On April 12, 2014, U.S.-Japan Council staff members, former TOMODACHI participants and volunteers publicized TOMODACHI Initiative programs and activities at the Sakura Matsuri, an annual street festival in Washington, DC that celebrates cherry blossoms and Japanese culture. Through the “TOMODACHI Tent,” we informed the public about the various opportunities the Initiative offers. We also asked people who stopped by the tent to help create a collage of the TOMODACHI logo with their thumbprints, engaging children, adults and even a dog that left its pawprint. (See photos here)
USJC Associate Member Lauren Ohata (pictured above left) volunteered for TOMODACHI, and many of our sponsors stopped by. Associate Members Georgette Fukurawa-Martinez and Yuuki Shinomiya also volunteered at the Sakura Matsuri. Ambassador and Mrs. Sasae even paid us a visit!
Volunteers at our tent included past participants from the Building the TOMODACHI Generation program, the TOMODACHI BEYOND Tomorrow program and the TOMODACHI U.S.-Japan Youth Exchange Program (Jatalia Wilson, above right). They shared their personal experience with the visitors, and enjoyed the opportunity to meet fellow TOMODACHI alumni in the DC area. This epitomized the continued engagement of the TOMODACHI generation to strengthen U.S.-Japan relations.
As I was responsible for coordinating part of this event, I was happy to see how so many people were interested in the TOMODACHI Initiative and its cause, and how past TOMODACHI participants were eager to volunteer to stay engaged with us.
The Sakura Matsuri is hosted by the Japan-America Society of Washington DC, and is part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.