TOMODACHI, SoftBank Group Corp. Announce the Summer 2016 Leadership Program

Japanese Tohoku High School Students Affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake Participate in a Workshop in California

TOMODACHI Initiative

February 3, 2016 — The TOMODACHI Initiative (hereafter “TOMODACHI”) and SoftBank Group Corp. (hereafter “SBG”) are pleased to announce the “TOMODACHI Summer 2016 SoftBank Leadership Program” that will take place from July 21, 2016 to August 11, 2016 (dates are tentative). Fully funded by SBG, this program will send 100 Japanese high school students from the disaster affected prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima to the University of California, Berkeley for an intensive three-week workshop focused on global leadership development and community service. The goal is for the participants to utilize what they learned on the program to strengthen their local communities in Tohoku and to become active leaders after returning to Japan.

During this program the students will explore methods for contributing to their local communities and be exposed to projects led by young people in the United States to inspire them to take action, while gaining a further understanding of American society and culture through homestays and exchanges with American high school students. In addition, this program will send six professionals from nonprofit organizations from the three prefectures to enable further support for the students' activities following their return.

Launched in 2012, the 2016 program marks the fifth year of this program. Many of the past program participants are currently actively applying what they learned on the program to improve their home communities. TOMODACHI and SBG plan on continuing this program until 2021.

“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 & CEO of SBG. “This program, now in its fifth year, has seen participants over the past four 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, 2016. Participants will be selected at the end of May 2016.
Application link:

Comments from Past Program Participants

Ms. Mizuki Sasaki (2015 Participant from Higashi-Matsushima City, Miyagi Prefecture)
After participating in the program, Ms. Sasaki created a television commercial with a friend that showed the allure of Matsushima City. This commercial was submitted to the “JIMOT CM COMPETITION,” a contest held by the Okinawa International Movie Festival to promote the charms of local regions across Japan and throughout Asia, and was selected as a video that is representative of Miyagi prefecture. “This program allowed me to realize that there are many different types of people who are living in Miyagi prefecture, and many of the people I have met have inspired me. Higashi-Matsushima is not as well-known as Matsushima City, and I was unable to respond when people asked me what the allure of my city is. As I researched the city, I realized there were many charming qualities about the city that I would like other people to discover. This is what led me to create the commercial. Going forward, I would like expand my activities and become involved in communicating the charms of all of Miyagi,” shared Ms. Sasaki.

Ms. Yuki Terasaki (2014 Participant from Kamaishi City, Iwate Prefecture)
After participating in the program, Ms. Terasaki realized that she would like to change many of her fellow high school students' notions of wanting to “move to the city” and to discover their love for their local community. She became involved with organizing volunteer activities such as planning Japanese fairs in which local high school students actively participated in selling goods. “Out of the 100 participants in the program, many of the active students inspired me to become more actively involved. Kamaishi is recovering [from the disaster], but I feel it is not yet restored. Although there are volunteers who come from outside the prefecture, I would greatly appreciate it if they would visit the city as tourists and spend some money in the communities to help the economy. Going forward I would like to plan events that can only take place in Kamaishi to attract people from Tokyo to visit Kamaishi despite the long travel time,” Ms. Terasaki said.

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