TOMODACHI Dallas-Sendai Young Ambassadors Program－Six Students from Texas Visit Sendai
Six high school students from the Dallas, Texas area were selected for the 2018 TOMODACHI Dallas-Sendai Young Ambassadors Program which is part of the TOMODACHI NAJAS Grassroots Exchange Programs. The program took place in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture and the surrounding area from July 2 to 10, 2018. The students were accompanied by a chaperone from the Japan-America Society of Dallas/Fort Worth(JASDFW). Coordination in Sendai was provided by SenTIA (Sendai Tourism, Convention and International Association). The purpose of the program was to further friendship between the people of Dallas and Sendai while cultivating young leaders to become future stewards of the U.S.-Japan relationship.
During the program, the students were introduced to Japanese culture and the history of Sendai, while experiencing team-building, leadership development, and cultural exchange. Each student stayed with a local host family, experiencing Japanese daily life and building lifelong friendships. The students also met Young Ambassador alumni and visited many places including Miyagi Daiichi High School, Tohoku University, Sendai City Hall and ruins left by the Great East Japan Earthquake.
Throughout the trip, the students learned not only the importance of experiencing another culture through interaction with local people, but also how similar Japanese and Americans are despite the geographic distance. After the cultural exchange experience, one participant, Jadyn Rowlett, commented, “this program has made me realize that the world isn’t as big as it looks. Even though I’m far from home I feel like I have another home in Japan. I’m glad I had the opportunity to come to Japan and will cherish this past week.”
Reflecting on the trip, Isaiah Larios , one of the participants commented “this program has truly made a positive impact on my life. Prior to this program my worldview was very narrow, and I found it hard to imagine that people from cultures other than my own shared many of the same values and would be willing to share their culture with me. In Japan, I experienced Japanese family life and was at the forefront of a lesson which textbooks cannot teach. Many of the values such as the importance of familial relationships and community involvement are shared among Japanese and Americans.”
This transformative program was made possible by a grant from the TOMODACHI Fund for Exchanges supported by Toyota Motor Corporation, Mitsubishi Corporation, and Hitachi.