About Me

When I was kid.

Yoshitaka "Taka" Hamada is currently studying photojournalism and theatre as a minor at the University of Florida. He has been living in the United States for seven years, but he has lived and traveled various places since he was 15. Hamada was born on Aug. 27, 1987 in Kure, Hiroshima, Japan. He is the first son of Kaduwo Hamada, a local certified accountant, and his wife, Yasuko. He has three younger sisters, Midori, Chihiro and Sayaka. Hamada lived in Kure for the first 16 years of his life. Kure is about 20 miles south of Hiroshima, and it is better known for the home of the World War II battleship Yamato. As being influenced by his parents, he soon became a Hiroshima Carp's fan. Hiroshima Carp is a Japanese professional baseball team based in Hiroshima. He went to see his first ball game when he was 4- or 5-year-old with his father. The score was 4-3, Carp won by a ninth inning walk-off hit. He went to see the games twice a year. Usually, they were one pre-season game and one regular season game. 1994, Hamada started the first-grade. He soon got his first nickname "foreigner" (of course, it is translated to English) because of his whiter skin and hazel-nut-color eyes. As he was getting interested in the American culture, he got similar nicknames until graduating high school.

The year of 1998 was the year that changed the course of his life forever. It was the year that he lost his father and met a new culture, America. 1998 started with one of the most shocked moments that he has ever had. Since '96, his father, Kaduwo, had been fighting against cancers; however, he passed away in the early January. It was a very surprised moment for him because he did not expect his father's death at all, although he knew his father had been fighting against "a very bad sick." "I lost my father almost all the sudden, at least for me back then," Hamada said. "I lost my best friend and a person who I respected the most in my life." His life was now certainly in a tumble. In November, Hamada had a chance to play an accordion in "El Condor Pasa," the traditional Latin American song, for the school concert. When his mother knew her son would play the song, she gave him an album of Simon and Garfunkel. Simon and Garfunkel covered the song. It was one of the most enlightened moments in his life. Hamada hadn't listened to any foreign music before the Simon and Garfunkel's songs. "It was definitely a wake-up call," he said. "I definitely changed my perspectives of music and wanted to know more of American music." Since November, he started to listen to American music (actually, only Simon and Garfunkel's songs.) His first CD that he bought by his own money was, of course, Simon and Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence."

Through his time in the middle and high school, he had grown an interest in American culture. September, 2003, when he was in a 10th-grade, he decided to apply the exchange student program. One of the reasons that he decided to apply to the program was he received D-grade in previous trimester. In addition, Hamada wanted to do something different and didn't want to study all day, all week. He knew that he was spoiling his mother when he applied to the program, so he picked a cheaper program available; the program in the United States. It was about $3,000 cheaper than the program in Australia. He secretly sent the application in the early October, only a few of people knew about applying to the program; himself, his homeroom teacher and international coordinator. Hamada told his mother about the program after he got accepted to the program. She was stunned but supportive after all. He received an acceptance letter from a host family in St. Augustine, Fla., in early July, 2004, just several weeks before the program started. At the time, he didn't think he would be back to America. He said, "I was thinking it was one time thing. Let's just see America or outside of his country. If something would change me through the staying in America, that's cool. That's good enough to me."

When he came to the United States, he couldn't speak English. So, it was sometimes troublesome for him, but he recalls the time as a "buffer" time. It was a time to get used to the surroundings. However, he mostly recalls the first semester, as his career decisive moment. In his last American government class assignment, he was assigned with his classmates to research a Supreme Court case, Nixon v. U.S.A. He learned two young Washington Post reporters caused Nixon to force to resign. He was surprised and excited about the reporters had done. It was a moment for him to pursue journalism as a career. He started to consider coming back to U.S. in the future when the second semester started. It was because his English skills started to improve, and he started to know more people. When he finished the program in June, 2005, he already decided to come back specifically to Florida and promised to some of his friends to do so. He finished his senior year in Japan and graduated from his high school on March, 2006.

Snow in Missouri

He came back to the U.S., in August, 2006, but he didn't come back to Florida. Instead, he went to Long Beach, Calif. He spent one semester at the Long Beach City College. He took an English as Second Language course. However, he hated the school because there were so many Japanese students in the class; half of classmates were Japanese. He almost spoke Japanese every day, so he decided to move away because the primary reason he came back to the U.S. was to improve English and study journalism but not speak Japanese every day in America. He decided to move to Missouri because of the University of Missouri, which is one of the best journalism schools in the nation. He applied to State Fair Community College in Sedalia, Mo., where is about 70 miles southwest of Columbia, Mo., and he attended the school from January, 2007 to May, 2008 before transferring to Santa Fe College. Living in Missouri was tough for him at first. First weekend he moved to the city, he experienced a huge snow storm, which literary forced him to be stuck in his apartment for one week. The pantry was empty when he could go outside again. He managed the rest of the semester and the fall semester fairly well. Being at the presidential inauguration Near the end of the fall semester, he bought his first car; a brownish red Dodge Stratus. He traveled with the car to over the 20 states and 5,000 miles until he lost the car in an accident on January, 2011. Also, at the same period, he was accepted to an internship at a local radio station for the upcoming spring semester. He created radio advertisements for local businesses, interviewed people about current issues and participated in various events, including a rodeo show and Super Tuesday coverage. After the end of the semester, he moved back to Florida, and started to attend Santa Fe Community College on fall, 2008. Hamada attended the college until December, 2009, when he graduated from there. He traveled to the Mid-Atlantic region with his friends on December, 08'. He went to Philadelphia and Atlantic City, N.J., before going to New York. It was the first time for him to visit New York and play in a casino. Hamada and his friends were supposed to see the new year's ball drop at the Times Square, but because of the frigid weather, they ended up driving in the downtown Washington D.C. honking to celebrate the new year. A few weeks later, he drove to Washington, D.C., to see the president Obama's inauguration with his friends. It was as cold as New York a few weeks ago. Hamada said, "We thought we saw the history. I mean, it was probably one of the most significant part of the US history, but I'm not sure it was really worthwhile because of the president's performance."
He started to apply to UF and University of South Florida in the summer of '09 after he almost finished AA degree and one course left to graduate from Santa Fe College. He received an acceptance letter from USF first, but he had to wait for another two months to know the UF's decision. In the late October, He drove to Tampa for the USF's orientation. Throughout the orientation, he kept thinking that he hoped spending $100 and one day were wastes for being accepted to UF. His hope came true as he checked his application status later the day. He got accepted to UF and started to attend the university January '10. He is expected to graduate from UF December 2012.

Contact to Taka Hamada