Upon moving into the ‘Iolani Banyan, boarding student Emily Ohara ’22 grappled with similar growing pains as many of her peers. Homework was plenty, free time was limited, and communication with her parents was little to none. The only reliable remedy for her homesickness was her twin brother and fellow boarder Riki Ohara ’22. One might assume that the cost of this mutual sense of familiarity is the struggle to retain individuality in the presence of such a close relative, but the Ohara twins have never considered this a challenge.
“Our personalities are pretty much opposites,” said Ohara. “He’s outgoing and confident about himself. That’s how he has helped me build up my own confidence over the years.”
Prior to the Ohara twins’ enrollment in the boarding program, Riki Ohara attended the International Management Group Academy in Florida to develop his golfing skills, while Emily Ohara focused on her studies at the Nishimachi International School in Tokyo, Japan. However, the friendly nature of their interactions does not reflect the many years they spent apart.
“We get along well. We used to fight a lot, but now, not so much,” said Ohara. “He’s usually busy with golf, but we like to catch up when he comes back early for dinner.”
Riki Ohara plans to return to the International Management Group Academy after his freshman year of high school. However, Emily Ohara plans to graduate from ‘Iolani. While she shares her mother’s ambivalence about the quality of education at the golf academy, she fully supports her brother’s decision.
“For his academic future, I don’t think it’s right, but I support him. I’m really proud because he’s passionate and knows what he wants to do,” she said.
The Ohara twins might be unusually close and mature, but they are by no means immune to sibling rivalry. Emily Ohara finds it difficult at times to compete with her brother, the first-ranked golfer in his age group on the Japan Junior Golf Tour. Still, she makes a respectable effort to outshine him off the golf course.
“He’s obviously the better athlete. But academically, I try to be better than him,” she said.
Emily Ohara wishes to be on the Headmaster's List, and she considers Spanish class one of her biggest obstacles. She had hoped to enroll in Japanese classes, but her apparent fluency in the language barred her from the course.
Because she plans to live on campus for the rest of high school, Ohara hopes to take on an active role in the ‘Iolani community. The first step she took toward this goal was trying out for the ‘Iolani JV Girls Basketball team. Although she had been playing the sport for two years, she found herself on unfamiliar ground in tryouts.
“I was much shorter than the other players, which I wasn’t used to,” said Ohara. “The basketball teams [in Japan] are fast and short. In the U.S., they’re a lot taller.”
Ohara said that her size disadvantage prevents her from contributing as much to the team as she would like. However, winning basketball games is not her primary objective when she steps onto the court. Emily Ohara plays the sport because she finds it meaningful to be part of a team.
“I think it is important to win games, but having fun with friends is more important to me,” said Ohara. “Since basketball is a team sport, you need to get along with your teammates and support them no matter what they do. You can never win a game if you play by yourself.”
With her mellow personality and “One Team” spirit, Emily Ohara has won prizes more valuable than game victories: the hearts of her teammates and roommates.