Meet the 2022-23 Watanabe Scholars
Ⓐ indicates a previous recipient of the scholarship
** indicates a TOMODACHI alumnus or previous recipient
^ indicates a graduate student
Home Institution: University of Connecticut
Host Institution: Waseda University
Receiving the Toshizo Watanabe Study Abroad Scholarship has given Sabrina the opportunity to pursue her dream of traveling to Japan ever since she was young. With this opportunity, Sabrina is genuinely grateful that the many years of hard work in learning and practicing Japanese will soon be paid off. As an active filmmaker, Sabrina is looking forward to recording her daily life while she’s in Japan so that both Japanese and American viewers can see the perspective of someone from a completely different background in a different culture and environment. Sabrina is also looking forward to developing connections with Japanese natives in hopes of building a stronger relationship with Japanese citizens which will help her in her future endeavors. Studying abroad in Japan is something that Sabrina has hoped to do for a very long time, and her goal is coming true with the help of the Toshizo Watanabe Study Abroad Scholarship.
Home Institution: McKendree University
Gota is a freshman at McKendree University and a degree-seeking student majoring in international relations and urban planning. At the beginning of his senior year of high school, he thought he would go to a Japanese university, but an online program by Stanford University gave him a great opportunity to consider studying abroad in the United States after graduation. He also took part in practical courses by the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and realized the country is the best place for him because the education systems at American schools enable him to try interdisciplinary studies. Gota has been interested in city design and urban construction. He has traveled all over Japan since he was a kid, which encouraged him to study those fields. Also, as an extracurricular activity, he participated in Peace Messengers and learned the importance of realizing a peaceful world. He has become more eager to cultivate global diplomacy skills and expand his perspectives of political science. He believes receiving the Watanabe Scholarship is very invaluable for him and not only will it support him financially but also strengthen his passion to learn a new skill every day through life in the United States.
Home Institution: University of Massachusetts Amherst
Host Institution: Hokkaido University
afaith is a Senior at The University of Massachusetts Amherst. Lafaith is double majoring in Communications and Japanese with a minor in psychology. Lafaith has been interested in learning more about Japan ever since she began taking Japanese language classes at her high school. In high school, Japanese was Lafaith’s favorite class. As a fellow minority, Lafaith is very interested in promoting cultural diversity and making the world more inclusive. Lafaith will be studying abroad at Hokkaido University during Spring 2023. Lafaith plans to utilize her Japanese language skills in her future career. Lafaith is extremely excited about being able to immerse herself into Japanese culture and being able to further her language ability. Lafaith is very excited to join cultural clubs and see the beautiful city of Sapporo. Lafaith is more than grateful to be able to go to Japan and hopes she can inspire other young people from low-income households to pursue their dreams regardless of their financial predicament.
Home Institution: Keio University
Host Institution: Boston University
Kanon is most interested in learning about journalism and the media industry during her study abroad. She is currently studying mainly political science at the Department of Political Science in the Faculty of Law at Keio University. In the process, she became interested in the influence of mass media on politics and how journalism should inform society. So, she decided to study in the U.S., where journalism and the media industry are at the cutting edge. Kanon is going to study at Boston University, which offers a wide range of journalism-related courses in its College of Communication. Also, one of the main reasons for her decision to study in the U.S. is her longing for America, which she has had since she was a child. Kanon loves American popular culture (music, etc.) and would like to study the social impact of this on the United States and the world. She has never traveled or studied abroad in an English-speaking country, so this will be her very first time, but she is determined to make her study abroad experience one that she will not regret.
Home Institution: Randolph-Macon College
Host Institution: Kansai Gaidai University
Receiving the Toshizo Watanabe Scholarship means more to Emily than getting to travel to a different country. To Emily, receiving this scholarship gives her the means she needs to start her lifelong dream of seeing our world’s truth. Growing up in a military family and seeing her mother battle and win her fight against cancer lit a fire in Emily to see as much of the world as humanly possible. Life is too short and there are far too many things to do and people to meet. By traveling to Japan with this scholarship Emily will have the opportunity to meet new people and experience a new culture firsthand. Rather than learning how people live in a book, she will be able to learn how people live through her own experiences. This scholarship allows Emily to begin her journey of learning how people live their lives starting on opposite sides of the globe.
Hiroshi AZUMA ^
Home Institution: Johns Hopkins University
After spending his early years in Osaka, Nara, and Kyoto, Hiroshi moved to Tokyo and trained as a mental health professional. His experience in the process, especially the encounter and interaction with people with severe mental illness who stay at a psychiatric hospital for decades, has inspired him to pursue the Master of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. In spite of both being a high-income country, the mental health care system of the U.S. and Japan could not be more different, and neither, in his view, is ideal. Through his graduate studies, Hiroshi hopes to clarify the current problems of each country and propose a better way to care for individuals in both communities. Anxious about the rising tuition and weakening Japanese yen, Hiroshi sincerely appreciates the generous support from the Watanabe Scholarship. His other interests include the so-called “cancel culture” at elite institutions and social divisions in the U.S., which he expects to observe firsthand in the city of Baltimore.
Home Institution: University of Maryland, College Park
Host Institution: Waseda University
Rebekah is a senior Japanese Major at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her interest in Japanese culture started from a young age when she first began watching anime and reading manga but was amplified in her teens when she was lucky enough to study abroad at 15 in Akita, Japan. Ever since then, she has been determined to return to improve her Japanese and make more connections. She will be spending the 2022-2023 school year at Waseda University studying the Japanese language and learning more about Japanese culture in the Center for Japanese Language. She looks forward to making new friends and engaging with the community in which she will be living. None of this would be possible without the help of the Toshizo Watanabe Study Abroad Scholarship; coming from a single parent household, without the help of this scholarship, Rebekah would not be able to go abroad. She hopes to continue to facilitate cross-cultural interactions between Americans and Japanese. Post graduation, she plans to return to Japan to teach English and is interested in becoming an American diplomat in Japan. Upon her return to the U.S., she will share her experiences at her university through their Japanese American Student Association.
Shohta FUJII ^
Home Institution: American Film Institute
Shohta was born and raised in Japan. He is a self-starting cinematographer with three years of experience working on documentary and commercial sets in Japan. He graduated from Osaka City University in 2013 and started his career as a filmmaker for local business owners and volunteer jobs for local people. From there, he learned basic skills of filmmaking such as compositions, exposures, lighting, and editing. As a cinematographer, he worked with Japanese clients as well as international clients such as IOC, Microsoft, Rakuten, DAZN and Google. AFI Conservatory in California is his next challenge offering the MFA program for learning skills of narrative filmmaking. This opportunity to study abroad with the Watanabe Scholarship is very special for him because of his experience of giving up education in Tokyo University due to a financial problem nine years ago. Acquiring techniques and meeting passionate people in the school will help him to reach his goal to be an international filmmaker. He looks forward to being a valuable resource to build a bridge between Japanese and American film industries.
Home Institution: Missouri State University
Host Institution: Toyo University
Ashley is a Senior at Missouri State University double majoring in Modern Language-Japanese and Hospitality Leadership-Tourism. When she was younger, Ashley became interested in Japan by watching the Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu’s interpreted interviews from English to Japanese. Ever since, she has wanted to interpret for as many languages as possible. She began learning Japanese and Spanish her first year of college and is continuing her studies. She chose Japanese because it uses Chinese characters, and the alphabet has a similar format to Korean. This way, she can someday interpret those languages, too. Ashley is involved in multiple international organizations, including the Association of International Students, was chosen to be a Global Leader and Mentor, and is a member of the Springfield Sister Cities Association. In her free time, she tutors the English Language Institute students, who, in return, help her practice speaking Japanese. Ashley is extremely grateful for the opportunity Mr. Watanabe has provided her to attend Toyo University in Fall 2022. In Japan, Ashley is most looking forward to experiencing new culture, gaining memorable experiences, and accumulating language acquisition to become an interpreter that helps others bridge various communication gaps.
Home Institution: Appalachian State University
Host Institution: Kansai Gaidai University
Savanna is a sophomore at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. She is currently studying English with a concentration in Film Studies, and double-minoring in Psychology and Japanese. Savanna’s appreciation for Japanese culture began by consuming Japanese media: mainly shows, movies, and music. She enjoys dissecting the media around her to understand how it both reflects and shapes the culture around us. Additional topics of interest in her field include depicting the queer experience and animation as a medium. Savanna wishes to work in the Japanese film industry, specifically in the production, translation, and exportation of anime to the United States. To Savanna, the Toshizo Watanabe Study Abroad Scholarship is a chance to follow her passions. While at Kansai Gaidai, Savanna is excited to explore the greater Kansai region, develop her Japanese language skills, and make lasting personal connections. She looks forward to visiting temples, drinking tea, and eating local street food.
Yuichi FUKUNAGA **
Home Institution: Williams College
Yuichi is a first-generation and an international student at Williams College (Honor’s Candidate for Psychology Major with Neuroscience Concentration). He previously attended the Faculty of Economics, Keio University and has had experiences in business development (i.e. healthcare and education) in Tokyo, Japan. Yuichi is currently pursuing a research career in neuroscience and planning to apply to PhD programs in neuroscience in the United States. His research interest is the neurobiological mechanisms of the development of mood and anxiety disorders. Yuichi aspires to become a professional with a unique background both in healthcare business development and fundamental research in neuroscience. The reception of the Watanabe Scholarship will reinforce his academic pursuit for its honor and generous support. Yuichi will continue working on his research at Williams and develop more robust foundations for his future research career.
Home Institution: California State University Monterey Bay
Host Institution: Ritsumeikan University
Hannah is a senior at California State University Monterey Bay with a major in Japanese Language & Culture and a minor in Visual & Public Art and will be attending Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto for the Fall 2022 – Spring 2023 semesters. She has wanted to study abroad and live in Japan since she was twelve years old, and this would not have been possible without the support of Mr. Watanabe through this scholarship. Hannah is eternally grateful for the opportunity to continue to learn about Japanese history, culture, and language while also exploring daily life in Kyoto. Upon returning from Japan, she hopes to complete and earn her degree and apply for the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET), so she may continue to learn more about Japan as well as give back by teaching English. She is excited to explore the world, improve upon her language proficiency skills, try new food, and make new lifelong friends. She is most looking forward to visiting many shrines, going to the hot springs, and exploring Gion in Kyoto. The Toshizo Watanabe Study Abroad Scholarship has made it possible for Hannah to achieve the highest of her dreams and goals.
Home Institution: Drake University
Host Institution: Kwansei Gakuin University
Jazmine is a senior at Drake University, where she majors in International Relations and minors in Political Science. She currently works as a research assistant at Drake, assisting with the editing process for two special issues pertaining to Asian memory studies and Japanese political history. Through her research assistant experience, Jazmine gained a growing interest in Japanese history, politics, and culture. She also has a huge interest in foreign languages, as she speaks three languages and is currently self-learning Japanese. It is these two interests, coupled with her desire to travel, that inspired her to attend Kwansei Gakuin University. Aside from furthering her Japanese, she is excited to learn and experience the everyday life and politics of Japan. She is excited to familiarize herself with her school’s campus, her residential area, and the cities of Osaka and Kobe. Jazmine is also looking forward to indulging in traditional foods, seeing Japanese natural landscapes, visiting different cities, and expanding her network internationally.
Home Institution: Musashi University
Host Institution: Temple University
Reina is a third year student at Musashi University. Her interest is in LGBTQ communities. In Japan, a lot of people are still struggling with accepting sexual minorities, which leads to discriminations. She has made it her life mission to advocate for the LGBTQ community on issues regarding same-sex marriage, equal rights, and eliminate discrimination based on sexual identity. In order to achieve this, abundant knowledge and critical thinking are required. Unfortunately her home university does not provide lectures which only focus on LGBTQ communities. On the other hand, Temple University has various lectures which enable students to think about LGBTQ-related issues. She is excited that her study abroad will provide her with various perspectives and information. The high-quality lectures at Temple are useful for her purpose. However, studying at Temple university is too expensive for her family to support. Receiving the Watanabe Scholarship supports her study abroad and would make a huge difference for her future. Without this, learning at Temple University and fulfilling her dream would be impossible.
Home Institution: Edmonds College
Host Institution: Temple University Japan
Kolby’s interest in studying abroad comes from his Junior year of high school, which was his fifth year studying Japanese. Kolby had always been interested in the language, but saw it more as a fun class to learn in. During that year an exchange student named K and her father visited his school (we’ll call her K). K opened his eyes to a world that he never knew, and sparked a desire to see it. K’s father was a professor at a Japanese university, and talked to him and his classmates about studying in Japan. It captivated Kolby more than any other university pitch, but he did not have the grades for it at the time. After a gap from school, and a successful two years at community college Kolby finally realized his dream of going to Japan to study. What he is looking forward to most is seeing that world that K told him about, and even more so, just living a different life than he has ever lived. Moving gives him the opportunity to use Japanese in a way he has never been able to, and opens a wealth of stories, jobs, and connections.
Home Institution: California State University Channel Islands
Host Institution: Waseda University
Paulina is a student at CSU Channel Islands majoring in Health Science and working on a certificate in Spanish Healthcare Translation. In the fall, she will be attending Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan. After completing her undergraduate degree, she hopes to attend graduate school to become a registered dietitian. Through her study abroad experience, Paulina hopes to further develop her intercultural understanding and Japanese language skills that will allow her to more effectively serve diverse communities. As a kid, she loved video games and anime. Her hobbies morphed into a passion for learning about Japanese culture. In college, she took her first Japanese language classes. She grew more interested in coming to Japan and learning about Japanese culture, language, and cuisine when she learned from her health science classes that some Japanese people have lived to be one hundred years old because of their diets. This sparked her desire to learn how diets and culture intersect and how cuisines and eating habits can impact someone’s quality of life, health, and even age. She is sincerely grateful to Mr. Toshizo (Tom) Watanabe and the U.S.-Japan Council for making her study abroad dreams a reality, especially as a first-generation college student.
Home Institution: Waseda University
Host Institution: University of California, Berkeley
Ayano is a sophomore majoring in School of International Liberal Studies at Waseda University who will be attending University of California, Berkeley. She is eager to study in the United States to pursue her interest in American history, culture, and media. She initially developed an interest in this field when she participated in “Stanford e-Japan”, a distance-learning course on cross-cultural perspectives, during high school. In this program, she discussed a wide range of topics such as historical events, educational problems, and gender issues related to the United States and Japan with Stanford professors, experts, and other students from diverse countries and cultural backgrounds. Furthermore, interned at Olympic Broadcasting Services and currently broadcasts news from The New York Times as a radio personality (“Voicy News Brief”). In the future, she strongly desires to convey the information to a larger audience, and contribute to the realization of a society that is tolerant of diversity. In order to realize her dream of becoming a news anchor, she will take classes from Media Studies and American Studies at UC Berkeley to strive for a new form of journalism and create broadcasting with people from diverse cultural backgrounds.
Home Institution: University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
Host Institution: Osaka Gakuin University
Akane is a biology student entering her third year at the University of Michigan. She is passionate about collaborative science; as a Japanese American researcher, she hopes to help bridge academia in Japan and the U.S. She has studied Japanese throughout college, and now aims for professional fluency through full immersion. With the support of the Toshizo Watanabe Study Abroad Scholarship, Akane will study abroad in Osaka, Japan in the spring of 2023. Concentrating on her language studies, Akane hopes to make the most of her time in Osaka by studying, working, and socializing entirely in Japanese. Academic proficiency in languages other than English is crucial to scientific exchange across cultural borders, and Akane is working to gain confidence in her professional Japanese. Outside of her studies, Akane is an avid hiker and already has a running list of mountains and shrines she would like to visit. She is also looking forward to joining university clubs (especially baking) and making friends in a new language. Living and learning in Japan is made possible by the Toshizo Watanabe Study Abroad Scholarship, and Akane would like to thank Mr. Watanabe and the U.S.-Japan Council for the opportunity.
Home Institution: Keio University
Host Institution: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Sena is a sophomore majoring in Political Science at Keio University who will be attending University of Wisconsin-Madison. Before enrolling in Keio University, he spent his life in Singapore, where various races coexist. This experience of spending his formative years in a cultural melting pot gave him a unique ideology and global perspective on the world without prejudice or discrimination. Forty thousand students from 34 countries gather at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, symbolizing their vision of diversity. Sena is looking forward to learning about law and politics in the U.S. Receiving the Watanabe Scholarship has supported him in both financial and mental aspects. Without the scholarship his study abroad would have been difficult but the scholarship provided a great amount of support. Furthermore, it gave him confidence and he is now aiming to voice his ideas more effectively and to a larger audience. He is planning to join the “Wisconsin Speech Debate” while studying abroad and he is looking to make the best out of living abroad without regrets.
Home Institution: Brandeis University
Leona is a sophomore at Brandeis University, pursuing a business major and minors in cultural anthropology and psychology. She is passionate about learning human behavior and communication, with a focus on how business can help customers make the right decisions for society and the environment. She is originally from New York and spent most of her lifetime in Tokyo, Japan. She believes the US has a unique environment where women, as well as other social groups of people, are active in society. She also believes studying in the U.S. will equip her with the interdisciplinary skills necessary to realize her educational and career goals and become a global citizen who thrives in different cultural contexts. She looks forward to her second year at Brandeis University to challenge herself, expand her understanding of society, and meet new people. To her, being part of the Watanabe Scholars community means connecting with global leaders with whom she will overcome hardships and grow intellectually and personally. With this support, she strives to maximize her opportunities during her time in the United States.
Namuka ISHII ^
Home Institution: University of Chicago
Namuka is an international student from Japan. He will use his knowledge from his undergraduate degree in Mathematics and a minor degree in Education to pursue a Master’s degree in Public Policy in graduate school. His field of study is educational finance policy. His goal is to use fiscal leverage to reduce the burden of student spending on higher education in Japan as much as possible. His graduate study is made possible by the generosity of the Watanabe Scholarship. His ultimate goal is to create support in Japan where people can go to study abroad without worrying about money. There are people for whom education is the only way to escape from unfavorable circumstances such as poverty. He wants to help those people by shaping the education policy.
Sakura ISHIZAKI **
Home Institution: Grinnell College
Sakura is a senior at Grinnell College double majoring in Biological Chemistry and Anthropology. Due to the generous scholarship award from the Watanabe Scholarship during her junior year, Sakura was able to immerse herself in her academic studies and independent research in medical anthropology, which focused on uncovering the medical decision-making process in Japanese ICUs during the pandemic. Through her independent research supported by both the Anthropology Department at Grinnell College and leading medical professionals at Tohoku University, she noticed her passion for both medicine and medical anthropology. With the research still in progress, she is grateful for being selected for her second time as a Watanabe Scholar, as she can once again allocate immense time to her research project. By allowing Sakura to explore her interests in medicine, medical anthropology, and other various fields, the Watanabe Scholarship has and will continue to allow her to discover her true passion, which will lead to the enrichment of her life.
Jonathan JACKSON ^
Home Institution: Kobe University
Although raised in rural Georgia, John found a strong interest in international relations early in life and expanded on that first during his studies at the University of North Georgia and later at Sogang University in Seoul. Now he is currently working on finalizing his academic journey at Kobe University. Receiving the Toshizo Watanabe Study Abroad Scholarship means the opportunity to maximize his potential in his academics without the financial struggles faced in the past. In addition, the honor of being a recipient of such a prestigious scholarship drives him to excel as a student representing this scholarship and what it stands for. With an academic concentration in East Asia, studying in Japan is the cornerstone of completing his academic work leading into a professional career. Japan serves as the forefront of democratic leadership in East Asia and one of the United State’s greatest partners. Finalizing his studies in Japan will allow him to learn more than what is achieved from books alone. It is with this firsthand experience of Japanese society and life that will prove valuable in his planned future of working in the US State Department serving to better America’s relations in the region.
Home Institution: Lane Community College
Kiwa is a student at Lane Community College. She is currently studying general studies to transfer to a university majoring in Musical Theater. She has loved musicals since she was little, and as the years went by, she became more interested in the history and the production process of musicals. She hopes to learn musical theater deeply in the United States, the birthplace of musicals, and where many new musicals still are produced. She also enjoys learning academics. Taking interesting classes at college satisfies her desire for learning. The environment in the U.S. where she can interact with people from various cultural backgrounds enriches her experience and stimulates her senses and thinking alike. She was born and raised in Okinawa, Japan. She only has financial support from her mother and is grateful for the support from the Watanabe Scholarship in helping her establish successful academics and her future career.
Home Institution: Nihon University
Host Institution: University of West Alabama
Kanon was born in Osaka, raised in Tokyo near Tokyo Disney Resort. She is currently a junior studying film, mainly screenwriting at Nihon University College of Art. She will be studying abroad for one year at the University of West Alabama starting Fall 2022. In middle school, she fell in love with Harry Potter. Since then, she started to write her own stories and her long-term goal has been to become a storyteller. Also, she has always wanted to be in an environment where English is spoken every day because her other dream is to be able to write scripts in English. She hopes that taking classes of creative writing and/or having a lot of conversations with friends would allow her to gain ideas for the English scripts she will write. The Watanabe Scholarship has given her the opportunity to fulfill both of her dreams. She is truly grateful and through this experience, she hopes to be a creator who has a wide perspective to bridge Japan and the United States.
Home Institution: Keio University
Host Institution: Dartmouth College
Mone is a junior at Keio University majoring in Political Science and will be attending Dartmouth College. She has never studied abroad before, but has always been interested in global social issues, and enthusiastically tried to make contributions. As a member of the executive committee of the Japan-America Student Conference, she has led the Social Justice roundtable in discussions with U.S. and Japanese students on politics, philosophy, and social activism. Her academic interests lie in the area of international politics such as global governance, and sociology. She is very much looking forward to learning these topics and interacting with students at Dartmouth, through intensive class discussions. The scholarship was essential in helping her study abroad, and being a Watanabe Scholar is a great honor for her. Since she is willing to get out of her comfort zone to learn, she hopes to make the most of this wonderful opportunity to gain different perspectives through cross-cultural interactions.
Home Institution: University of North Carolina Wilmington
Miho is a senior student majoring in Film Studies at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She is passionate about using media technologies as a tool to raise awareness of global issues and deepen people’s understanding of what is happening in the world. Amongst the global pandemic, the opportunities as a 2020-22 Watanabe scholar and serving as an online video editing volunteer at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Tokyo office taught her the importance of passing on people’s histories, memories, and stories to future generations to make the world a better place. Thanks to the Watanabe Scholarship, she will be able to complete the university program without financial anxiety. As a second-time recipient of the Watanabe scholarship, she genuinely looks forward to connecting and collaborating with people from vastly diverse sociocultural and disciplinary backgrounds in person. During this time abroad, she intends to engage with many people to deepen her understanding of international relations and obtain different perspectives regarding global issues. For her, this scholarship is not only financial support but it is also a source of inspiration. She truly appreciates the U.S.-Japan Council’s continued generous, strong, and considerate support for her journey.
Home Institution: DePaul University
Host Institution: Kansai Gaidai University
Brad is majoring in International Studies and Japanese Studies at DePaul University. His areas of focus are post-colonial political economy and East Asian geopolitics. He enjoys learning languages, listening to international music, and trying new foods. He hopes to gain a better understanding of global culture and politics by traveling and making friends with people from around the world. Brad has had an interest in Japan since childhood and has taken many Japanese language and history classes throughout college. He is on the Executive Board for DePaul University’s Japanese Culture Club as the Language Coordinator. Through this leadership role, Brad has been able to share his interest in Japan and the Japanese Language with other club members by hosting weekly Language Exchange meetings. Brad looks forward to gaining a better understanding of Japanese culture and society and improving his Japanese language skills through a homestay program, participating in school club activities, and making friends with local Japanese students during his time abroad.
Home Institution: University of California, Los Angeles
Sae is a junior majoring in Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). When she was in 12th grade, she had a chance to attend the “We for She” conference and learned about the current societal gender inequalities. Encountering oppressions and prejudices first-hand through the events, she became interested in social issues and their solutions. During her study abroad, she is thinking of starting a non-profit organization to share worldwide social issues and spread awareness on how those issues should be addressed to fill in the gaps between Japan and the U.S of understanding towards minorities. The Watanabe Scholarship means a lot to her. The University of California Los Angeles is one of the most diversified schools in the world and has the strongest networking opportunities for a variety of jobs. She is excited to experience interacting with people from all over the world to see beyond race while gaining an international perspective.
Home Institution: Smith College
Yurika is an undergraduate student at Smith College. Since her childhood, she has been curious about the world outside her comfort zone. Thus, although she was born and raised in Japan, she has eagerly deepened her understanding of different cultures and values. While studying English, she encountered the concept of “critical thinking:” She learned the importance of questioning the status quo instead of irresponsibly criticizing or blindly approving it. Since then, she has examined various social issues with this mindset. Shortly after, she noticed that the implementation of ethics in data science to deter the misuse of individuals’ data is understudied, despite the rapid advancement in the field. Accordingly, Yurika now aspires to be a liaison between computer scientists and ethicists and contribute to the ethical application of Big Data. Towards her goal, she decided to major in computer science and philosophy at a liberal arts college, where she’s allowed to study them with equal emphasis. In 2021, she enrolled at Smith College and began a new chapter of her life in the United States, a hub of both the computer science industry and liberal arts education. Thanks to the Watanabe Scholarship’s support, she is about to start her second year of study.
Home Institution: Bates College
Ayano is a fourth year student at Bates College in Maine. She is seeking a B.A. in Sociology and Chinese. She will be receiving the Watanabe Scholarship for the third time this academic year. Ever since she was seven years old, she has moved between Japan and the U.S. several times, and became incredibly close to both nations. Her current goal is to serve as a bridge between the U.S. and Japan, and to develop a stronger bilateral partnership. Over the past three years, she was able to get closer to her dream thanks to help from the Watanabe Scholarship and the USJC community. She attended the 2019 USJC Annual Conference in Los Angeles, which gave her a fresh perspective and inspired her to take part in three internships in Washington, D.C., which were focused on the U.S.-Japan relationship. In her final year at Bates College, she intends to research U.S.-Japan diplomacy for her senior thesis, and to make the most out of her experience in the United States.
Home Institution: Osaka University
Host Institution: Georgia State University
Hitomi is a junior at the School of Human Sciences of Osaka University and will study at Georgia State University for one academic year as an exchange student. She has been strongly interested in social problems related to children since she was in elementary school. Currently, her interests are in studying the positive impact of hospice care for children, and questioning the status quo of the organ transplant system in Japan, which forces children to travel outside the country. Hitomi realized that research in Japan would not be enough to address her interests. Therefore, she decided to study in the United States, where organ transplantation and children’s hospice are more advanced. She hopes to explore the flaws of Japan’s organ transplant system and children’s hospice through active discussion in classes and participation in volunteer activities. Furthermore, she believes this will lead her to find out ways she can help resolve the social problems of children in the future. The Watanabe Scholarship not only financially supports her goals but also provides her with the opportunity to meet fellow students with clear aims. Hitomi is convinced that encounters with peers will inspire and motivate her to study abroad more.
Home Institution: Temple University
Host Institution: Temple University Japan Campus
As a first generation Japanese American, receiving this scholarship means the world to Tamane. Tamane was born in Japan and immigrated to the United States when she was a child, but she still chose to pursue a field related to her mother country. With the support of the Toshizo Watanabe Study Abroad Scholarship, she will be able to concentrate on informing herself and experiencing the nuances of Japanese contemporary art and Japanese art history firsthand, in order to decolonize the world of art history, which often only focuses on the Western diaspora within the framework and subject matter of the field. She missed the people, the food, and the culture of Japan and she is grateful that this scholarship has given her the chance to experience it again.
Home Institution: Siena College
Host Institution: Kansai Gaidai University
Gabby is a senior Physics major with minors in Astrophysics, Mathematics, and Data Science at Siena College in Loudonville, NY. She will be attending classes at Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka, Japan to fully embrace Japanese culture and customs. She believes that it is important to learn how to deal with culture shock because a career in physics research can lead to international partnerships. Given that this will be her first time abroad, it will be a great chance to learn how to adapt to cultural differences while serving as a cultural ambassador. Japanese entertainment, cuisine, and technology have always sparked interest in Gabby, so she is excited to meet locals and to get an authentic Japanese cultural experience. Being awarded the Toshizo Watanabe Study Abroad Scholarship has relieved a great financial burden and has allowed Gabby to pursue this amazing opportunity to a place she has only dreamed of visiting.
Home Institution: International Christian University
For six years, Aeris tried to study abroad in Japan many times. After years of language study, internships, attending Japanese student exchanges, and various cultural events in America, they have finally made the trip halfway across the world to pursue their undergraduate studies at International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan. As a first-year, they’re looking forward to learning more about Japanese culture and making friends all while striving to achieve fluency in their Japanese language abilities. One thing their university offers is a well-rounded bilingual education, which Aeris believes is vital for a successful future career in Translation and Interpretation. Driven by their love for Japanese alternative fashion and music, they’ve passionately studied Japanese through many different resources due to the lack of a program in their own school, and they can now further their language studies to help them achieve their dreams. Living in Japan has finally become a reality for Aeris after six years of hard work, and they are extremely grateful for the opportunity. Thanks to the Toshizo Watanabe Study Abroad Scholarship, they are able to give their superwoman of a mom the peace of mind she needs while she continues to work and care for family back home.
Hideki TOMITA ^
Home Institution: Stanford University
Experiencing America for a week during his college graduation trip made Hideki realize the world was filled with unknowns leading him to seek knowledge. Strongly influenced by the marketing-based advertising practice in the United States, he was convinced that advertising is “an art based on science.” He learned that it is an intelligent business activity backed by science and should not be practiced by solely relying on intuition or the virtuosity of an individual. During his upcoming time abroad in the United States, Hideki looks forward to being exposed to broader aspects of global marketing. Particularly, his long-term goal is to contribute to and grow his marketing skills as he launches a career in international development finance. Receiving the Watanabe Scholarship will allow Hideki to engage in community service and explore his potential in assisting the needs of people of the U.S.-Japan community as well as the opportunity to network with the USJC members.
Home Institution: California State University Channel Islands
Host Institution: Waseda University
Born and raised in a Vietnamese household in Oxnard, California, Kobby has always had a massive interest in Asian culture and Buddhist traditions. It was in middle school where his interest in Japanese culture sparked through various forms of media. As a result, he decided to double major in Asian American Studies and Japanese Language at California State University Northridge. Kobby’s desire to learn more about Japanese culture ignited when he was given the opportunity to study abroad at the prestigious Waseda University, but he was reluctant because of funding. Being awarded the Toshizo Watanabe Study Abroad Scholarship means that he will have the opportunity to explore the country and everything it has to offer him, whether it is an opportunity to meet new people or lifelong lessons that he will look back on. Kobby is most looking forward to learning firsthand the rich history and culture of such a beautiful country and finding interconnections to his own life. Along with Kobby’s experience to learn more about Japanese culture, he is very intrigued to learn more about Buddhism and Shintoism through another perspective.
Home Institution: Minerva University
Ryoga is a senior at Minerva University. He entered Minerva University after living in Kyoto his entire life, where he was born and raised. As a business major with an interest in behavioral science, he wants to explore ways to support Japanese youth who are pursuing non-traditional career paths. After experiencing some challenges pursuing studying at a foreign university right after graduating from a traditional high school, he developed an interest in supporting those who make unique career decisions, in the context of Japan’s collectivist society standards. He decided to enter Minerva University because of its active-learning education, focused on global learning and practical application. He is excited about learning about entrepreneurial opportunities while he attends Minerva in San Francisco. Both inside and outside the university, he aspires to build a network with aspiring change-makers, who have been overcoming hardships to innovate society around the globe. Though studying in the U.S. has been economically challenging , Watanabe Scholarship made it possible for Ryoga to continue his study at Minerva and pursue his vision.
Takuto YOSHIDA ^
Home Institution: Harvard University
Takuto wants to promote the treatment of obesity, especially bariatric surgery, in Japan. Obesity is now considered a global concern, and in Japan, 20-30% of the population is considered overweight with a BMI >25 due to the westernization of the Japanese diet. Furthermore, obesity was originally thought to be a disease of the wealthy, but low-income people are more likely to suffer from obesity due to a diet low in nutritional value, making it one of the social determinants of health. Obesity is not only associated with various health problems, but is also closely related to prejudice, discrimination, and mental health issues, making it an urgent social issue. His long-term goal is to improve the overall quality of life of patients suffering from obesity and related diseases through clinical research and to improve patient outcomes by contributing to the advancement of surgical interventions for those patients. The United States is a leader in the treatment of obesity, and he decided to study in the U.S. in order to promote bariatric surgery based on a public health approach and evidence.