Creating Partnerships For Social Problem Solving

Creating Partnerships For Social Problem Solving

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Maha Neouchy
March 13, 2014

From February 15th through March 3rd, a group of TWC interns participated in the inaugural "Creating Partnerships for Social Problem Solving" civic engagement project. Over the course of two weeks, these interns worked closely with Japanese students participating in the "Building the TOMODACHI Generation" leadership program, and learned about how different communities had to cope with multiple disasters such as the tsunami, earthquake and nuclear power plant disaster that struck the Tohoku region in Japan.


The interns worked on a number of service projects and conducted special site visits to help them develop a civil society initiative in support of the long-term recovery in Japan, which was affected by both a tsunami and earthquake in 2011. The first part of the project allowed participants to engage in discussion with experts in the nonprofit, government and private sector whose expertise focuses on disaster relief and partnership development. Notable organizations the students worked with included:


The second part of the project gave these students the chance to enhance their cross-cultural understanding, leadership and other key global skills by working in international teams to develop their civil society initiative. Star Wynn, a student from High Point University, chose to participate in this civic engagement project because it was a way to bring change in a huge way: "I was drawn to the fact that we were going to create an initiative that had the potential to transform the whole Tohoku region." For Wynn, the highlight of her experience was working with the Japanese students themselves: "They were so kind, so humble, creative, and made all of the early mornings and late nights a lot more pleasurable."


Students were designated to one of four teams, each one made up of four Japanese students participating in the “Building the TOMODACHI Generation” leadership program and three TWC interns. Together, they presented their initiative efforts during the U.S.-Japan Research Institute’s (USJI) Week on February 28th. José Auffant, a student at Inter-American University of Puerto Rico, talked about the impact that the project has made on his internship so far: "This experience doesn’t only tie in well with my spring experience, it took it to another level. I'm already applying everything that I learned with my friends from Puerto Rico as we try to develop a social project for the island. If it wasn’t for everything I learned thanks to TOMODACHI, I wouldn’t have been able to think about aspects such as fundraising, bridging and stewardship."


The two winning team projects will travel to the Tohoku region of Japan later this year to continue their partnership with a service project coordinated by Waseda University.


"Creating Partnerships for Social Problem Solving/TOMODACHI" civic engagement participants from the U.S. included:


The Washington Center produces not only future leaders in their professions but also well-informed citizens who are engaged with their communities and their world. The goal of the civic engagement projects is to allow students to become well informed about an issue they care about and then work to make a positive difference in public life at the local, national or global level. Students devote a minimum of 15 hours over the course of the semester to active learning (attending meetings, lectures and hearings) and action (advocacy or volunteering). By the end of the semester, students write a three-to-four page report reflecting on the experience and articulating how the project helped them become more informed citizens. Find out more about
civic engagement efforts in TWC's current and previous terms.

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