Participants of the TOMODACHI High School Women Career Mentoring Program in Fukushima 2017 Present Their Learnings from the Half-Year Program to Their Younger Peers and Embark on New Journeys
The last session, known as STEP 4, of the TOMODACHI High School Women Career Mentoring Program in Fukushima supported by the TOMODACHI Combini Fund 2017 took place in Iwaki city, Fukushima prefecture, from February 3 to 4, 2018. The program is supported by the TOMODACHI Combini Fund.
On the first day, the participants gathered into teams to share their learnings from STEPs 1 through 3 of the program. Each team drafted and reflected on the messages to present to the female freshman high school students the next day. The participants not only wrote messages on their learnings, but also on their future goals. During the preparations and rehearsals, the participants provided feedback on each other’s presentations, and learned how to communicate effectively by pointing out areas that went well and areas that could be improved upon.
On the second day, the KIKKAKE LIVE (“An Opportunity to Making Oneself and to Making a Future: LIVE”) took place at Higashi Nippon International University’s Kamata Campus. For this event, the participants in the second year of high school held an orientation session. By sending the event information via SNS, 129 female freshman students attended, which was a record breaking number since the program was launched four years ago.
The highlight of the event was the sophomore participants’ presentations to the freshman students on their learnings from the half-year program and on their next steps. Prior to this presentation, the mentors (university students) held a brief recap of the half-year program and shared their “challenge stories” from their high school days. Exchange students from the United States, India, Taiwan and Grenada, and female employees from All-Nippon Airways Co., Ltd., Kikkoman Corporation, and the U.S.-Japan Council also presented their stories to both the freshman and sophomore students.
The messages from sophomore students included: “Don’t be afraid of trying and creating your own story;” “You only live once. Embrace and cherish your own feelings and do what you want to do;” “Be grateful for all your encounters with peers;” “To overcome is a plus, to give up is a minus. It is all up to your own choices.”
Finally, the freshman students shared messages that they learned from the sophomore students’ presentations. The messages included: “Trust in yourself. Just do it;” “Break out of your shell;” “Be honest with your own feelings;” “Do not follow the crowd. Have a mind of your own. Do what you want!” Having seen these messages resonate with the freshman, the sophomore students were filled with feelings of accomplishment.
After participating in the half-year program, the sophomore year participants shared such sentiments as:
“Since completing this program, I feel confident about myself and feel hopeful about my future.”
“I was able to make friends who I can talk to about anything. I never thought I would have such friends.”
“During this past half-year, I experienced strong feelings, from nervousness about meeting new people to laughing from bottom of my heart and shedding tears from emotional conflicts. If I could meet with myself half a year ago, I would tell her to ‘Look at my face right now and how happy I look. There are no worries. One action can change so this much. So take your time, there’s no need for you to hurry, but one step at a time can surely bring you here.’”
“This is the start. Our efforts start again from today.”
“These past six months, I met with countless people and had valuable experiences and irreplaceable encounters. I cannot count how many times I cried and laughed hard. ‘Just be who you are,’ ‘you are strong,’ ‘trust in yourself’ – these are just a few words from the program that I cherish. I will treasure all of my encounters over the past half a year.”
The journey of the 125 participants has just begun, but what they learned from the program, its takeaways, and encounters will always be part of them.
This program is funded by the TOMODACHI Combini Fund, which is supported by FamilyMart Co., Ltd. and Lawson, Inc..