TOMODACHI, SoftBank Announce 2015 Leadership Program

Japanese High School Students from Tohoku Given Opportunity to Study in California

TOMODACHI Initiative

The TOMODACHI Initiative (hereafter “TOMODACHI”) and SoftBank Corp. (hereafter “SoftBank”) are pleased to announce the “TOMODACHI Summer 2015 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 22 to August 12 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 fourth year that TOMODACHI and SoftBank have partnered to offer this program. Many of the students from the past three years are now applying what they learned for the benefit of their home communities.

“Visiting the U.S. when I was 16 years old, learning a new culture and then studying at University of California, Berkeley, changed my life completely; it led me to believe you can change your future by challenging yourself to do new things,” said Masayoshi Son, Chairman and CEO of SoftBank. “This program, now in its fourth year, has seen participants over the past three years take advantage of their experiences gained in the U.S. They are starting all kinds of new activities in their local communities with great results. I strongly hope that this program will be the first step that enables even more high school students to follow their dreams.”

Interested students are encouraged to apply for the program via the link below. The application deadline is March 31, 2015. Participants will be selected at the end of May 2015.

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, that invests in the next generation of Japanese and American leaders through educational and cultural exchanges as well as leadership programs. We seek to foster a “TOMODACHI generation” of young American and Japanese leaders who are committed to and engaged in strengthening U.S.-Japan relations, appreciate each other's countries and cultures, and possess the global skills and mindsets needed to contribute to and thrive in a more cooperative, prosperous, and secure world.

TOMODACHI is led by the United States Embassy in Tokyo and the U.S.-Japan Council, a tax-exempt non-profit organization, and is supported by the Government of Japan, corporations, organizations and individuals from the United States and Japan.

Comments of Past Program Participants

Chisa Monma, after participating in the program in 2013, launched an organization called “trees” with the other participants, began the Internet mail order service “Somauma Teikibin” to deliver Soma's “Bussan” (local produced products) to everywhere in Japan. Monma's commented about this initiative as follows, “Attending the program we were able to obtain leadership skills and learned how to start local activities. In addition, it was possible to learn with new people at a new location. I was able to learn what other students in affected areas are doing to support others where they are from after the disaster. For “trees”, we have been getting involved with and receiving a lot of support from the local people; they are also finding the light of hope, little by little. I want to keep challenging myself to boost food business growth in Soma.”

Moka Sato, after participating in the program in 2014, has been preparing with other participants and adults for the United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture on March 14. In his exhibit content, “high school revolution” is the theme, and it shows footage of the high school students who have been working hard for the local community after the disaster and also the current situation of the region. She commented as follows, “By joining the program, I met with a variety of people and was able to learn a new way of life. I also found that I can change my own life, and that there are things you can only do with the support of others. To be able to exhibit at the United Nations World Conference that 40,000 people will attend is such a great opportunity for me. I want many people to understand more about the place that I love and Tohoku's current situation.”

For more information about the “Somauma Teikibin” click on the link below.

You can watch the video and see the past program participants.

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