At the reception at TWC on February 26 (Photos courtesy of TWC)
The Building the TOMODACHI Generation program has concluded successfully. During the two-week program, U.S.-Japan Council members, TOMODACHI sponsors and guests celebrated the Japanese and American participants with several events.
During the two-week program, participants took part in team-building exercises in addition to lectures and discussions
On February 26, a reception was held at The Washington Center (TWC). TWC President Michael Smith, U.S-Japan Research Institute (USJI) President Katsuichi Uchida and USJC Program Manager Mya Fisher offered brief remarks, congratulating the participants on their success and hard work during the program, and wishing them luck on their presentations the following day. This program is generously supported by Toyota Motor Corporation, Mitsubishi Corporation and Hitachi, Ltd. through the TOMODACHI Fund for Exchanges, as well as by Morgan Stanley.
Five groups took turns presenting on projects to address issues in Tohoku
On February 27, the students took part in a group presentation competition. The 35 participants of this year's program (20 Japanese and 15 American college students) were divided into five teams and were tasked with developing and presenting an idea for a project to address a specific need or issue of people in the Tohoku region. Projects ranged from cross-generational community gardens in Ishinomaki and small gardens for orphanages, to training for young entrepreneurs in Miyagi. Teams Fuku Mirai (Happy Future) and Itadaki (Above the Clouds) were awarded the top prize for: their educational programs on PTSD in Iwate and Miyagi (Fuku Mirai) and digital education program for seniors in Rikuzentakata (Itadaki). The presentations were judged by a panel comprised of USJI President Katsuichi Uchida, TWC's Pilar Mendiola Fernandez, Christopher Cook of Keel Point Advisors, and USJC Associate Member Brandon Mita. The judges were impressed by the teams' ideas and their detailed plans on how to implement their proposals. American students of the two winning teams will travel to Japan this summer, visiting Tohoku to participate in community and service projects.
Judges of the final presentations included Associate Member Brandon Mita (second from left)
The Japanese students returned to Japan on February 28 and made their presentations to representatives of Morgan Stanley and the Fund for Exchanges companies. The American participants will continue their semester interning in the Washington, DC area before returning to their universities across the United States this summer. "The Building the TOMODACHI Generation program . . . allowed my teammates and myself to create a bond and commitment to the betterment of our communities and to lasting international friendships," said Jacob C. Mackey, a participant from the University of Tampa. We look forward to seeing Teams Fuku Mirai and Itadaki again in the summer!
Fuku Mirai is one of the winning teams that will reconvene in Tohoku this summer
Click here to see more photos from the Building the TOMODACHI Generation Program.