Angela, 15: Instructor, Tina Zamani - Kumon

Angela, 15: Instructor, Tina Zamani

On Friday, March 11, 2011, the most devastating earthquake to ever have hit Japan struck the coast at a magnitude of 9.0, changing the lives of millions. As one of the most powerful earthquakes since modern records began, its force triggered the creation of a devastating tsunami that took the lives of many and transformed an entire nation’s history.

Fifteen-year-old Angela, a student at Kumon of Tracy in California, was particularly moved by these tragic events. Just a few shorts months prior to the tsunami, Angela went to Tokyo to visit her sick grandmother. Her emotional trip left her feeling extremely connected not only to Japan, the country of her heritage, but also to its culture and people.

As if the tsunami was not impactful enough on Angela, one of the most important people in her life, her grandmother, passed away just two short days later.  The tragedies of the tsunami and her grandmother’s passing left Angela with a feeling of helplessness and heartache. However, she was also bursting with ambition. She felt that these life altering events were part of her fate to express the emotions of people throughout Japan while opening the eyes of the rest of the world.

Through her gift of poetry, Angela created a book of poems, “The Tragedy that Struck My Heart,” which not only gave a voice to those who had lost their lives in the tsunami, but also honors her late grandmother.

“I enjoyed how the words to express the emotions I wanted to convey just flowed onto paper, coming to me as if by instinct,” Angela said.

As a Kumon of Tracy Student for more than six years, Angela built a strong foundation in math, while also gaining writing skills, through her studies in both the math and reading programs. Busy with extracurricular activities, at times, Angela struggled to continue the Kumon Program. With the support of her family and the guidance of her Instructor, Tina Zamani, a successful solution was always reached. No matter the challenge, quitting Kumon was never an option.

“The purpose of Kumon is for one to achieve the best of their own abilities, and the key to success is to never quit,” expressed Angela. “Never let your frustrations get the best of you.”

Angela persevered in Kumon and never gave up on her book either, regardless of her struggle to publish it. After months of hard work, dedication and research, Angela’s eBook was finally published and is now available on and

Angela’s mother, Yukie, commends her daughter for all of her success. “I’m so proud of my daughter for completing this eBook, from the poems to the illustrations and artwork to the experience Angela has gained,” said Yukie.

Angela plans to one day be able to pay respects to her late grandmother in Japan with her family. She also aspires to publish a hardcover version of her book, and more importantly, donate proceeds to a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the devastations in Japan.

Here is an expert from “The Tragedy that Struck My Heart”.

Dinner is set
The hashi are out,
And rice is in their bowls.
The children shouted with glee.
Oh, the pure serenity.
Smiles are exchanged,
Along with the soy sauce,
And the feeling of warmth reaches the hearts,
and hungry stomachs.
A rumble is heard.
“Must be my stomach!” Otousan joked.
And the children all laughed about.
Dinner is set.
The hashi are still out,
But rice is no longer in their bowls.
No shouts are heard from the children,
Nor jokes, nor laughs.
Empty is the house,
Empty of spirits, and filled with calamity.
Tragedy had paid a visit.