January 18, 2005
Seton Catholic High School’s Lisa Wolf is in Japan learning how to teach peers about diversity. The 16-year-old Chandler junior was one of five students chosen nationwide by the Anti-Defamation League to meet with Japanese students and government and education officials to share ideas about diversity and the need to act in the face of adversity.
The league is the world’s largest civil rights organization, whose purpose is to combat hate, prejudice and anti-Semitism.
Wolf is one of 11 Sugihara scholars chosen nationally by the league after her "exemplary" work at a youth leadership mission last October in Washington, D.C., said Paul Wieser, the league’s educational director.
The four-day trip to Washington centered around the Holocaust Museum, where 110 students from around the country attended peer training sessions.
"It has changed how I think about everything," Wolf said. "Seeing the diversity and hardship, I never knew things were like that out there."
Wolf and other students were asked to write an essay on Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat stationed in Lithuania during World War II who issued visas to save thousands of Jewish lives. The essays were to include how Sugihara’s life had impacted theirs, Wolf said.
Wolf, who is on an allexpense paid, seven-day trip to Japan, is the first Arizona student to receive this honor, Wieser said.
"She’s a really special kind of kid," Wieser said. "She has a sensitivity about her that she can really relate to folks, to situations, where there is a crying need to help."
Mary Adams, who has taught Wolf in Scripture and honors English classes, said Wolf "stood out from the day she walked into my freshman class."
Wolf was asked to go on the youth leadership mission to Japan after she was chosen as a peer trainer last fall at her Chandler school. Next month she will begin teaching Seton Catholic High School freshmen about what she has learned.
The peer training program is a league program where upperclassmen teach lessons about diversity and how to combat prejudice in the school setting, Wieser said.
Wolf , who had never been out of the country , left Friday and is staying with a Japanese family, giving speeches at schools and sightseeing. She said she wants to learn about the Japanese culture, understand and appreciate it.