Okinawan American awarded Nisei Week Pioneer Spirit Award

Okinawan American awarded Nisei Week Pioneer Spirit Award

(From right to left) 2017’s Nisei Week Queen Jordyn Adachi and Okinawan American Pioneer Spirit Awardee Kitty Sankey on August 23 at the Double Tree Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles


August 28, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

By Sadao Tome


On August 23, Okinawan American Kitty Sankey, age 69, was awarded the Nisei Week Pioneer Spirit Award for her contributions to the Japanese American community.

The award ceremony was held in Little Tokyo’s Double Tree Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles. This was part of the Nisei Week festivities for 2017.

A celebration was also held, which praised the achievements of those who received an award.


Sankey, who represented the five other awardees, said, “We plan to continue to make an effort to foster goodwill not only among Japanese Americans and Americans, but also between the U.S. and Japan.”


About 300 people participated in the celebration. Twelve people from the Okinawa Association of America gathered to celebrate Sankey’s achievement.

Sankey’s long-term contributions to not just the Okinawa Association, but also to the Japanese American community as a whole were recognized, resulting in this award.


Sankey’s parents are both from Okinawa, but Sankey herself was born in Tokyo.

She graduated Kubasaki High School in Okinawa, and after graduating University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), she earned her teaching credential from the California State University, Long Beach from which she started her teaching career.

She also took part in many Japanese American organizations to foster friendship and goodwill between U.S. and Japan.

She was involved in volunteer work as the vice president of the Japanese Women’s Society of Southern California, president of a Japanese American citizens organization in Southern California, and was part of a scholarship committee for Okinawan Americans.


Meanwhile, the Nisei Week Court, elected on August 19, also attended the celebration.

Third-generation Okinawan American Jordyn Akari Terukina, age 24, was elected as one of the princesses during the coronation ceremony.

Terukina earned her degree in Health Science from California State University, Dominguez Hills. She now works as a therapist at a hospital.

Her father is a second-generation Okinawan American.

Terukina herself was born in Gardena, California where the Okinawa Association of America office is located.


During the Nisei Week Parade on August 20, Sankey, along with the five other awardees and many supporters rode in a convertible car down Little Tokyo to spread good cheer, thereby livening up the celebration.


This year was the 18th year of presenting the Pioneer Spirit Award since it was established by the Nisei Week Foundation, which also makes it is a relatively new Nisei Week event.

But this event plays a major role and is rated highly not only among Japanese Americans, but also in the U.S. community as well.

There is no doubt that this will continue to be a highly celebrated event.


(English translation by T&CT and Chelsea Ashimine)


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