Lysle Dirrim, was a long-time resident of Brighton, Colorado who practiced law here and supported the BJAA. In addition, he was a staunch believer in the importance of education.
After Mr. Dirrim passed away in 2014, BJAA received donations in memoriam, earmarked for scholarship purposes.
A committee was tasked to distribute this one-time scholarship. Applications were accepted from any BJAA members or members’ children who will be attending college or vocational school in the fall of 2015. Students working toward vocational, undergraduate, or post-graduate degree programs were eligible.
There were 7 applicants. The applications and the essays were impressive. Each applicant mentioned how the BJAA and traditions influenced their growing years and is still influencing their lives.
We applaud them all and wish them success in their chosen career.
This page is dedicated not only to Mr. Dirrim and his family but also to showcase the applicants essays. Well done!
Being a Part of BJAA
Growing up with BJAA in my life, I have been enriched with the Japanese American culture. I’ve learned that good communities are made of individuals who participate and give back. Ever since I was a toddler, I’ve been involved with the BJAA dinner. I fondly remember working on the rice crew with my “Grandma Mary” and Uncle Stan and Aunt Gayle, then later with other girls serving as a hostess. Doing these tasks has always felt more important than simply being a volunteer because all of my family surrounded me. That small community of family and friends always welcomed me and showed how much they cared about me. They introduced me to and taught me about some of the Japanese culture still infused in our family values. With the annual Chow Mein Dinner, the BJAA is not only an honored family tradition, but it also gives back to our community with donations to worthy causes and shares the Japanese culture with all.
I would not have known about gaman (the disciplined acceptance of one’s lot in life) without someone from BJAA teaching me. Just like with the unpresentable koge, the browned rice from the bottom of the pan that we can’t serve to our customers at the annual BJAA Shrimp and Chow Mein dinner, we make nigiri (rice balls) to share with hungry members of other committees. When life throws terrible things at me, I’ve learned that it is best to endure rather than retaliate or run away. Sometimes awful things happen and there is nothing to do but deal with it. For almost all of my school years, I have received unwanted racial discrimination, I couldn’t join certain social groups or was teased for my ethnicity. But, by not acting out and instead proving my worth through hard work, I have been able to work towards a lifelong goal of continuing my education at a great university, the University of Denver.
Dan Blegen tells us in his book, Our American Journey – A History of the Brighton Nisei Women’s Club and the Brighton Japanese American Association that “the successes of the present would not have been possible without the stamina, hard work, dedication, and gaman shown by the Issei and Nisei.” I know first hand how these successes paved the way for my inherited values and the traditions I hold dear. Throughout the book, a common foundation for all generations was the value of an education, both in Japanese school and public schools. That foundation endures with BJAA offering scholarships to all high school graduates of which I was a recipient. It constantly reminds me of the importance of education and making good life choices that affect myself and the community for a common good.
In this manner, the BJAA principles have profoundly affected my future. With one academic quarter under my belt at DU, I am changing my major to Asian Studies based on the knowledge I hold dear from my Japanese-American background. And, for the 2-year language requirement at DU, even though I took four years of French in high school, I chose Japanese as the language I will study. My hope is to strengthen the ties between Asia and the United States through our governments and cultures with a career in the Foreign Service or at the United Nations. All this amazingly grown from a seed probably planted many years ago as a toddler making nigiri with the rice crew and my BJAA family. I will be forever grateful.
My family has been an integral part of the Brighton Japanese American Association for as long as I can remember. Their involvement in this association and how they socialized me growing up in the Japanese American community has had many positive implications on my life and now influences how I carry myself on a daily basis.
My father was the president of the BJAA for several years as I was growing up and he seemed like he was always doing something to progress the association. This in turn imprinted on me the basic belief of responsibility and accountability. I am now a firm believer that everyone should be held responsible for his or her own action. I believe they should get praised when praise is due and be held responsible for repairing harm that resulted from any of their action. This belief has lead me to the life belief that everything in life is earned. That is one of the primary reasons why I strive to better myself everyday while attending college so that some day I will be as successful as my father and be able to provide for my family and still be able to give back to the community that helped shape me into the person I am today.
The biggest lesson that the Brighton Japanese American Association has taught me is that community service is key to maintaining the community in which we live. Unfortunately, I haven't been as involved in the BJAA as I would have hoped to have been since I started attending school. But I still make it a point to come down and volunteer for the Chow Mein Dinner. I received a scholarship from the BJAA my senior year of high school and it helped me finance a portion of my education my freshman year of college. I love giving back to this organization because I believe it is vital to the Brighton Japanese American youth that this organization continues doing what they are doing by helping the graduating seniors fund a portion of their future education. If that means that someone else gets this scholarship instead of myself, that is completely okay with me, because I understand that whoever gets that scholarship will be completely deserving of it.
Regardless of if I get this scholarship or not, I am entirely grateful for the opportunities that this organization has given me both currently and in the past. I will strive to live my life in such a way that would make my Bachan and Jichan and the Issei before them proud of who I am today.
Domo Arigato Gozaimasu
The BJAA has always been an important part of my family's life. I am blessed to have an organization that continues to practice meaningful traditions. Like Mr. Dirrim, I strongly value family relationships and education. It is gratifying to see Mr. Dirrim's positive influence in the community and I am proud to see the BJAA come together and carry out his legacy.
In recent years it has been difficult to be a highly active member of the BJAA since graduating high school and attending college in Michigan. During my youthful years I was a much more active member and I miss being able to participate in all events. I recall peeling shrimp and bussing tables at the chow mein dinner with my brothers and cousins since I was a youngster. My service in the BJAA granted me the honor of receiving a scholarship upon my high school graduation which has allowed me to further my college education. Besides participating in voluntary work for the BJAA I continue to be present at many of the fun filled holiday events such as; the turkey shoot, Christmas party, recreational softball games and summer fishing derbies. Attending the holiday events are just as important as volunteer work and I look forward to getting together with other members. Reconnecting with fellow respectable members allows us to continue to establish and grow our relationships.
The BJAA has made it apparent how important it is to be close with family and community. Despite being over a thousand miles from home I still talk on the phone with my parents and grandparents regularly. Whenever I come home for holidays I make a point to sped as much time with my extended family as possible. My entire family proudly participates in many BJAA events throughout the year. It is enjoyable for all of us to rejoin with everyone and share stories from the times I am gone. The BJAA has made it possible for me to form relationships with people of similar values and I am grateful to have the opportunity that touches my life in such a positive manner.
The members of the BJAA re more than just friends, they are family. I am pleased to be part of an organization that does such a great job of creating a closely knit Japanese Community. It is unfortunate I never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Dirrim. I feel that we would have had a lot of values in common. The Japanese culture has emphasized the importance of respecting your heritage. I am blessed to have the opportunity to learn from the wisdom of my parents, grandparents and even my great grandma, Bachan. Being the recipient of the scholarship in honor of Mr. Dirrim would mean a great deal to me. I feel there is a kindred spirit between Mr. Dirrim's life and mine. Mr. Dirrim had served in the Navy during World War II. Similarly, I am attending college in pursuit of a career as a sailor in the United States Merchant Marine. I am attending a maritime college which focus on earning degrees and licenses for careers as officers aboard seagoing merchant vessels. I feel this synergy between his life and mine. I would be honored to carry on Mr. Dirrim's legacy of family values and education.
Allyson Goto is the selected winner of the scholarship.
After my Grandma passed away we looked through many old pictures, reminiscing about the amazing journey she had lived. Many of the photos included my grandparent’s time at the Brighton Japanese American Association meetings. In the pictures they are wearing stiff suits, and dresses, both of which, by today’s standards, point to a serious event. However, if you look at their heads thrown back laughing, the crazy dancing, and the friendly embraces, you soon realize that while they were at a meeting, they were surrounded by their friends or maybe a better description, their family. It is this community that my grandparents helped grow that has had a significant impact on my life starting from a young age. I can still remember going to my first holiday party hosted by the BJAA. At the event I received a nicely wrapped and unexpected gift. After ripping through the patterned paper I realized it was a purple boom box. Today that same boom box sits in my living room. Its now old and outdated, the cord is falling apart, but every time I turn it on, music pours out with the same resonance it did when I first got it. So while it is simply a boom box it’s a reminder of my first experience in the BJAA community and the countless memories I have made in the community since then.
Some of the memories I cherish the most are the BJAA’s Chow Mein Dinners. I can remember then heading over to what I used to call the “building with the golf ball next to it”. I was always so excited to see my grandpa sitting by the door in a gray and black happi coat selling tickets, my dad in the shrimp house secretly giving me shrimp that were deemed unacceptable, and my grandma in the takeout line feverishly putting chow mein in the boxes and then handing it off to the next pair of eager hands. After seeing all of them I remember wanting to wear one of the blue or pink happi coats myself, but at that age I’m not confident I would have been able to lift the tea pots. When I finally was able to help in fifth or sixth grade I realized that the chow mein dinner not only offered amazing food, but also brought together a community. The community that I am talking about is not the people who drove miles and miles just to eat the chow mein, but rather those who were behind the scenes. I am talking about the community that comes together every year to work side by side with their friends despite the sore feet and grease smell that will inevitably ensue at the end of the day. The community that does all of this because they want to give the BJAA as much as it has intrinsically given to them. Moreover, what is beautiful, is that you can see the effects that giving back has had on the community in the mothers working next to daughters, fathers working next to sons, and the grandparents working next to their grandkids. While the pictures we take today at the chow mein dinner may not show us in fancy dresses or in pressed suits it will show the same sense of community that existed fifty years ago. A community that has instilled in me the values of hard work, appreciation for family and friends, and above all the importance of the heritage and history that has built me into the person I am today.
The hardest part of college is adjusting to a life outside of your comfort zone. While it is cliché to say, you really do have an opportunity to figure out who you are, what you believe in, and what you are going to do with your life. While it is exciting, it is also extremely overwhelming. However, with everything changing around me, having a strong understanding of my heritage and where I have come from has helped me navigate through my time at college. My experiences with BJAA has helped me build a base of fundamental values. For instance, understanding the prejudice many Japanese Americans experienced during World War II, but seeing their ability to gracefully rise from the suppression has taught me the true meaning of the term Gaman and the value of resolution and perseverance. Moreover, by understanding how prejudice has affected our culture, it has taught me the importance of fighting against prejudice today, whether it is against Japanese Americans or any other marginalized group. Although two-thousand miles separates Brighton, Colorado and Providence, Rhode Island, I carry the lessons I have learned from being a part of an active Japanese community with me everyday, and I will carry them for the rest of my life.
The BJAA has been a part of my family for generations. The past and present BJAA members have contributed and continue to contribute to the importance of our culture to the younger generation of Japanese Americans. Growing up around the older generations of those involved with BJAA has taught me community and serving together. It has brought forward a cognizance about pride in who I am and learning from older generations about the importance of taking pride in my work and being proud of who I am as an individual. Growing up as a Japanese American, when the majority of the students around you are not of the same ethnicity, can be difficult and at times discouraging as being different can be taken negatively at a young age. Being around the BJAA family has encouraged and lifted up what it means to be Japanese American and what we stand for as a community and more importantly as a culture. My parents have been members of BJAA since before I was born. Every year, as long as I can remember, we have participated in the annual BJAA Chow Mein Dinner. Being surrounded by generations of Japanese Americans has taught me about the importance of community and of the perceptions, understanding, attitudes, and feelings of the people which make up the BJAA. The Japanese American community is strong and has instilled a sense of pride of who I am and how hard my ancestors have worked. As a young Japanese American there is a significant importance in respecting who you are and where you come from as the elders share their wisdom and experience. Without the older generations who contribute to the core beliefs and ideals that BJAA stands for, there wouldn’t be a foundation or community for Japanese Americans. Being a part of the Chow Mein dinner I have been able to watch older generations take pride in serving the community and this has helped me to see the importance in taking pride in my work. I am in my fourth year at Metro State University and am majoring in Land Use Environment and Resource Management and have had to apply myself in academics as well as at work. During my four years at Metro State I have also held a part-time job to pay for my education. For each assignment, exam, and project I have taken pride in my work. I am proud to be apart of a Japanese American community and represent them in my education and work.
What defines us as Japanese Americans? It is the gathering of our community to remember the values and beliefs commenorated by our ancestors. for me personally it is the ethics of working hard, valuing education, and tradition that I believe was modeled for me by my grandparents, my family, my church, and the BJAA community. I learned not only by the adults in my life, but also by example and by watching and observing.
Growing up, I was engaged in BJAA activities, and I didn't really understand or recognize the lifelong support or role this organization would play in my life. I remember my parents and grandparents encouraging me and helping me get through rough times. Now that I am older, I know that the Issei and Nisei worked hard and persevered through the difficult World War II years. Their motto "Shigata ga nai" translated into "It can't be helped," went from a negative phrase to a positive phrase about overcoming difficulties. The BJAA was founded on similar values and beliefs and continue to influence the decisions that I make.
Our Japanese American community is growing in diversity. I am "hapa". My father is Caucasian. He always supported me and made a conscious effort to make sure that I had exposure with the BJAA community or any other Japanese cultural or heritage events. We live in Fort Collins, but my parents always make the effort to stay involved with the BJAA even though they haven't lived in that community for over 30 years. Why should I stay involved with BJAA when I don't live in the town of Brighton and I have never lived in Brighton? In fact, I don't know much about the town except that my Grandparents lived there. I'll tell you why. I embrace the lessons that I have learned from the legacy of the members of the BJAA. I am proud of the relationship, reputation, and support that the BJAA has with the town of Brighton. I'm in college and maybe I can't be as involved with the BJAA as much right now, but just like my sister, I know that I will be back to be a contributing member not just because of the social benefits, but because of the contribution that I can make to the great good. The faces of the BJAA might be changing and more members might look like me, but the foundation is still present. Traditions and customs might not be practiced in the same way as when my great grandparents or grandparents were alive, but they are valued with the same importance, and I am proud of that.
Every day I face decisions. Things happen that test my patience and shape my priorities and reactions. I don't always make the right decisions. But, I think my parents and the BJAA have given me the basic principles to help me balance my life.
"Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming." John Wooden. I live each day by this saying. My family has always believed that as long as you know you've done your best every day, that you can have a successful life. Each day you need to prove to yourself and not just the people that surround you; but building your character within. Live life with no regrets.
The support your community and family provides, helps to build character and mold who I will become. The Brighton Japanese American Association has been a part of my community for my entire life. Their presence in my family's life is just an extension of who we are and what we believe. Without the support of the outside community one cannot become successful. We all rely on each other and what each of us can do for one another. Whether it's who you know or what you learn from your professors or colleagues and friends is up to you. Life is a sponge and knowing that each person you meet there is an opportunity that you can absorb as much knowledge from them to gain more helpful insights to becoming a better individual.
I am truly excited about the opportunity given to me to continue to play baseball and to pursue my college education at UNLV. College life has been a challenge for me. I am now in a completely different environment from living at home and having my family near me to being fully independent. However, meeting new people from all walks of life has been interesting as well. I am building friendships that will last a lifetime and the experiences that I am gaining are truly a blessing.
I wouldn't have this chance if it weren't for my family and the BJAA community giving me a sense of belonging. The interaction of individuals and having a group that they can associate with gives me the guidance needed to be successful with every challenge that I face. Knowing where I came from and the trials and tribulations that my ancestors faced makes my endeavors seem menial. Focusing on my assignments and working hard at practice becomes a grind, but I picture my goals and keep working harder to prove my worthiness to my professors and to my coaches. I know that my actions can have a positive impact and reflects on myself, my family, my team and my Japanese community.
The BJAA is a community that gives a support for students not only for scholarships, but also as a means as a social outlet when I come back from college. I am looking forward to seeing my family and my cousins, aunts and uncles at the turkey shoot. I will miss the upcoming chow mein dinner since I will be at school and being on the baseball team we are in the midst of our season. As the BJAA continues to reach out to the college bound students, it is an overwhelming feeling of love and support from afar. I know that my success has only been credited to the guidance of the BJAA. The BJAA makes a difference in all of our lives.
Mr. Lysle Dirrim was a very respectable and accomplished man. He had support within his family and with his community. Reading the biography about him expressing his love for his family and all that he had accomplished for his surrounding community by supporting different organizations was a deep passion for him. He wanted to help people succeed. Seeing family and participating with them during family gatherings was important to him as well. Just like my family, we find that as we all start to venture out into our own worlds, that we still check in with our home base, just to collect ourselves and our thoughts. The BJAA offers this same connection that we all need and look forward to coming home.
In order to succeed in life, you need the support of your family and your community. I am blessed in so many ways that i am on my path to living my dream and knowing that I have everyone to help me reach my goals. I know that when I succeed that I will make our Japanese community proud along with my family. Sometimes, you need to dream the impossible to make it a reality. Dedicating yourself to live this dream requires the love and backing of your community and your "home". The BJAA connection to home is undeniable.