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Ayusa to Operate Tomodachi Softbank Leadership Program
San Francisco, CA – February 28, 2012 –Ayusa International, a San Francisco non-profit that promotes global learning and leadership through cultural exchange, study abroad and leadership programs for high school students, today announced it will administer and operate the Tomodachi Softbank Leadership Program. This three-week program provides full scholarships for 300 high school students from the earthquake and tsunami affected areas of Tohoku, in eastern Japan.
The program is being developed in partnership with the UC Berkeley Center for Cities and Schools and will take place on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley, from July 23 to August 10, 2012. The program will be funded by Softbank Corp., a large telecommunications company in Japan run by Chairman & CEO Masayoshi Son, a 1980 graduate of UC Berkeley who majored in economics.
“We are proud to be involved with the Tomodachi initiative, Softbank Corp., and UC Berkeley in welcoming young people from the earthquake and tsunami affected areas of Tohoku, Japan, to the U.S.,” said Takeshi Yokota, founder of Ayusa. “At Ayusa we believe there is nothing more important than providing young people with global educational experiences, such as the leadership and community service training that these Japanese students will receive as part of this Tomodachi program.”
Nearly one year ago, on March 11, 2011, the eastern coast of Japan, known as the Tohoku region, was hit by a devastating 8.9 magnitude offshore earthquake and subsequent 23-foot tsunami, killing thousands and causing widespread destruction.
In response to this disaster, the Tomodachi initiative was created as a public-private partnership led by the U.S. Embassy in Japan and the U.S.-Japan Council (a non-profit), supported by the Japanese government. Tomodachi, which means “friendship” in Japanese, supports Japan’s recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake, and invests in the next generation of Japanese students, to strengthen cultural and economic ties and deepen the friendship between the U.S. and Japan. The initiative conducts a variety of programs that focus on student exchanges, virtual exchanges, leadership development and fostering entrepreneurship.
The program was officially announced in Japan on Friday, February 3rd at an event hosted by the U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos, at his residence. The event also announced several other Tomodachi educational exchange programs. Special guests included Japanese academic and diplomat Sadako Ogata, Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado, Softbank Corp Chairman & CEO Masayoshi Son, U.S. Japan Council President Irene Hirano Inouye, and Ayusa Founder Takeshi Yokota.
“Ayusa’s involvement in the Tomodachi program is significant, as we will be welcoming the largest number of students in a single program,” said Sherry Carpenter, executive director of Ayusa. “The Tomodachi program will be a life-changing experience for the Japanese students, providing them with the tools and knowledge to return to their communities as community service leaders.”
Ayusa is responsible for all operational aspects of the program, including recruiting the students through its office in Japan and administering the program in the U.S., including pre-arrival orientation, curriculum development, local activities, and recruiting local American host families.
The three-week curriculum at UC Berkeley will involve discussions on global leadership and community service, and students will develop individual community service action projects to implement in their home communities. On the weekends, the students will learn more about American culture through home stays with American families, networking with local students, participating in volunteer activities, and enjoying local and cultural sites in San Francisco.
Bay Area families interested in hosting one of the Japanese students for a weekend homestay (August 3-5, 2012) can apply by contacting David Beiser, director of grant programs at Ayusa, at email@example.com, or by calling Ayusa at 1-888-552-9872.
The Ayusa office in Japan is currently recruiting students from the Tohoku region through local presentations and a recruitment website. The application deadline will be Monday, April 16, 2012. Participants will be selected based on their application and answers to essay questions. The participants will be selected by Friday, May 11, 2012.
“There is a feeling of excitement and hope for the future in the Tohoku prefectures where we have spoken about the Tomodachi program,” said Makiko Boyden, managing director, Ayusa Japan. “I am very impressed with the local students. And, it is clear the benefits of this program will reach far beyond the students, to impact and assist entire communities.”
Ayusa International (www.ayusa.org) is a non-profit organization founded in 1981 to promote global learning and leadership through cultural exchange, study abroad and leadership programs for high school students from the U.S. and around the world. In addition, Ayusa administers multiple high profile grant programs funded by the U.S. Department of State and other organizations.