Inaugural TOMODACHI Alumni Gathering in Tokyo
On July 17, 2016 the inaugural TOMODACHI Alumni Gathering took place in Tokyo, in which alumni attended to harness the power of the TOMODACHI Generation community and enhance networks. This event was made possible by Kazuki Kokubun, TOMODACHI Coca-Cola Homestay Exchange program alumnus, who faced challenges as a Fukushima-native attending university his freshman year in the organized chaos of Tokyo. He took initiative to reach out to the tight-knit TOMODACHI community, in hopes to create a reliable platform and backbone for TOMODACHI Alumni in the Kanto Region. “This was my first time event-planning and the overall success of this gathering has really boosted my confidence. I hope to do something similar again in the near future,” says Kazuki.
The event participants were a diverse group of alumni, representing seven programs and ranging from high school seniors to seniors at university. In order to create an interactive and inclusive atmosphere, the event was structured around group discussions. United under the theme of being a part of the TOMODACHI Generation, the participants were broken up into two groups to discuss their initial encounter with the TOMODACHI Initiative and personal experiences on their respective programs. The diversity in their individual TOMODACHI journeys shone as they shared various experiences, which in turn reminded them that the strength and unity of the TOMODACHI Generation is rooted in the uniqueness of each alumnus.
The participants also held discussions about life at university, in hopes for the older students to realize their role as leaders and supporters for the freshman. Each participant also shared their goals and dreams, as they look ahead to the progress and future of the TOMODACHI alumni community. One participant shares her thoughts. “I’ve made some great friends here today and I get the feeling that TOMODACHI is a safe-zone to discuss certain hot topics that I wouldn’t be able to in school.” By spending the whole day together and sharing cherishing program experiences, the alumni who attended now feel a sense of relief and belonging with the strengthened personal connections and solidified TOMODACHI alumni community in the Kanto region.
The TOMODACHI Alumni Leadership Program is made possible with the generous support of The Prudential Foundation.