Japanese Students Join Tomodachi Softbank Leadership Program

February 20, 2014
Press Releases

San Francisco, CA – February 20, 2014 – Ayusa International, a San Francisco non-profit that promotes global learning and leadership through cultural exchange and leadership programs for high school students, today announced it will once again administer and operate the Tomodachi Softbank Leadership Program. This three-week program, now in its second year, provides full scholarships for high school students from the earthquake and tsunami-affected areas of Tohoku, Japan (including Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima), to visit the U.S., learn leadership skills, and develop individual community service projects that they can implement when they return to Japan. One hundred Japanese students will be selected to participate in the 2014 program.

The program, which was developed in partnership with the UC Berkeley Center for Cities and Schools, will take place on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley, from July 22 to August 11, 2014. The program will be fully funded by Softbank Corp., a large telecommunications company in Japan founded and run by Chairman & CEO Masayoshi Son, a 1980 graduate of UC Berkeley who majored in economics.

“We are honored to once again 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. “Ayusa’s mission has always been to empower the youth of the world through global educational experiences. We believe the leadership and community service training the students receive as part of this Tomodachi program will help them to become powerful social advocates in their home communities.”

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 in 2011 as a public-private partnership led by the U.S. Embassy in Japan and the U.S.-Japan Council (a non-profit), and aided 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 2014 Tomodachi Softbank Leadership Program was announced in Japan on February 19, 2014 by the U.S. Embassy in Japan and by Softbank.

“Ayusa is pleased to administer the Tomodachi program for a second year,” said Sherry Carpenter, executive director of Ayusa. “Last year’s program proved to be a positive, life-changing experience for the young Japanese students who participated. We look forward to once again facilitating an inspiring, service-driven experience that will nurture and develop the natural leader that lives inside each of these amazing, motivated students.”


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 curriculum development, recruiting local American host families, orientation, and local activities.

The three-week curriculum at UC Berkeley will involve discussions on global leadership and community service, with each student developing an individual community service action project to implement in his or her home community. On the weekends, the students will learn more about American culture through home stays with American families, networking with local American students, participating in volunteer activities, and enjoying educational and cultural sites in San Francisco.

“The Japanese students who participated in last year’s program listed the Bay Area homestay weekend as one of the highlights of their time in the U.S.,” said David Beiser, director of grants programs for Ayusa. “Interested Bay Area families who would like to host one of the Tomodachi students for a weekend homestay should apply early!”

Bay Area families interested in hosting one of the Japanese students for the weekend homestay (August 2-4, 2014) can apply by contacting David Beiser at dbeiser@ayusa.org, or by calling Ayusa at 1-888-552-9872.

The Ayusa office in Japan is currently recruiting students from the Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures through local presentations and a recruitment website. The application deadline will be Tuesday, April 15, 2014.  Participants will be selected by Saturday, May 17, 2014, based on their application and answers to essay questions.

“Local presentations about the Tomodachi program have been very positively received in the various Tohoku prefectures, with both parents and students expressing excitement,” said Makiko Boyden, managing director, Ayusa Japan. “We feel confident that this year’s student applicants will be as impressive as the young people who participated in last year’s program.”

About Ayusa

Ayusa International (www.ayusa.org) is a non-profit organization founded in 1981 to promote global learning and leadership through cultural exchange 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.

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