“When I participated in my TOMODACHI program, everything was online and I was unable to meet any of the participants and staff members in person,” TOMODACHI J&J Disaster Nursing Program alumna Ayano Sakurai shared. “Since I am interested in studying abroad in the future, participating in this Summit was really inspirational and informative for me. I was able to broaden my perspective even more.”
The Next Generation Summit 2023, held on July 1 at Amway Japan, brought together a dynamic and diverse group of participants for a day of engaging panel discussions, reconnecting with fellow alumni, skills-building breakout sessions and a special evening reception. The event provided a platform for TOMODACHI alumni and Watanabe Scholars to connect, learn together and bolster inspiration while addressing pressing issues of our time.
The day commenced with opening and welcome remarks by guest speakers from the U.S.-Japan Council (Japan), Prudential Holdings of Japan and the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. Following the opening plenary, the event transitioned into dynamic panel discussions featuring TOMODACHI alumni who were keen to share their personal experiences and the lessons they learned by exploring topics ranging from studying abroad to female empowerment. The discussions sparked thought-provoking conversations and provided a platform to learn from each other.
Skill-building breakout sessions were conducted during the latter half of the Summit, offering practical knowledge and tools for participants’ professional and personal growth. Topics included leadership reflection led by Yoichi Suzuki (Wake Up Japan), financial literacy led by Kyohei Shimizu (Prudential Holdings of Japan), a roundtable discussion with U.S.-Japan Council (Japan) board members Miyuki Tani (Morgan Stanley Capital K.K.) and Norie Iwamoto (Pricewater Coopers Arata LLC) and Japanese American Storytelling led by Anna Nagamine and Yuhka Mera. Rie Kurita, an alumna of TOMODACHI HLAB Tohoku, took part in the financial literacy breakout session and commented, “I learned a lot of things that I did not learn in college. It made me realize that I have to think about my financial plans based on my future plans.”
As the day came to a close, the attendees reassembled for an evening reception that provided an informal setting for networking and celebrated Prudential’s ten years of support. The reception began with remarks from prominent speakers including USJC President and CEO Suzanne Basalla and Assistant Minister (Ambassador) MUTO Akira from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan. Jonathan Graybill, President & COO of Prudential Holdings of Japan and SVP of Prudential International Insurance, emphasized the impactful partnership between Japan and the United States through the TOMODACHi Initiative: “Prudential’s support of the TOMODACHI Initiative is a great example of the power of private public partnerships in changing the lives of so many deserving individuals. However, the impact goes way beyond the 10,000 program participants by further strengthening the ties between Japan and the United States.”
Alumni speaker Miku Hayashida delivered her core message, encouraging alumni to first “cultivate inclusion within yourself.” Yuuki Sato shared how his encounter with adult allies during his program not only shaped his life and career path but also inspired him to support the next generation.
The Next Generation Summit 2023 is part of the TOMODACHI Alumni Leadership Program and was made possible with the generous support of Prudential. Together, we celebrate ten years of this partnership in developing the TOMODACHI alumni community and supporting the next generation of leaders.
Click here to see more photos from the event.