TOMODACHI RISE Awards Ceremony Commemorates 2021 Regional Leaders and Regional Mentors’ Commitment to Community and Beyond
On March 27, 2022, the TOMODACHI Regional Impact for Social Empowerment (RISE) Leadership Program 2021 Awards Ceremony was held online. Awards were presented to six alumni who have served as Regional Leaders in Hokkaido, Tohoku, Chubu-Hokuriku, Kansai-Chugoku-Shikoku, Kyushu, and Okinawa. The ceremony was attended by past Regional Leaders and Mentors, and representatives from the U.S. Embassy and Consulates. It was emceed by Rika Yonamine, 2020 Regional Leader of the Okinawa Region. Each Regional Leader identified a different challenge to revitalize the region and contribute to the community by working together with Regional Mentors and involving alumni in each region.
At the opening ceremony, Shannon Dorsey, Cultural and Educational Attaché from the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, and Yoshiaki Hirayama, Senior Officer at Prudential Holding of Japan made opening remarks.
The program brought together a variety of themes that differ from one region to another, such as tourism, u-turn employment, and sex education. During the ceremony, Regional Leaders gave speeches about their accomplishments and the experiences they gained from the program.
Hiromi Waragai, Regional Leader of the Hokkaido Region, is studying forestry science at university. She shared how she came up with the theme of co-supporting tourism and nature in Hokkaido and realized that this issue can be solved by learning from each other; not only in Hokkaido but also among regions. Nanako Saito, Regional Mentor, mentioned that one of her most memorable experiences was when Hiromi visited her high school and shared her experiences in the TOMODACHI program with over 300 of her high school students.
Yasuko Terashita from the U.S. Consulate in Sapporo, who supported the Hokkaido and Tohoku Regions, expressed her hope for the future success of the alumni leaders and commented that she was especially pleased to see their growth.
Personal growth was felt by many participants throughout the program. Saaya Toyoda, Regional Leader of the Tohoku Region, worked with the theme of revitalizing the local shopping district. She said she gained confidence through activities such as interviewing the people who manage the shopping district in her hometown, Iwate. She also commented that the program helped her deepen her connection with the community.
Yumiko Kurii, Regional Mentor of the Kansai-Chugoku-Shikoku Region, said she looks forward to the continued success of Regional Leader Maho Kitano. It was a moment of realizing the connection between leaders, mentors, and alumni.
Representatives from the U.S. Embassies and Consulates in all six regions of Japan (Sapporo, Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka-Kobe, Fukuoka, and Okinawa) participated in the ceremony, offering their congratulations and words of encouragement to the Regional Leaders and Mentors on their year-long contributions.
Starting in 2022, the new TOMODACHI Alumni Regional Framework will be expanding to the United States for the first time and will be represented by12 new Regional Representatives from the six regions in Japan and four new regions in the United States.
The event was held as a part of the TOMODACHI Generation Alumni Leadership Program supported by Prudential.