The Third Annual Strength and Courage Award

The American School in Japan is pleased to announce that high school seniors Emma Cattell and An-Chi Tsai jointly received the third Strength and Courage Award. This 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 yearly 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 and will be split among this year’s recipients to go towards their future higher education.

Emma and An-Chi were presented with the award by Anush Balian, PTA President, and Tiffany Farrell, child safeguarding liaison for the Board of Directors, at a ceremony on the ASIJ campus on April 4. Among the other attendees were students, faculty, staff and Board members.

Both Emma and An-chi have been outstanding, selfless community members throughout their time at ASIJ. Emma has distinguished herself as a leader in the Daruma literary magazine, while An-Chi has pursued her interest in using science to improve communities through her leading role in our iGEM club (International Genetically Engineered Machine). Both have been strong leaders in Model United Nations (MUN), and have raised awareness for a variety of issues through their exemplary leadership in SAGE (Students Advocating for Gender Equity).

In an effort to increase communication and connections across the student body, Emma and An-chi also joined forces to create What’s the Dealio?—a podcast designed to share student ideas, thoughts and success stories the inspiration for which, in part, began with the first Strength and Courage Award. As An-Chi explains in her award application, the idea stemmed in part from hearing of the things Sofie Kusaba, the Award’s first recipient, was able to accomplish and, in addition, a desire to learn and tell others about the passions of her peers,  “….to celebrate the diversity in talent and thought, and to bring the student body closer together…”

Service can take many forms, and by presenting the Strength and Courage Award to both Emma and An-chi, we are recognizing the combined determination and service they have shared with ASIJ students, faculty and staff, and the wider school community.

Accepting the award, Emma reflected on her thoughts upon hearing of her nomination, “…I was surprised. The word ‘service’ for me always brings to mind images of UN Peace Corps helping refugees in war-torn areas, or working at a soup kitchen every weekend. My work with What’s the Dealio, SAGE, Daruma, Black History Month and MUN did not seem impactful or inspirational enough to be described as acts of ‘service’. I have not solved gender inequality or stopped the racial oppression that black people face. Although my contributions to the world do not conform to the dictionary definition of the word ‘service’, or the traditional idea of what service is, I have become a person who seeks and acts for change in order to create an ASIJ community that is connected and informed. Most importantly, I have tried to make my community a place that would become an example for the rest of the world to follow.”

In addition to their parents, teachers and peers, Emma and An-Che thank the survivors of Jack Moyer’s abuse, “The strength and courage of each of these women in speaking out against the years of silence perpetuated by this school should never be forgotten, and we accept this award acknowledging the serious and painful context behind it. We thank these women for their bravery and perseverance, and we hope current and future students continue to be inspired by their stories.”

Deserving students are nominated by faculty, counselors and administration in January and are 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 Safeguarding Task Force, which includes students, counselors, administrators and a member of the ASIJ Board of Directors.

This year, the class of ’87 jointly made a significant contribution of $7,700 to the award fund. 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.