By Jun Funahashi, Kapi‘o Staff Writer
Linda Fujikawa’s final message for her Japanese 290 class was a lesson in both language and life.
“You are not human ‘be’ but a human ‘being,’” said Fujikawa. “We are human beings. The ‘ing’ is there for a reason. The ongoing “ing” does not stop here. Therefore, if there is an ‘ing’ to make something happen, one need to believe in something. More than believing, I think, is trusting and respecting. If one can trust and respect oneself, belief can happen.”
The lesson demonstrated Fujikawa’s unique way of unpacking a word to help students understand its real and potential meanings.
“Have a wonderful weekend,” she would say, emphasizing the “ful” in a way that made students understand how “wonderful” meant “full of wonder.”
Fujikawa retired last semester after more than 30 years at Kapi‘olani Community College.
As a language teacher, Fujikawa engaged students and community leaders to present a wide variety of events aimed at promoting fellowship, understanding and peace, including a suicide prevention walk, International Education Week, Japan Society cultural events, and many more.
Her commitment to international peace and understanding led her to found the International Café. She and her husband Robin also established the Aloha Aina Gen’s Award for student leaders in honor of her late son.
Fujikawa traces her love of teaching to her days teaching English in Korea as a member of the Peace Corps. There she developed teaching materials, trained Korean teachers, and provided cross-cultural training for volunteers at Hanyang University.
In 2015, Fujikawa was honored as one of the University of Hawai‘i Community College system’s 50 Finest for her contributions to the quality and success of our local community colleges.
Simply by talking to students, she raised interest in her projects and ensured broad participation. As one of her students, I grew through her lessons and was inspired by her caring spirit and energy.
Fujikawa said her motivation was simple: “Students — They are my treasures and were like my Christmas gifts.”
Fujikawa plans on spending her retirement years taking care of her grandson Logen and working on a new project, Gen’s Boat.
Gen’s boat, again named after her late son who was an avid fisherman, is located at Mouna Arts and Culture Village in Wai‘anae. It’s a place where people from different backgrounds can come to sample vegetables from the Mouna Farm and create art as part of the Mouna Arts and Culture Village.
The project is in keeping with Fujikawa’s new slogan: “Let us cross the walls of self to build upon the heart of humanity together, one person at a time.”
Fujikawa’s vision and passion are aimed toward a much wider outlook now. I believer her new slogan is relevant to all of our educational pathways. Having learned from this wonderful professor, I feel fortunate to have had her in my life.
Before departing, Fujikawa shared a last message for all KCC students.
“Enjoy,” she said. “Enjoy this time of your life fully. Be not only awake but aware of all the opportunities at this very special time of your life. Explore all.
“Nana korobi ya oki (fall down seven times, get up eight),” she continued. “Don’t be afraid to fall. Get lost. Enjoy the journey.”