Global Fund for Education Assistance

TOMODACHI Summer 2012 BEYOND Tomorrow U.S. Program – Reconstruction and Planning –

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 Partnering with the TOMODACHI Initiative, BEYOND Tomorrow undertook “TOMODACHI Summer 2012 BEYOND Tomorrow U.S. Program – Reconstruction and Planning –“ in August 2012. The two-week program in New Orleans, Boston, New York and Washington D.C. aimed to provide students in Tohoku opportunities to learn from the U.S. experience in post-disaster reconstruction and planning and also act as Tohoku ambassadors to share their experiences with American people. Students were chosen through a rigorous selection process and nine students with a proven record of leadership activities and strong aspirations to become future leaders from Tohoku participated in the program.


  • To provide opportunities for Japanese students afflicted by the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami to draw lessons for Tohoku reconstruction from the efforts following 9.11 and Hurricane Katrina by visiting related organizations and experts.
  • To have the students act as ambassadors of Tohoku to the American people and develop a model for U.S-Japan leadership exchange in the context of Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami

Dates and Locations

Orientation Program June 29-July 1, 2012 Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan
U.S. Program August 6-21, 2012 New Orleans, Louisiana (August 7-11, 2012) Itinerary
New York, New York (August 11-16, 2012) Itinerary
Boston, Massachusetts (August 16-19, 2012) Itinerary
Washington D.C. (August 19-21, 2012) Itinerary


10 students who were residents of Iwate, Miyagi or Fukushima at the time of the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami, and have finished high school or proceeded to higher education by March 2012. All participants were chosen through a rigorous selection process.

Program Summary

Orientation Program

 The orientation program took place June 29 – July 1, 2012 at the foot of Mount Fuji. With guest lecturers from the Ministry of Land Use and Planning, the students received hands-on training on the basics of urban planning and reconstruction policies, and based on their own experience, identified issues to be addressed in reconstruction efforts in Tohoku. Divided in two teams, each team developed a presentation on what they would like to learn in the U.S. (Please see the post-event report for details)

Program in the United States

The program provided participating students with opportunities to learn about post-disaster efforts in the United States, communicate with Japanese leaders who are active internationally, convey messages from Tohoku, and engage in cultural exchange programs with American youths. This comprehensive program enabled students to act as ambassador from Tohoku.

a) Learning reconstruction and city planning from post-Katrina and post-9/11 recovery efforts

Students visited a number of individuals and organizations that have been active in post-disaster efforts. These experiences provided students with insight to think about what they would like to bring back to Tohoku for the reconstruction.
 You have to start with the culture you are in. What works in New Orleans may not work in other cities in the United States. Carol Bebelle, Co-Founder & Executice Director, Ashe Cultural Arts Center
We have a tendency to look back. What we have to do is to look forward. To be courageous is an opportunity that sooner or later is presented to all of us. Joseph W. Pfeifer, Chief, New York City Fire Department
There was a line that I just said today for the first time on my tour. It was ‘I would not be the person today if I didn’t experience the tragedy of 9/11’. It took me longer time to get there than it took to you. But if you can do that, if you can become a stronger and better person because of the tragedy, I think you find the reason to be. A docent who lost her husband on 9.11
You, the young generation of Tohoku, are the ones who will make the future of Tohoku, and you must be at the forefront Tohoku rebuilding.Shun Kanda (Director, MIT Japan 3/11 Initiative, Department of Architecture)

b) Dialogue with leaders

Students engaged in dialogues with Japanese people from various fields who are active internationally. These opportunities provided students with global perspectives to contribute to society in the future in their fields of passion.
If you have opportunities, choose the difficult one that could possibly broaden your perspective. If you are 50% confident, take the chance. There you might find how you can contribute to the society. Particularly young people should go outside Japan as much as possible. Motoatsu Sakurai, President, Japan Society

You, the young generation, will make the future of Japan and the world. Leadership is to make your dreams come true and spread it to others. In other words, leadership is about taking control of yourself. Atsuko Toko Fish Trustee, Fish Family Foundation

c) From Tohoku to America – Survivors stories

 The students delivered presentations to a number of audiences. Presentations included their experiences in the 3/11 earthquake and tsunami, their Tohoku favourites, what they would like to achieve during the program in the U.S., as well as their gratitude to the United States for the support that was given to Tohoku during the disaster.
 “March 11th was a cold day. On that winter day, I lost everything – my hometown, my house, and my father I loved so much. However, after the disaster, I joined BEYOND Tomorrow and was blessed with new friends who were also suffering the pain. BEYOND Tomorrow brought us together. The past cannot change the present, but the present can change the future. I want to change sadness into strength”

d) Cultural Exchange – Interaction with American students as grassroots ambassadors

The participating students interacted with American students in a leadership exchange between America and Japan. These experiences symbolized the “TOMODACHI generation” – partnership between young Americans and Japanese who will make the future of the two countries and the world.
 Cultural exchange with high school students in Japan Society Theater Program
 Cultural Exchange program with Boston Boys and Girls Club
 Barbeque Dinner at Harlem with USJC Members
 Tour of Columbia University by Mr. Fred Katayama

Closing event

 A closing event was organized with the cooperation of the U.S.-Japan Council on August 20, the last day of the trip, in Washington DC. The students presented what they learned in the United States in front of various leaders from areas including the Japanese government, U.S. government, business, non-profit organizations, international organizations, etc. Please see the slides of the final presentation (PDF)


  •  Introductory Remarks from Mr. Neil Horikoshi, President & Executive Director, Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund
  • Special Remarks from Mr. Koji Tomita, Minister at the Embassy of Japan in the United States of America
  • Introduction of BEYOND Tomorrow
  • Students Presentation Speeches of student representatives (Ayaka Ogawa, Atsuko Arimoto) What students would like to convey to the United States from Japan What students learned in the United States and what they would like to bring back to Tohoku

Koji Tomita Minister, Embassy of Japan in the United States of America
I am particularly impressed with this program because it has alarmed all the participants to share the experience , the real experiences, of reconstruction efforts in the various areas in the United States so that they can bring these experiences and expertise to their own efforts, take on the challenge when they go back to their respective local communities.
Neil Horikoshi President & Executive Director, Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund
We are proud of your leadership as you embark on your next days, months, and years ahead as you take on to become next leaders for the Tohoku region. We are proud all of you.

Media Coverage




  • “Learning Reconstruction in the United States” (August 7, 2012 The Iwate Nippo)
  • “Affected Students Interacting with the Bereaved of 9/11” (August 15, 2012 The Fukushima Mimpo)
  • “Affected Students’ Determination in NY” (August 15, 2012, Iwate Nippo)
  • “3/11 9/11 Each Memory” (August 15, 2012, The Kahoku Shimpo)
  • “Final Presentations in Washington D.C.” (August 21, 2012, The Nikkei)


Funded by:

 U.S.-Japan Council
 Japanese Disaster Relief Fund – Boston
KPMG Japan

Supported by:

 Japan Society

BEYOND Tomorrow