Welcoming the TOMODACHI Generation to D.C

Welcoming the TOMODACHI Generation to D.C

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Christian Holm
February 23, 2015

A second cohort of 20 Japanese students arrived in Washington, D.C., in February to take part in the Building the TOMODACHI Generation program. The unique two-week leadership seminar is designed and administered by The Washington Center under the U.S.-Japan Council’s TOMODACHI Initiative.


Building the TOMODACHI Generation creates cross-cultural study opportunities for students from both the United States and Japan to build leadership skills. Participants also learn to develop cross-sector partnerships and use civil society as a tool to address social challenges that occur after a crisis or natural disaster – such as the 2011 earthquake whose fallout devastated Japan’s Tohoku region. The program is generously supported by Toyota Motor Corporation, Mitsubishi Corporation, Hitachi, Ltd. and Morgan Stanley.


Fifteen American students enrolled in TWC’s spring 2015 programs were selected to participate in the second Building the TOMODACHI Generation program alongside the Japanese students. After taking a tour of Washington, the Japanese students met their U.S. counterparts for a cross-cultural communication training session led by Yuuki Shinomiya, executive director of International Student Conferences, Inc.


During the program’s opening session on Feb. 16, Irene Hirano Inouye, president of the U.S-Japan Council and a member of TWC’s board of directors, offered the students her personal welcome as well as an overview of the TOMODACHI Initiative.


"You are a part of the TOMODACHI Generation," said Inoye, who was joined by TWC Managing Director Linda Cotton and Yoshiaki Abe, operating advisor for the U.S.-Japan Research Institute. All three speakers encouraged the students to make the most of their time during the program, learn from one another and build relationships.


Since the official program kickoff, students learned about the relationships between civil society and nonprofits, government and the private sector. They also learned about civil-society infrastructure and the role and impact of effective communication by meeting with scholars and experts and visiting prominent Washington organizations. During a leadership retreat on Feb. 21-23, TOMODACHI students engaged in team-building activities focused on developing civil-society projects. In the program’s second week, students will focus on key global skills such as leadership, innovation and critical thinking. These skills will contribute to their final team projects, which will be presented on Friday, Feb. 27 - the last day of the program.

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