by LIZ ONUFER | photo by Soul of Photography

Cultural Ambassador

Drawing a long straight line west from Encinitas across the Pacific Ocean leads directly to Amakusa, Japan. Nathan Neumann traced this route last summer to visit Encinitas’s sister city. The junior at San Dieguito Academy stands out among his peers and not just for his unique travel experiences.
As co-president of San Dieguito Academy’s (SDA) Japanese National Honor Society, a peer tutor in Japanese 1, and in his fifth term studying the language, Nathan plays an important role in the school’s World Languages department. This past summer, he participated with other SDA students in a study tour with Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Kakehashi (Bridge for Tomorrow) Program. On a second trip to the country he visited Amakusa. Both trips have been a huge influence in Nathan’s life. “I mainly hope I was able to serve as a good ambassador for our community and leave them with more of an impression than ‘Do they all wear such bright-colored clothing?’” Nathan joked.

student02But it’s not just the Japanese – Nathan appreciates all of his unique experiences at SDA. “I think it embodies the culture of Encinitas, how in the same way the town holds a special place for everyone, SDA manages to foster opportunities and niches for all of its students to fit in, while defining themselves and thriving in the fantastic educational climate there,” he said. Nathan has been a stand-out student at all the schools in the Encinitas Unified School District. So much so that in the 7th and 8th grades at Diegueno Middle School, he was voted “Most Likely to Succeed.”

While Nathan acknowledges most of his time is spent doing homework, going as far to call it his major “hobby,” he also values service work, having contributed over 200 hours during his high school career. Presently, Nathan is working on his Eagle Scout Project for the Rancho Coastal Humane Society, building exercise structures for the animals.

For inspiration, Nathan looks to his teacher, Tsuboi-sensei. “We’re able to learn about the culture and language in a way that would be impossible without an amazing teacher like Tsuboi-sensei,” he acknowledged. His favorite authors – the likes of Orwell, Nietzsche, and Bradbury – also serve as inspiration. Looking down the road, or across the ocean, Nathan dreams of becoming a philosophy professor at a university in Japan. Based on his success so far, this path across the Pacific Ocean will become a familiar one for Nathan.


Name: Nathan (Nate) Joseph Neumann (16)
School: San Dieguito Academy
Grade: 11
Parents: Krickett Neumann and Jim Neumann
Siblings: Nick Neumann (18, Senior at SDA)
Favorite Place in 92024: My room! SDA is a close second.