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For Justin Kawaguchi, a fifth-generation Japanese-American, the lack of diversity where he grew up had a profound impact on his identity.

He grew up in Thousand Oaks, where he was the only Asian-American kid in his class.

It wasn’t until he started attending summer school at the Senshin Buddhist Temple in Los Angeles that he realized he didn’t look like his friends.

“I would go back to school in elementary school and talk about my summer and I realized my friends in elementary school were really different than my friends throughout the entire summer,” Kawaguchi said.

Advocating for social change and informing youth is part of his work as a National Youth Student Council Youth Representative for the Japanese American Citizens League, a national civil rights organization.

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