TOMODACHI, SoftBank Announce 2014 Leadership Program

~Japanese High Schoolers from Tohoku Will Be Given Opportunity to Study in California~

TOMODACHI InitiativeSoftBank Corp.

The TOMODACHI Initiative (hereafter “TOMODACHI”) and SoftBank Corp. (hereafter “SoftBank”) are pleased to announce the “TOMODACHI Summer 2014 SoftBank Leadership Program.” Fully funded by SoftBank, this program will send approximately 100 Japanese high school students from the disaster affected prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima to the University of California, Berkeley. The July 21 to August 10 program is an intensive three-week course focused on global leadership, development and community service. Participating students will explore methods for strengthening their local communities, while gaining a further understanding of American society and culture through homestays, volunteer activities, and exchanges with U.S. high school students. In addition, this program will send a number of professionals from the three prefectures to enable further support for the students’ activities following their return.

This is the third year that TOMODACHI and SoftBank have partnered to offer this program. Many of the students from the past two years are now applying what they learned for the benefit of their home communities.

In recognition of this important program, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy stated, “I am delighted that we are partnering with SoftBank to provide a life-changing exchange experience to students from Tohoku for the third year in a row. Connections between the young people of our two countries are what will sustain and strengthen the U.S.-Japan relationship long into the future.”

“Visiting the U.S. when I was a high school student and studying in Berkeley changed my life completely,” said Masayoshi Son, Chairman and CEO of SoftBank. “You can change the future by challenging yourself. I sincerely hope that high school students participating in this program will learn about leadership and make the most of their experience in California for their own future and success.”

Interested students are encouraged to apply for program via the link below. The due date for applications is March 24, 2014. Participants will be chosen at the end of May 2014.

About the TOMODACHI Initiative

The TOMODACHI Initiative is a public-private partnership, born out of support for Japan’s recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake. TOMODACHI invests in the next generation of Japanese and American leaders through educational and cultural exchanges as well as leadership programs.

TOMODACHI Summer 2012 SoftBank Leadership Program
Statement of participant Shota Tabe

After participating in the TOMODACHI-SoftBank Leadership Program in 2012, Shota Tabe developed a proposal with his fellow students to help bolster the local economy of his hometown, Iwaki City in Fukushima Prefecture. The students worked with the Japanese travel agency H.I.S. Co., Ltd. and instituted a unique series of sightseeing tours named TOMOTRA, which are designed to increase the number of visitors to Iwaki.

Shota Tabe spoke of his experience as follows:
“Through the TOMODACHI SoftBank Leadership Program, I learned the importance of taking the initiative to get things done. Rather than not doing something because nobody else is, I saw that by taking it upon myself to plan and make proposals, I could put my ideas into action. In the US I met a lot of fellow students with big dreams, and by working with those around me, I was able to feel the sense of achievement that comes from doing something big that I could not do on my own. Through the TOMOTRA Tour, we, the organizers, and the participants were able to better understand each other and forge new bonds of friendship. Thanks to the Tour, we have more people supporting recovery efforts, and this is greatly encouraging us for future activities.”

Introductory video of TOMOTRA

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