Conversation with Christopher Adachi, M.A. Student

Where do you work?
Junipero Serra High School, in Gardena, Calif. I teach music education to ninth through 12th graders.

What attracted you to PLACE Corps?
I always wanted to be an educator. I was looking around for opportunities for my master’s degree. I went to a job fair at the University of Hawaii and met PLACE Corps Director Diana Murphy. She gave a very lovely talk about what PLACE Corps is all about — serving people while living in community and building up our own personal growth.

What are PLACE Corps’ “three pillars?”
Spirituality, community and professional development. In terms of community, there are times when we get on each other’s nerves. But learning how to communicate and how to accept people for who they are is something that is making me grow as a person.

What about the pillar of spirituality?
I had been trying to understand exactly what God is to me and how I am supposed to be a Catholic. In PLACE Corps, there have been times when I could focus on this to grow spiritually.

Tell me about the Paulo Coelho quote on your PLACE Corps bio.
“Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.” Paulo Coelho’s words remind me that just going out and doing something is going to get you farther than having regrets. I tell my kids to try doing things that are beneficial to them, even if it’s scary.

What’s all this buzz about a nightclub performance?
I want the kids to learn about music. My co-worker and I arranged a gig for the students at a legitimate jazz club. Since the students can’t be near alcohol, we made accommodations with the owner — half of the room was for students and the other for parents and patrons. A quintet of teachers — me and four others —opened and then an octet of students played. Afterward, a student came up to me and said, “Mr. Adachi, this was so fun! I hope we can do it again.”

What else should readers know about the program?
PLACE Corps is a life-changing experience. It’s not something I would give up in a million years.

Jeremy Rosenberg is a Los Angeles-based writer. His works on a wide variety of topics have appeared in dozens of anthology books, magazines and websites. Follow or contact him @LosJeremy.