The Honolulu Star-Advertiser and the Nisei Veterans Legacy are launching a new youth project that seeks to tell the stories of the second- generation Japanese Americans in our communities and families who served in World War II.
Jayna Omaye, the Star- Advertiser’s ethnic and cultural affairs reporter, will spearhead the three-month pilot program, which will begin in early December. She is part of Report for America, a national service organization that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues and communities.
Omaye will lead weekly sessions, virtually and in person, on journalism basics and the reporting process, including interviewing, writing and editing. Students also will learn from other Star-Advertiser journalists and guest speakers.
The program is free and open to Hawaii high school students. It will be limited to six participants to provide personalized attention. At the end of three months, students will have completed a story about a nisei veteran in their family or community that also explores contemporary issues such as Asian hate crimes and equality.
Work from the program will be featured in the Star-Advertiser and in the Nisei Veterans Legacy newsletter or website.
Report for America corps members volunteer their time with student journalists and youth media projects. The goal is to support media literacy among young people by working with them to produce stories about their communities. Omaye is partnering with the Nisei Veterans Legacy, a nonprofit that seeks to preserve, perpetuate and share the legacy of Hawaii’s second-generation Japanese American, or nisei, veterans of World War II.
As the granddaughter of a nisei veteran, Omaye has a passion for telling their stories. Her grandfather Hideo Nimori served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team’s Service Company.
Born and raised on Oahu, Omaye began her journalism career as a reporter at the Orlando Sentinel in Florida and moved home to work at the Star-Advertiser in 2015. Most recently she worked as a staff writer at Honolulu Magazine, where she led one of its largest projects in recent years — a 19-page cover story and 20 pages of online content — about the life stories of Hawaii’s nisei soldiers.
The multimedia feature won two national first-place awards. Her work also garnered three local awards. Omaye, a Moanalua High School graduate, earned her master’s degree from Northwestern University and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon.