Perspectives from the Temple’s Graduating High School Senior: Evan Itow

We recognize and celebrate our graduating high school Senior by printing his Dharma Talk.

I Always Strive to be that Bright and Strong Link

 By Evan Itow

 My name is Evan Itow and I want to personally thank everyone attending service today. 

Unfortunately, for this round of Senior Speeches, I am the only speech, so I’ll make sure to hopefully make it a good one. 

One of One

Throughout my time in the High School class, I always dreaded being the only one in 2022 making a Senior Speech, but you know, now that I am at this moment, it’s not that bad.  I mean, I got to choose whatever time I wanted and will know that I had the best Senior Speech of the year.  Going along with all of this about being the only one in this year’s graduating class, this has been part of my identity even before my very first high school class.  I was quite hesitant on how it would be being the only newcomer, when everyone else in the high school class and YBA had already been there for at least a year, how would I fit in?  I always wondered how it would be if I was in San Jose with their graduating class this year of about 30 people.  However, after my time here, I wouldn’t trade my experience with this wonderful Sangha for anything.

Interdependency in My Life

Interdependency can be a word that really sums up my time here and is a word I had never heard of before coming to services and listening in on the Dharma Talks.  Now, although not in my daily vocabulary, I try my hardest to implement such teachings in my everyday life.  The most profound way it has stuck with me over the years is with the Golden Chain.  After having recited the Golden Chain about 100 times, it’s kind of with me now, like that one song you just can’t get out of your head.  I think the most impactful line to me is the one saying that my actions can affect my own and other’s happiness or unhappiness.  Throughout my everyday life, I always strived to be that bright and strong link.  Being able to work interconnectedly and in harmony has always led to the best outcomes, whether that be within my cross-country team or a school project.

Such interdependency was also very prevalent during my time in the YBA.  When I first joined the YBA, despite being the only freshman, the older members really helped me learn what it was to really be a part of everything.  Through their compassion and constant sharing of wisdom, I learned everything there was to learn, from the meeting jargon, to what a conference was, what to wear to the YBA Spaghetti Dinner.  I was met with open arms by everyone, and I am so very thankful to all the people who were in the YBA during my time, past and present.  Interdependence also found its way into my later leadership roles in the YBA.  Tyler and Megan, who both graduated last year, worked with me every step of the way to make sure I performed my duties on the YBA Cabinet to the highest level.  Brent has taken the role of advisor to the next level, making my job in the YBA just so much easier and helping me work out every bit of troubleshooting.  Finally, this year, shoutout to Vice, and future, President Jake and Treasurer Ryan for taking on numerous responsibilities this year to make the ship sail smoothly.  If it wasn’t for all of the support and sense of community that I experienced among everyone in Sangha, my time here would have looked very different.

Always Be Kind to Others

If I could leave a message to the people listening to my speech right now, it would be to always be kind to others, no matter what.  If there was one thing I could count on when coming to service and Dharma School, it would be that I would always be greeted at the door with a smile and treated with kindness from everyone here.  I might have been stressed out from the previous week or just not in a good mood at all, but coming here for whatever occasion would always make me feel like I mattered.  With all of the recent terrible tragedies occurring, my dream is that our world can come together to become one of kindness where everyone is treated with their due respect.  If just one person, maybe you, can show kindness to another in one way, maybe the receiver of such kindness can pass it along, and so on, eventually reaching a multitude of people.  We can take a break from infecting others with COVID and infect others with love and kindness.

Thank You

Finally, a round of thank-yous.  Thank you to the Sangha for always being a community that surrounded me in kindness.  Thank you to the Temple, all of my Dharma School teachers, and Reverend Mukojima for teaching me everything there is to know about the teachings of Buddhism, and hopefully even more in the future.  Thank you to all of the friends I made along the way here for supporting me every step of the way, thank you to Allyson for being an amazing and very encouraging younger sister.  And thank you to my mom and dad for always making sure I am always doing what I need to be doing and always pushing me to do my best.

Can everyone please join me In Gassho.

“When we are called to help our friends in need

You can count on me like

1, 2, 3

I’ll be there

And I know when I need it

I can count on you like 4, 3, 2

And you’ll be there

‘Cause that’s what friends are s’posed to do, oh yeah”


Namo Amida Butsu

Namo Amida Butsu

Namo Amida Butsu

Evan Itow