognize the strength and courage of the survivors of Jack Moyer’s abuse and is presented to an ASIJ student who has displayed extraordinary courage and personal strength in the area of service either in or out of school. The award is ¥1 million towards the future higher education of the recipient.
Sofie was presented with the award by representatives of the survivors of Jack Moyer’s abuse, known as the “Thirteen Sisters,” at a ceremony on the ASIJ campus on April 4. Among the other attendees were students, faculty, staff and Board Members as well as several of the survivors’ family members and friends.
Sofie created an outreach program called “Nagomi Art” to work with people with mental disabilities in the local area. In her work, Sofie merged her creative skills and passion for art by designing artistic activities to carry out with the participants. “I already knew of the mental health benefits of art, and how happy I feel after creating something, so I believed that art could bring happiness to them as well. My dreams were big, but I envisioned that art could rejuvenate,” Sofie wrote in her essay. Her activities proved to be so successful that Sofie expanded by recruiting additional volunteers to help her meet the demand. A year and a half later, there are now 126 members in the volunteer group. In addition to the strength and courage she demonstrated in launching an initiative outside the structure of any existing club or organization, Sofie showed tremendous compassion and commitment to helping others. Sofie plans to attend the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) next year, where she is looking forward to developing her artistic talent even further.
In addition to the award, the group presented Sofie with a specially-created etegami artwork by another alumna that symbolizes their unique bond.
Deserving students were nominated by faculty, counselors and administration in January and invited to submit an essay describing the ways in which strength and courage played a role in their lives, and in a project or initiative they had led. These essays were shared with the Child Protection Task Force, which includes students, counselors, administrators and a member of the ASIJ Board of Directors. The essays were also shared with the “Thirteen Sisters.” Nominees were interviewed by members of the Child Protection Task Force, who ultimately selected the winner.
The Award is a tribute to the survivors of Jack Moyer’s abuse and the initial contribution for this scholarship was generously donated by Janet Simmons ‘76, a survivor who has been instrumental in these efforts. ASIJ thanks the many other alumni, parents, friends of ASIJ and faculty who have contributed to the award fund. All donations made to the Award are matched by ASIJ as part of its commitment to honor the survivors for their courage. Their work has helped us create a safer and brighter future for our students, both those who are here now, and those who will follow in the years ahead.