2019 TOMODACHI Sumitomo Corporation Scholarship Program Scholars Share Year of Learning from Study Abroad Experiences in the United States Online
On June 26, 2020, the 2019 scholars’ post-program report for the TOMODACHI Sumitomo Corporation Scholarship Program took place online due to the ongoing spread of COVID-19. Around 70 people, including scholars and partners, were brought together virtually.
To start the event, Mr. Hideki Yamano, Representative Director, Senior Managing Executive Officer, Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Information Officer, Sumitomo Corporation, sent words of encouragement to the scholars who finished their study abroad.
The nine recipients of the 2019 scholarship were divided into two groups to give presentations on lessons learned during their study abroad experiences. During the presentation, Nao Fujita, who studied at the University of California, Berkeley, said it was an eye-opening experience for her to see classes in the United States, where students shared their questions and opinions and were open to each other’s remarks, because in Japan, people often read between lines and are more careful. She said, “We discuss because we can find a solution that cannot be found by one person alone. Thus, it’s essential for a leader to create an environment where everyone can say what they want to say. In these uncertain times, exercising leadership is more crucial than ever before. I believe appreciating and embracing different values is the first step to improving our leadership skills.”
Yusuke Kido, who studied haptics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, shared his study-abroad experience: “I took a class for graduate students and it was difficult. Working on the final project, I told my professor that I couldn’t find a way to make my idea a reality. He said ‘when you get stuck, know you are at the starting line.’ He never accepted my excuses about my lack of skills and made me push forward. With my friends’ help, I completed the final project, which he enjoyed. Through this class, I gained more confidence to face difficulties. Now, I am at the next starting line. In order to continue my journey to become a global researcher, I would like to take my next step, which is to study abroad again as soon as possible.”
Following each group’s presentation, Mr. Michael Turner, Culture and Sports Attaché, U.S. Embassy Tokyo, and Ms. Jewelle K. Yamada, Vice President & General Manager, Communication & Diversity Promotion Group, Sumitomo Corporation of Americas, offered feedback on the presentations.
On the following day, an event was held by the program alumni. 31 alumni, including the 2019 scholars, gathered online. During the first half of the event, participants divided into several groups to discuss current issues and what everyone can do as next-generation leaders during this time of COVID-19. One of the groups discussed the stresses that healthcare professionals may face, and the group members suggested expressing gratitude toward them not only now, but also moving forward, among other practical solutions. During the last part of the event, participants had a roundtable discussion about career paths, on topics like getting jobs and pursuing higher education.