updated 05/17/2014 AT 3:00 PM ET
•originally published 05/18/2014 AT 1:00 PM ET
While other undergrads are hanging out with friends on their school breaks, Jack Kennedy Schlossberg is following a family tradition.
The Yale student has joined his mom, U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, in Japan, where he was by her side as she toured the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant and visited an orphanage on Thursday.
The youngest child of Kennedy and her husband, Edwin Schlossberg – and only grandson of the late President Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy Onassis – Jack has slowly been stepping up to carry on the family tradition of public service.
“He’s very proud of his family and their contributions,” a Yale pal told PEOPLE last year.
“He’s very much focused on making his own path and not just the past. But he’s not spending a lot of time thinking about his family’s legacy or anything. He has to do his homework, study for exams and hang out with friends. He’s not walking around with a big sign above him, he’s proud of his family but he’s modest.”
Schlossberg, who is studying to be an EMT, shares his uncle’s sense of humor, pals say, and his close relationship with his mom could be seen as she smiled and he put his arm around her in Japan on Thursday.
“Caroline is very caring but not a helicopter parent,” another family friend says. “A supportive and low-key mom, she tries to maintain a sense of normalcy. But when you name your kid John Bouvier Kennedy Schlossberg he was going to be noticed.