For Immediate Release — June 7, 2010 | Pacific
Public Affairs Officer: DoDEA Pacific Director's Office | DSN: 644-5657
OKINAWA, JAPAN — June 7, 2010 — Longtime Department of Defense Dependents Schools Pacific Intercultural Coordinator Takashi Suyama will retire in June with nearly 42 years of dedicated service.
Mr. Suyama started with DoDDS in 1968 as a Host Nation teacher at the now closed Tachikawa Elementary School located in western Tokyo. He moved on to teach Japanese and English as a Second Language at Tachikawa Middle School which has also since closed.
In 1979, Mr. Suyama moved on to become the Intercultural Coordinator at the DoDDS Japan District Superintendents Office. His position was transferred in 1995 to the DoDDS Pacific Area Office in Okinawa, Japan. Although Mr. Suyama remains a member of the DoDDS Pacific director's office staff, he works primarily out of Yokota Air Base in mainland Japan.
Throughout his career, Mr. Suyama has developed and coordinated countless student activities and cultural events. These events, particularly in foreign countries like Korea and Japan, provided valuable reinforcement to classroom learning and real-world experiences that built trust and cultural understanding between children and their families of different nations.
Mr. Suyama was an original founder of the DoDDS Pacific Junior Science and Humanities Symposium in 1980. Although he had no scientific background, he worked closely with the Japanese government and major scientific institutions such as the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), National Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention (NIED), High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK), among others, to provide students an immersive experience in one of the world's premiere science centers: Tsukuba City, Japan.
He was instrumental in helping coordinate and support the recent JSHS event that took place in March. The JSHS event marked 30 successful years and has grown to include scientific presentations by over 100 students representing all DoDDS Pacific middle and high schools.
Mr. Suyama also introduced the soroban—a Japanese abacus—to DoDDS Pacific schools over 30 years ago. The soroban is highly prized by the Japanese for its ability to promote high level math abilities and American children enjoy learning both math and culture through DoDDS soroban clubs and host nation classes. He went on to develop an enduring partnership with the Soroban League of Japan. The League sponsors popular regional competitions for DoDDS students, many of which have received national media coverage and visits by dignitaries and high-ranking government officials over the years.
His other work included over 20 years of language festivals in the DoDDS Japan District and sponsorship of a Japanese world-champion kite maker who visited many DoDDS Pacific elementary schools to teach students the craft and skills associated with competitive kite flying.
Mr. Suyama also hosted an innovative event in 1999 which featured renowned origami artist Yoshio Sato. The origami master simultaneously led students from DoDDS schools located in Japan, Italy and the United States—via video-teleconferencing equipment—in creating their very own origami works of art.
Although Mr. Suyama is an employee of the Government of Japan, his entire career has been with DoDDS Pacific. His many contributions and visionary projects and special events throughout the years have provided students, families and teachers with lifelong, treasured memories of their overseas experience.
A special retirement event is planned for June 12 in Okinawa. Anyone that wishes to submit tributes, well-wishes, stories, photos, videos, or other memorabilia for a special memory book that will be presented to Mr. Suyama may send an e-mail to: PublicAffairs@pac.dodea.edu