“When I stepped into the A.C.E. office in lower Queen Anne last summer, I felt all my fond memories return. There were friendly and welcoming staff members and a clean and comfortable space decorated in a multi-cultural flavor. When President Woodward explained A.C.E.’s recent business activities with his characteristic enthusiasm, I was just as impressed as I was with the people of A.C.E. as I was 22 years ago.”
Kazuyo Ogawara thus remembered 1990 Seattle in August 2012. Her trip to the A.C.E. office was to establish daughter Hikaru’s new footing for success in a city Kazuyo had called home as a twenty-something making her way in the world. Pictures were snapped and memories unearthed with Woodward, then the duo went up and over Queen Anne Hill, a mound that is snug on two sides to the A.C.E. central office and the Language Institute at Seattle Pacific University. Hikaru met her new campus, as Kazuyo was overcome with memories.
In a few days Hikaru would start at the A.C.E. Language Institute, but Kazuyo was able to show her the cafeteria, the ivy-covered buildings, and the canal. Her time at SPU in 1990 was spent in evening MBA classes with up-and-comers from Boeing, Weyerhaeuser, and Adobe, eager to secure the next rung on the corporate ladder. She attended then with an eye to her own future, and zooming ahead twenty years they strolled the leafy campus and planned Hikaru’s.
Kazuyo shared office space with A.C.E. first in Seattle’s University district then further south on one of its many bodies of water. The sole representative of a Japanese educational exchange company in Seattle, she wore every hat and relied on A.C.E. friends for a lot. “I came to Seattle borrowing a corner of the office at A.C.E. on Lake Union. The staff helped me start my life in Seattle, from finding an apartment, to getting a driver’s license, buying a car, and purchasing my first PC. Everything was overwhelming, and the A.C.E. staff helped me cope and supported me continuously.” Surprised by a birthday party, she is center in red dress, with A.C.E. founder Bud Bard lower right, and current Senior Vice President Sam Shepherd above him.
The office that looked out on Lake Union still would see the shimmer while the sun passed overhead, and though moved to Queen Anne A.C.E. did use the lake for The Run About the World 5K just weeks after Hikaru started studying. Below she joined all the other Language Institute students to volunteer, passing out water and bananas, setting up the activity booths, and enjoying the beauty of the area her mother had gazed out on twenty years earlier.
Hikaru now studies at the A.C.E. Language at The University of Rhode Island and is fully conditionally admitted to the school for her bachelor’s degree. Looking out onto the ocean on the other coast, she hears words echoing in her ear that could be her own, ones her mother, now the editorial director for an Italian publishing company, uttered looking back on her time in the U.S.
“The people I become friends and acquaintances with widened my scope of thinking and enriched my life in many different areas ranging from my professional to daily life. Their lifestyles, their pragmatic career plans, and their worries and dreams were vital in stimulated me for my own future. Indeed, the unique blend of cosmopolitan and natural environments, bolstered by the great people I was fortunate to meet, provided the optimal place for me to prepare for my future life.”