BEYOND Tomorrow – U.S. Spring Program 2012

The three high school student participants were victims of the earthquake and tsunami, suffering great losses such as family members. Despite these traumatic experiences, however, they are determined to stay optimistic and share their experiences with the world. Their itinerary included giving a speech at a concert with the Longwood Symphony Orchestra and visiting Harvard University, Brown University, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Through these events the students interacted with many others, expanding their global horizons. They also spoke about their own experiences and had the opportunity to reflect on their aspirations for their future roles in society.


  1. To have Tohoku students act as ambassadors of Tohoku by sharing their stories of the Great East Japan earthquake with American people
  2. To promote U.S.-Japan exchange in the context of the Great East Japan earthquake/tsunami.
  3. To provide Tohoku students with opportunities to experience the American culture as part of BEYOND Tomorrow’s global leadership education.

Time and Locations

March 15 – 21, 2012 Boston, Massachusetts; and Providence, Rohde Island


 Masahide Chiba Masahide was in Ofunato when the disaster struck. As a result of the tsunami, he lost his mother, grandmother and home, and is now living in rented accommodation with his father and two younger brothers. Masahide believes that it is his mission to plan towns that are safe from natural disasters and contribute to the future recovery because he survived the devastating disaster when so many lives were lost. Masahide would like to set up a company that carries out projects related with the disaster recovery, and would like to participate in the planning of towns along the Sanriku Coast which are resilient to damage from natural disasters.
 Ayaka Ogawa Ayaka lost her parents, her grandparents and her older sister to the tsunami, and now lives in temporary housing with extended family members. As only she was saved and the rest of her family lost, Ayaka would like to try to live life to the fullest and has resolved to fulfill her long-standing interest in studying abroad. Following the disaster, Ayaka also had chance to experience a short-term home stay in Australia. Ayaka feels a great deal of gratitude for the opportunities she has been afforded since the disaster, and so in the future she would like to become someone who also helps others to achieve their hopes.
 Sayaka Sugawara Sayaka experienced the disaster in Ishinomaki, and lost her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother to the tsunami. Currently she is living in temporary housing in Ishinomaki with her grandfather. Six months after the disaster she participated in the Summer Davos Forum held in China, and communicated her experiences to global leaders. In future, Sayaka would like to work for a cause helping children who have had similar traumatic experiences to her own, as well as doing international volunteering to help repay the countries that supported Japan after the disaster. She will start her new life in an international boarding high school in Switzerland this spring.


Orientation Day 1 Speech preparation Dinner with BEYOND Tomorrow founders
Orientation Day 2 American culture and history English conversation Speech preparation “Meet-a-leader” session with Mr. Robert Alan Feldman Lecture by Mrs. Sadako Ogata, President of Japan International Cooperation Agency
Day 1 Arrival & Dinner with host family
Day 2 MIT visit (Media Lab, Department of Urban Studies and Planning) Newberry Street, Boston Public Library Welcome dinner by the members of Japan Disaster Relief Fund Boston
Day 3 Museum of Fine Arts Boston & Chinatown Speech rehearsal Speech at the Longwood Symphony Orchestra concert “HOPE for Tohoku”
Day 4 Quincy Market & Brunch at Beacon Hill Cultural exchange program with Boston Boys and Girls Club
Day 5 Harvard visit Emerson College visit Farewell dinner with host family
Day 6 Train to Providence/Brown University Lunch with Star Fellows at Brown University Campus tour and attend undergraduate courses (political science and physics) Interview by The Brown Daily Herald BEYOND Tomorrow session “Orphaned by the Wave” Reception & Dinner with Brown University students
Day 7 Departure

Brown Daily Herald

BEYOND Tomorrow was featured in an article of THE BROWN DAILY HERALD on March 21, 2012.

Speech Scripts

Masahide Chiba My name is Masahide Chiba, and I am from Ofunato city in Iwate Prefecture. I am truly grateful to American people for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts on this occasion. Now I would like to speak about my experience and thoughts through the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami. It is strange to think back on the day before the earthquake and tsunami. Even though it was only 4pm, the sky above the school courtyard turned a deep crimson, and a large flock of birds flew overhead. If only I knew at that point that something was different. I still think of that moment often.
Ayaka Ogawa My name is Ayaka Ogawa and I come from Kamaishi city in Iwate Prefecture. In the tsunami, I lost my entire family. Not only did I lose my parents, sister and grandparents, I also lost the house that I lived in for 17 years. I lost so much that I could not lose more, and I was left all alone on this planet. On March 11th, immediately after the earthquake, I evacuated uphill with my mother and grandmother. However, the tsunami was right behind us like a huge black wall and my mother shouted “tsunami!”. That was the last time I heard her speak.
Sayaka Sugawara My name is Sayaka Sugawara, and I am from Ishinomaki. March 11th was my middle school graduation day. It was the day that my classmates of 10 years were to begin embarking on a new journey, a day that was meant to remain as a happy memory. The earthquake hit when I came home. It was a level of shaking that I had never felt before. The earthquake cut our power, so I was not able to receive information through the television. By the time I heard there was a tsunami coming and started to evacuate, it was already too late — I heard a ground-shaking boom, and in an instant my family and I were swallowed whole by the tsunami, along with my house. As I was being swept away with the rubble and black water, thoughts rushed through my head: “This is it. I’m going to die.” “I wish I had the chance to wear my high school uniform.”