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FDSTL’s Nitta Scholarship Is Awardedto Katie Ikemoto

The 2021 Nitta Scholarship has been awarded to Katie Ikemoto, who helped lead Orange County Buddhist Church through the lack of in-person events by designing videos on Mother’s Day and by creating a virtual “Obon at Home.”

Katie helped her teenage peers design, script, and advertise a series of 22 videos posted on YouTube and Zoom to keep the Sangha connected with the essence of Obon. Containing everything from food to games to Obon odori, this virtual festival was viewed by more than 25,000 people.

Perhaps Katie’s most striking quality is her passion for life in the face of adversity and her use of Buddhism to negotiate life’s rocky road. The COVID-19 pandemic affected all of us, but hit Katie and the Ikemoto family especially hard, claiming the life of her father, Klete Ikemoto.

A 2019 Southern District YBA conference represented a turning point in her understanding of the Dharma.

“The part of the conference that stuck with me the most was our closing service,” she said. “(CBE Youth Director) Koichi Mizushima read, ‘In silently contemplating the transient nature of human existence, nothing is more fragile and fleeting in this world than the life of man.’ I left the conference in awe of the wisdom of such words and expressed it when my dad picked me up and drove me home. I told him how exciting the conference was but, more important, how awestruck I had been from the ‘White Ashes’ and its notion of impermanence and gratitude in our lives.

“Flash forward to April 2, 2020, and my dad’s heart stopped,” Katie continued. “He had been battling COVID-19 for two weeks and I had hoped he would come home soon. My mother and I were isolated from my sisters, leaving no room for grieving together. As I was crying in bed, I remembered the ‘White Ashes’ that had moved me that past summer. It was in this and the teachings that I was able to heal and appreciate what I had. Even as I was upset, saddened, and hopeless, the Buddhist teaching reminded me that our lives are impermanent. Nothing lasts forever. So I was able to find happiness and gratitude for my father’s life, healing those sad emotions.

“I had really needed Obon for my own personal healing and happiness in such a despairing year. My goal for ‘Obon At Home’ was to provide families with an Obon festival, but also a greater appreciation for these moments with families.

“I miss my father but I hope he is proud of me,” Katie said. “Impermanence expresses how nothing lasts forever, this pandemic being no exception. I dedicated the Obon to my father. I do Gassho while thinking of him. The teachings have guided me through happy and sad, good and bad, and have shown me my father’s everlasting presence in my life.”

Katie has been accepted to the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where she will begin her studies in communication. Her current career goal is in the field of marketing or creative directing.

In 1964, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Nitta of Watsonville bestowed a generous gift to the Federation of Dharma School Teachers League by establishing a scholarship. This award is to honor and give recognition to an outstanding Buddhist youth.

Congratulations to Katie Ikemoto as our 2021 scholarship recipient. We wish you the best in all of life’s endeavors.


1 Kommentar

10. Sept. 2021

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