Persistence is the theme echoed every week at the Academy of the Pacific Rim. “Today’s gambatte goes to Diana Polette,” principal Dimitry Anselme says. “The principle at the Academy is around gambatte. It is a Japanese term talking about persistence, sticking to something or sticking to an effort until you get it done.”
The spirit of gambatte can be seen on the walls of the school, but its roots are in its founding. “My contact with Asian values basically came out of my youth,” says founder Bob Guen. “Growing up in Boston’s Chinatown and being educated in the city of Boston in Boston Public Schools.”
A dentist and a former Boston School Committee member, Guen admired the discipline and standards of schools in Asian countries. So, in 1997, he opened the Academy of the Pacific Rim – a charter school in Hyde Park with an 8-hour school day and an 11-month school year. “When I traveled to Asia I saw that there were many, many kids that when they finished a long day of school in Taipei Taiwan, they would immediately go after school to cram.”
Guen says he took some risks in opening the Academy – mostly by resisting pressure from Asian community members to make it a school just for Asians. “I told them this is not what I fought for. This is not just for Asians. My whole focus is to help the kids in the city of Boston.” Only 4% of the Academy’s students are Asian, but all of its 360 middle and high school students are required to study Chinese. “China is going to be a major economic player in a few years,” Guen says.