Naomi Nakamura, a graduate student in the Merrimack College Community Engagement Program, is a student leader actively building bridges between people from other countries and local community members. For many years, Naomi has been engaged in language interpretation, cultural brokering, and support for expatriates and immigrants. Here at the college, Naomi has shared her expertise through a fall assistantship with the Office of International Student Support where she has supported international students in navigating campus life. Naomi's vision is to empower individuals from other countries through networking, resource-sharing, and community-building. She envisions a world where individuals can embrace their full identities and connect with one another across those identities.
My passion for supporting foreign-born residents began when I came across the term, "third culture kids," which refers to those who live in a country different from the one on their passport. I became involved in an international organization, Families in Global Transition, which supports families moving globally, and I have been serving as a local leader. Working as an interpreter, my interest in community-building among non-U.S. nationals and local citizens has grown further. Language translation does not always solve problems for people who have different cultural backgrounds. I wondered how I could help people from other countries feel safer and happier in their communities. I came across the Merrimack College Community Engagement Program where I am learning how to do this work. I am learning more about issues pertinent to social justice, equity, and the well-being of every single member of society. I intend to build bridges between foreign nationals and their local communities by providing meaningful resources, creating space and time to feel safe and secure, and thinking together about how to live in a community as responsible citizens. My vision is to support foreign nationals to embrace their identities and empower their independence.