My best qualities are often my worst qualities. The parts of me that are really good in one way make me just as bad elsewhere.
The qualities that have gotten me this far can probably be summed up by the phrase shikata ga nai — it must be done. I believe deeply in trying to be there always. I care about my work and when I find work I believe in, I will stay loyal to it.
The other side of that coin are the sacrifices I make to be that type of committed. I’ve accomplished much, poured my time and effort into school, The Daily Californian, ASB, soccer or that which I generally believe in. But focusing on the work is also one of my greatest weaknesses. At the end of the day, the most important part of my life isn’t what I’ve done with it, but the people in it.
The Pacific School of Religion is on a hill 314 steps from The Daily Californian office. 986 feet. 6,010 chicken nuggets. I walk up there sometimes to get out of my own head and remind myself that 314 steps and 111 years ago, my great-great-grandfather immigrated here to attend the Pacific School of Religion. I am separated from Joseph Kumazo Fukushima by one century and a five-minute walk, but I wonder if he could have ever imagined that some white-looking progeny of his would be going to college a stone’s throw from where he did.
I walk there, sit there and remind myself that no matter what I do in the present, the most important part of my life is the people I share it with — today, tomorrow or five generations from now. I am here because of him and 15 other great-great-grandparents, eight great-grandparents, four grandparents and the greatest mom and dad of all time — their choices and the little moments that brought them to America and, eventually, to Los Angeles.
I can help save a hundred thousand Daily Cals, write a million articles or pass a billion classes, but I can’t believe in that. I have to believe in the people I’m around. So this column is for y’all. This is a thank you all for the loves, the laughs, the tears and all that you’ve taught me. This is a promise that I’m going to be here for you. Always.
Thank you Mum and Dad, for teaching me how to be a good person and how to love others. Thank you for driving me to soccer games, telling me when I’m wrong and for loving me. I love you and I hope one day I can be half the parents you are.
Thanks Griffin, for teaching me how to be strong and to smile even when the challenges in life seem completely insurmountable. Thank you for putting up with me running late to school every day. Thank you Farmor and Farfar and Grandma and Grandpa for teaching me to love reading and to make a place feel like home. Thank you to the Sundeens, Strathmanns, Fukushimas for teaching me what a family is and how much that means. No one chooses their blood, but even if I could, I would always choose you.
Thank you to the MahCandelarias for running into us in a Little Tokyo grocery store and teaching me that a family could also be something you make. Thank you Arianna for being the eye of the storm and for always being there, even when I didn’t know I needed it. Thank you to Jeff for being my first best friend. Thank you both for teaching me what it means to have a lifelong friend.
Hey LoS, thank y’all for being yourselves. Thank you for teaching me how to break the rules and then make your own. John, Alyosha, Kieran, Julian, Samuel, Jason, Andrew — thank you for always having my back. I’m sorry if I haven’t been here, but my home is always your home, this is forever.
Remember Eagle Rock? Thank you for teaching me about difference, what it means to be white and for my love of soccer. Thank you CJ, for teaching me how to fall in love completely. Thank you Taylor for the spontaneityall the laughs.
Kaelyn Lee. Thank you for teaching me how to be a day one and to appreciate the fun in front of us. Thanks Tri-Alpha for teaching me to party with Roxanne, stay alive and chef. Thank you Dhangur, for teaching me how to study and for putting up with my Daily Cal s—.
Thank you to the eclectic friends from the third floor lounge, who taught me that I belonged here and that I should always be driven. We are the greatest freshman dorm of all time. Thank you to Roshan, Kishan, Ethan and Xuanchen, who also put up with my endless meetings and interviews. Thank you for teaching me to play basketball.
Thank you Regents Street, for teaching me that home was anywhere I could find beautiful people and for giving me a place in your home. Our time together was all kinds of random, spontaneous and beautiful and I will love you all forever.
Thank you to The Daily Californian for giving me a place to belong from the first moment I stepped into the office. Thank you to Josh Yuen, who took a chance on me, taught me how to be a sports reporter and taught me to always greet people with a smile. Thank you Sakura, who taught me how to be more than just a sports reporter. Thank you to Kaitlan and Courtney, who taught me that I could make the friendships of a lifetime here.
Thank you to the spring 2020 editing team for being the best people I’ve ever worked with. Thank you to the sports department, which will always be my home, and the sports editors who built that house. Thank you to every editor and writer I’ve worked beside.
Thank you to Lisi and Mallika and Jocelyn and Vivitsaa for making every day and every step of the way worth smiling through. Thank you Connor, for teaching me that no matter how far apart we are, friendship will always be there.
Thank you to all the people I forgot. Thank you to the academy. Thank you to all the people who have high-fived, fist-bumped and been here, big or small. Thank y’all for being y’all.
Because of you I am Jasper Kenzo Sundeen, Japanese-American Angeleno from Eagle Rock High School, Arroyo Museum Science Magnet and, now, UC Berkeley.