The TOMODACHI Initiative

The TOMODACHI Initiative

In 2011, a 9.0 earthquake off the coast of the Tohoku region shook 30m beneath sea level, causing a 133ft tsunami that devastated a thriving nation. There were over 15,894 deaths and thousands injured and/or missing. The water damage ruined thousands of buildings and destroyed the fishing industry forever. In total, 4.4 million households were left with no power or water.

 

 

However, through the devastation and rubble, Japan saw hope. Volunteers, funding and advocacy groups flooded into Japan. Years later, the region is improving. Though many still find life difficult in temporary housing, there continues to be many efforts to restore the Tohoku region to its former glory.

 

 

 

In the past two weeks, I had the pleasure of being a part of an amazing program called TOMODACHI that engages 20 Japanese students and 15 U.S. students in an outstanding opportunity to:


1. Understand the concept of civil society and its potential to address social issues, as well as the role and function of civil society in the U.S. and Japan.


2. Enhance teamwork and collaboration skills by working as part of an international team (U.S. and Japanese) and developing an initiative that uses cross-sector partnerships to support the long-term recovery of the Tohoku region and strengthen civil society.


3. Strengthen key global skills such as cross-cultural understanding, leadership, public speaking, social responsibility, innovation, problem-solving, critical thinking, communication and networking skills through participation in team-building exercises, discussions, workshops, a capstone project and other program activities.

 

This experience gave me knowledge and professionalism that I will take with me for the rest of my life. The non-profit sector is a growing field that directly impacts the civil society. Before this program, I would see a non-profit and think “they don’t make money” or “they are just funded by small donors.” Actually, the non-profit sector is growing and continues to dominate as the most competitive sector even in times of economic distress.

 

What is a Civil Society?

 

A civil society is the key factor when it comes to evaluating the common good, the significance of wealth, and the benefits of being in a well-constructed town, village, and or country. However, with a poor infrastructure and with no proper funding it can be destructive and lead to a long list of issues. Essentially, it is a very delicate balance of trust and conflict.


The program itself was so well-executed, it would have been just fine if we were paired with American students. But, we got to be paired with some of the most intelligent and well-educated students of Japan. This program did not simply include different cultures and international understanding through readings and rhetoric, but also through the people. To connect with so many people with various backgrounds was truly inspiring.


The program, believe it or not, gave me insight to a world that is not so big. It also reminded me, that life has a weird way of connecting us and though technology, friendships, and the growing world around us; I know I will see my fellow TOMODACHI Generation brethren again.


Thank you TWC, Jung and Kyle for a phenomenal experience. I hope the same is repeated for many years to come.

 

TWC Student Spotlight: Riddhi Bajaj

Riddhi is a graduate student all the way from India who dances, studies, and will eventually change the world for the better. This is how she is doing thus far in D.C.

 

Experiences color your personality, helping you grow and evolve, into a version of you that exhibits variety and endurance. This is the central reason for me to be here: to gain the experience and add to my skill-set in different variants of business studies. This opportunity has driven me towards independence and the confidence to be able to analyze and add to my long-term career goals. An internship with a merchant bank here in D.C. has given me a great insight on how international companies work and collaborate for mutual benefits.


This experience has equipped me to interact with world leaders and gain expertise in economics and business policy. I have reaffirmed my idealized belief in the strength of multicultural interactions and knowledge sharing. Most of all, it has  brought me closer to being a part of a larger whole and connected me directly with international business.

 

Advice:

Make sure you are open to new experiences and are willing to go through whatever best comes in your way. The most important thing is to be yourself and not fake it.


Read Pedro's previous blog posts here

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