Meet the 2016-17 Watanabe Scholars


In the inaugural program year 2016-17, scholarships support Japanese undergraduate students studying abroad in the United States. Please join us in welcoming:


Home Institution: Tohoku University
Study Abroad: University of California, Riverside (Riverside, CA)


Born and raised in Japan, Masumi wants to expand her values and deepen her understanding of America during her year of study in the United States. She wants to become a high school English teacher in the future. She has three goals for her year abroad: improving her English communication skills, studying American teaching methods and finding a way to make learning English enjoyable. Masumi is extremely grateful for the Watanabe Scholarship because after the passing of her father three years ago, despite the hard work of her mother and sister, she still needed financial support to study abroad. She is really excited to meet open-minded people from various backgrounds while in the United States.


Home Institution: Tohoku University
Study Abroad: University of California, Davis (Davis, CA)


Sakura is spending one year studying Community and Regional Development at the University of California, Davis. Sakura thinks one of the most attractive aspects of the exchange is the opportunity to study a field that is more advanced in the United States than it is in Japan. She is excited to return to California where she participated in the TOMODACHI Softbank Summer Leadership program, a five-week program for high school students focused on leadership and regional development. She was inspired by that experience to return to the United States as a college student. Sakura is extremely grateful for this scholarship because it allows her to focus on her studies without having to worry about finances.


Home Institution: Josai International University
Study Abroad: University of California, Riverside (Riverside, CA)


Misaki’s hometown is Onagawa, Miyagi prefecture, one of the towns severely impacted by the tsunami following the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011. After hearing about this scholarship from a teacher, he decided to study in the United States this past March. He is looking forward to improving his English listening and speaking skills. Misaki visited the United States last summer and is interested in experiencing and learning about cultures outside of Japan.


Home Institution: Keio University
Study Abroad: Manhattanville College (Purchase, NY)


Yuri applied for this scholarship to achieve her goal of becoming a socially responsible global leader who contributes to society. She is particularly interested in Social Impact Investment (SII), and wants to study and engage in this field and become a social entrepreneur. She wants to gain a more varied perspective on global social activities, because it is difficult to solve social problems from a purely domestic viewpoint. One of her goals for study abroad is to learn how global business is organized and how people work and cooperate in a diverse environment. She hopes to intern at a leading global company in New York during the year as well. In her spare time she enjoys drawing. She is interested in American art and would like to explore it more in New York.


Home Institution: Keio University
Study Abroad: College of William and Mary (Williamsburg, VA)


Gota is excited to attend William and Mary this academic year. There are three subjects he wants to study: international politics and diplomacy, business, and African studies. He is looking forward to not only the academic aspect, but also the practical experience of living everyday life in the United States. He is planning to learn about different cultures by participating in activities with cultural houses on campus. He thinks he will treasure his study abroad experience, both in and outside of the classroom, for the rest of his life.


Home Institution: Keio University
Study Abroad: Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA)


Marika is a junior at Keio University, majoring in Economics with an emphasis on Finance and Public Policies. While at Keio, she was engaged in AIESEC activities and joined three international conferences. As an intern, she worked for the Japan Representative Office at UNHCR. She is an energetic English teacher for junior high school students at a cram school in Tokyo. She loves Thai food and traveling. Her dream is to contribute to the expansion of foreign companies in the Japanese market, offering business management consulting in Japan. While studying in America, Marika hopes to establish relationships with like-minded people from different cultural backgrounds. She hopes to observe how various other students think about issues and how their cultural backgrounds influence their decisions.


Home Institution: International Christian University
Study Abroad: University of California, Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)


Shiori is a junior from the International Christian University in Japan, majoring in International Relations. Her interest lies in the field of international security, nuclear disarmament and arms control in Africa. She appreciates this opportunity to study political science at UCLA for one year. In addition to her studies, she is interested in the multicultural environment in the United States, which is like a microcosm of international relations. From this, she hopes to gain insight and experience that will help her become a true global citizen.


Home Institution: Tohoku University 
Study Abroad: University of California, San Diego (San Diego, CA)


Akitoshi majors in Mechanical Engineering and aspires to be an aircraft engineer. He hopes this year abroad will help him become the type of person who can handle all types of problems. He is interested in talking with people from different backgrounds about the social problems facing Japan, and hearing their perspectives on how the country can move forward in a positive direction. Building this network of friends who are critical thinkers can help him cultivate different points of view. Outside the classroom, he would like to visit places related to aircraft engineering. Akitoshi applied for this scholarship to fund his study abroad. He is sure his time in the United States will be valuable to his personal growth, while also fun!


Home Institution: Tsuda College
Study Abroad: Spelman College (Atlanta, GA)


Chisato is passionate about immigration and counterterrorism. She will study politics at Spelman College, one of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), as one of only a handful of Asian students. In Tokyo, she interned at Foreign Affairs Japan, the House of Councilors and a security-focused think tank. She is also an alumna of the TOMODACHI Social Innovation in Seattle scholars (SIIS) program, where she completed leadership training and an internship with the Japanese Cultural and Community Center in Washington. She wants to pursue two main questions in the United States: “What is diversity?” and “What is diversity inclusion?” She looks forward to living in an African-American community and challenging the ideas she grew up with in Japan. She also believes her experience at Spelman will deepen her understanding of U.S. political culture and political issues. Above all, Chisato is really looking forward to experiencing the presidential election.


Home Institution: Aoyama Gakuin
Study Abroad: San Francisco State University (San Francisco, CA)


Ever since she attended a concert by Ugandan children when she was 15 years old, Ayano became interested in wealth disparity and its relation to international politics. She decided to study international politics in university. She is also interested in studying ethnic identities. In order to learn how people of different ethnicities and backgrounds live together, she wanted to study abroad in San Francisco, as it is known for its diversity. The two reasons she applied for this scholarship are: to grow as a leader of the next generation, and to encourage students who are ready to give up on the idea of studying abroad. She believes she can act as a leader and contributor to the U.S.-Japan relationship through cross-cultural understanding. She is confident that she can gain a great deal of knowledge not only though lectures but also through people-to-people relationships.