Natasha Mar is looking to be a model representative of the spirit of Thailand. To get there, she has taken on service projects and volunteer efforts centered on engaging with people from Thailand in the San Diego area.
In the past two years, the junior at The Bishop’s School in La Jolla has worked with a program that pairs Thai students with English tutors. She has been president of the Leo Club in San Diego (an offshoot of the Lions Club), which conducts service projects. She has helped facilitate coronavirus testing at a Thai temple in San Diego, helped count people from Thailand in the 2020 US Census, delivered Thai food to health care workers and played in virtual performances with her cello chamber group for retirement communities during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Thailand is not spoken about very often, so I want to get our voices heard more in the general public by getting more involved,” Natasha said. “Having heard our voices is so important. In San Diego, we are such a diverse city, and I think it’s important that we learn about and respect each other. Especially in recent years, when our Asian brothers and sisters have experienced hate crimes, it’s important to learn to respect each other and get rid of biases toward different groups. ”
US Rep. Scott Peters (D-La Jolla) recently awarded Natasha a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for her “engagement, leadership and volunteer work as a student at The Bishop’s School.”
“Congratulations on all your achievements and thank you for your dedication and contributions to our community,” the certificate reads.
“I’ve made it a priority to encourage young leaders who seek to be civically engaged,” Peters told the La Jolla Light. “Natasha worked to educate and empower members of the Thai community to ensure their voices are heard by elected officials such as myself. … I hope that by recognizing her this way, others are inspired. ”
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Natasha said the congressional recognition has motivated her to keep going.
“I feel like these projects have given me a deeper connection to my roots in Thailand, and the people I get to work with are so supportive of me. And now that I have a certificate recognizing my work, I feel even more motivated, ”she said. “Having a leadership role with these organizations can be daunting, but having a supportive community helps me push forward.”
She said Thailand “shares some similarities to other Asian cultures but has its own distinct ways. I describe it as colorful. The events we have are for family and friends to have fun with colorful flowers and traditional clothing. And the food is great. ”
Natasha has been to Thailand twice. “I love it there so much. I loved learning more about my culture. ”
Natasha performs in addition to her efforts with the Thai community.
“I want to make as many connections through volunteerism as possible and perform as much as possible,” she said. “I’ve been playing music since I was 3 and I love it with all my heart. It has helped me through so many tough times. ”
A piece she composed for piano won first place in the American Protegé International Music Talent Competition this year and she will have the opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York, which she called “a huge honor.” ⁇