August 22nd, 2013
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This July, U.S.-Japan Council Member Bill Tsutsui had the opportunity to meet several Japanese students as they participated in the Dallas-Sendai Young Ambassadors Program, supported in part by TOMODACHI's Fund for Exchanges. He reflects on his experiences below:
On the surface, at least, Sendai and Dallas look like very, very different places. But while cowboy boots and big hair might look a little out of place on Zozenji-dori during Tanabata Festival, the spirits of these two dynamic cities might be a lot more similar than most people would at first assume.
Last month I had the pleasure of meeting nine middle and high school students from Sendai, here in North Texas for a week as part of the Dallas-Sendai Young Ambassadors Program. International friendship cities since 1997, Dallas and Sendai have a history of collaborations, including the exchange of youth delegations. But the relationship has grown since the tragedies of 3.11 awakened so many people, both in Tohoku and in Texas, to the need to build even stronger bridges of friendship across the Pacific. And thanks to the support of the TOMODACHI Initiative and the sponsorship of Japan-America Society of Dallas/Fort Worth, we have had a wonderful opportunity this summer to show some warm Texas hospitality to a new generation of leaders from Sendai.
The Young Ambassadors had a full schedule in Big D. After being made honorary citizens of Dallas at City Hall, they toured some of our newest civic gems - the Perot Museum of Nature and Science and the George W. Bush Presidential Center - and learned about some of Dallas’s own painful history at Dealey Plaza and the Sixth Floor Museum. In addition to homestays that reflected the vibrant diversity of North Texas (with Venezuelan, Indian, Portuguese and African American host families), our new friends seemed to have particularly enjoyed their first experiences on horses, in a trail ride at the Fort Worth Stockyards.
When I met with the students from Sendai on a very hot July afternoon, I was immediately impressed by their easy smiles, by their energy and by their clear excitement about visiting Dallas. As I talked with them, I was struck again and again by their optimism, their eagerness to learn and experience new things and the scale of their ambitions, for themselves personally, for their home town and for Japan. More than one talked with me about wanting to study in the United States and pursue a career that spanned our countries and cultures. I couldn’t help but think that these young people from Tohoku would make good Texans, with spirits that are open and generous, horizons that are broad and aspirations that know no bounds. Spending time with these impressive Young Ambassadors, it was impossible not to feel confident about the future of Tohoku, U.S.-Japan relations and the world they will make.
U.S.-Japan Council Member, 2011 JALD
Registration is now open for the U.S.-Japan Council's 4th Annual Conference, held in Washington, DC from October 3rd-4th. This year's conference, Risk, Reward and Innovation: Opportunities for the U.S. and Japan, will bring together leading subject experts and visionaries to discuss the long-term benefits of taking risks and daring to move from trusted to innovative courses of action.
Keynote Speakers include: Mr. John Strangfeld, Chairman, CEO and President, Prudential Financial, Inc., Mr. Hiroaki Nakanishi, President of Hitachi, Ltd. and Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, Recipient of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Friday afternoon's closing session will highlight several successful Japanese Americans in U.S. society. Look for speakers to be announced very soon!
Register today to lock in early bird rates!
Thursday, October 3rd (5:30 pm - 7:00 pm): Opening Reception on Capitol Hill
Friday, October 4th (8:30 am - 7:00 pm): Annual Conference and Closing Reception at the Capital Hilton
The TOMODACHI Summer BEYOND Tomorrow U.S. Program is organized for Tohoku students who have high aspirations to overcome the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami to become global leaders in the future. This year, 12 selected students traveled to San Francisco, California and New York from August 6 to 16, 2013, meeting people and organizations notable for their proactive efforts in improving society.
This year's participants, most of them college students, are motivated to engage in activities or found companies in fields like disaster recovery, IT, communications and international relations. Some of them are alumni of other BEYOND Tomorrow and TOMODACHI programs, and chose to participate again this year based on their positive experience.
The people they met in California included scholars from Stanford University (where they gave presentations in English), Japanese American interns at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California and USJC members such as Dan Okimoto, Naomi Funahashi and Allen Okamoto. The participants also had the opportunity to meet students currently on the TOMODACHI Summer SoftBank Leadership Program, visiting them at University of California, Berkeley.
The individuals they spoke to in New York included U.S. Japan Foundation and U.S.-Japan Leadership Program Fellows. On August 14, they gave closing presentations at the Japan Society in New York and met with USJC members and other Japanese American leaders, engaging in conversation through a dinner reception organized by the Japanese American Association of New York.
USJC is proud to announce the members of the 2013 Emerging Leaders Program. In its fourth year, the Emerging Leaders Program will bring 12 Japanese American young professionals to Washington, DC for the 2013 U.S.-Japan Council Annual Conference. The Emerging Leaders will participate in a leadership orientation program, network with high level leaders, attend all conference events and participate in the Annual Members Meeting.
This year's class of Emerging Leaders:
Applications are now being accepted for the Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD) program. JALD provides the opportunity for a select group of Japanese American leaders from across the U.S. to travel to Japan to engage with Japanese leaders. Upon their return, delegates collaborate with program alumni, the local consulates, the U.S.-Japan Council and local and national community organizations to continue strengthening ties between the U.S. and Japan.
Since the program began in 2000, a total of 156 delegates have participated. The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), represented in the United States by the Embassy of Japan in Washington, D.C. and seventeen consulate general offices, is the sponsor of JALD. The U.S.-Japan Council provides administration and organization for the program.
The U.S.-Japan Council is proud to be a supporting organization for the fourth annual Japanese Heritage Night at New York's Citi Park next Wednesday, August 28th. The Mets will be playing the Philadelphia Phillies.
There will be a special Japanese Heritage Night pre-game show that begins at 6:30pm featuring the Japanese Folk Dance Institute, the Japanese Men’s Choir, taiko and fue master Kaoru Watanabe and Spirit Award presentations to important members of New York's Japanese American community. Designated seats purchased at mets.com/japan will help benefit theJapanese American Association's Committee on Aging Issues.
More information is available on the event's Facebook page.