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MINORI NAGAMOTO '01

Bob Christian Alumna Award Winner 2013/2014

Minori was the Joint National Director of Education for International Care Ministries in the Philippines, overseeing 80 learning centers benefiting 2,000 children and their families each year.  Minori's team searched out young children who are below the subsistence threshold and gives them free education, school supplies, a daily fortified-lunch as well as a scholarship to continue education at a public elementary school once they graduate from the program. This program has been in operation for six years and 93% of their graduates are still in school.

"I am truly grateful for the award. To me, the award is a clear indication of how impactful HKIS education was to me and continues to be for other budding global citizens. The school nurtured my hunger to succeed and thrive not just academically, but as a whole person. The joy is serving others and celebrating many cultures and perspectives is something I discovered at HKIS. The award is a wonderful source of encouragement and inspiration as I continue to grow as an individual and a professional." - Minori Nagatomo

Minori shared her experience and delivered her acceptance speech at the High School Graduation of the Class of 2014:

Thank you. I am so honored and grateful to receive this award. I feel like I was just sitting in that section not long ago. I didn't imagine then that I would be standing here today, receiving such an honor for the work that I deeply love.

I was reflecting on the wonderful class motto you have chosen for yourselves: "It always seems impossible until it's done." -inspiring words Nelson Mandella demonstrated in his own life.

I thought, "can this happen in real life? And in an ordinary life? In my and your everyday life?" And I realized that breaking through the impossible is happening around us every day. When I graduated from HKIS, my mother told me that even with a massive loan, we had enough money for me to go to university for just one year. Then, I will stop, work, and go back when I'd saved up enough money. A need-based scholarship brought us some relief, but going through four years of college without stopping seemed absolutely impossible, until the hard work and faith of a mother and what we believe to be a miracle made it possible.

Today, I get to see people breaking through the impossible all the time in my work. I work with people who live on about Hk$4 or less per day, people whose parents and grandparents were poor, and they believe their children and their grandchildren will be poor. [With new] basic information about health and livelihood...seeds of hope [are sown], and a dream, that maybe, just maybe it's possible for them to live a better life. These seeds bore fruit for people like Eusibio, who now earns a stable monthly income of HK$1,500 through organic farming. Or a mother who saved her baby by giving her a simple hydrating solution we taught her -- an amazing accomplishment given we work in communities where 25% of mothers have lost one or more children. Bringing her baby to a doctor seemed impossible, and so saving her baby seemed impossible too, until that one day ICM came and told her it's possible.

You might have faced lots of things that seemed "impossible" to get to today, but you did it, and I sincerely congratulate you -- today is a celebration of ALL that you have accomplished. And you might have wonderful and enormous dreams for the future, and you might already know that you'll have to break through "impossible" obstacles to get there. I am telling you today, just like I tell the people I love in the Philippines, it's possible. And I look forward to the day I see you at one of many reunions and homecomings, to hear about the things that were impossible, until you did it.

Thank you again, and I wish you best as you continue the exciting journey ahead of you. Congratulations.