By: Staff Writer Andrew Choi
U.S. Congressman Mike Honda visited MSJ on Thursday, March 12 to present to students and answer questions. Honda represents California’s 17th congressional district, which encompasses most of Silicon Valley, and has been in Congress since 2001. Government and Economics Teacher Jaime Richards invited Honda to talk to MSJ students in the fall, but due to the demands of campaign work, Honda was forced to delay his visit.
Richards and Digital Photography Teacher Bryan Farley allowed their students the opportunity to meet Honda and ask him questions during 4th Period in C120. Honda began the visit by introducing himself and asking students, “How many of you were born in a different country?” One of the ideas discussed was how the United States is the land of opportunity and how its freedom attracts people from all over the world.
Honda discussed his childhood roughly 70 years ago and how those years have shaped who he is today. He grew up speaking Japanese as his first language until he began elementary school and English became his dominant language. In the process, he lost some sense of culture and he regrets not maintaining his Japanese to this day. He regrets not asking enough questions in life, and he advised that students always ask questions, and asserted that there is no such thing as an embarrassing or personal question.
Growing up as a Japanese-American, Honda feels that being part of a different background can be difficult and challenging. Through his own experiences, he empathizes with the plight of immigrant children trying to adapt to their new surroundings. He called the immigration process “legal discrimination” and explained how one of his main goals for this term is to make immigration fairer for all.
Students proceeded to question Honda on a variety of different topics including his transgender granddaughter, Melissa. To address the question of his granddaughter, Honda expressed his view that any type of discrimination is negative, stating, “It doesn’t matter if they’re gay or lesbian or black or Asian.” He will make sure the problem of bullying in schools improves and hopes to educate the young about the wrongs of discrimination.
Senior Sanaea Kakalia asked Honda, “What do you hope to do to make the Union more perfect?” Honda responded that he hopes to use the basic principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness outlined in the Constitution to strengthen the people.
Honda will be visiting MSJ again in the near future as a guest speaker for MSJ Political Science Club. Students who missed the opportunity to meet him this time will have the chance to do so at a later date.