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Have you ever had a wish for doing something incredibly rewarding as a teen? Teen years are a time for self-discovery and experimentation. The Japanese program at George Washington High School in San Francisco has offered project-based summer trips to Japan, where students meet local people in Japan for special “Kizuna (Friendship) projects.” In the past several years, we visited Miyagi prefecture in Tohoku, Japan, to continue with our efforts in building better lives for Japanese students that were affected by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Raising over $13,000 in a relief fund for restoring school supplies at our sister school and volunteering for beach cleanup, senior residences, local schools, and old school restoration projects, my students wished to continue with helping students at our sister schools and believed that all people need help when tragedy strikes, in order to bring a balance back to their lives. My students are always thinking of ways to volunteer and help fellow students at sister schools in Japan. This year, we try to look at our domestic problems through the lens of youth in our sister schools and decided to go southwest in Japan for possible actions. Several years ago, we started another “Kizuna” project with students in Saijo, a small town in Ehime, Japan. Since then, we have exchanged letters and viewpoints through various projects with five high schools in Saijo. With many differences of life styles, local concerns, and cultural perspectives between San Francisco, as one of the largest urban cities in the USA, and Saijo, a small town in Shikoku Island, Japan, we thought this relationship may bring unique yet rewarding experiences for students in both communities for starting new projects to create stronger ties in community bonds. In spring 2017, we welcomed 15 students from Saijo and helped them explore various cultures and current issues which have spread in San Francisco. Upon their return to Saijo, each student participant started their own local project for their community development through their experiences in San Francisco. “We are not perfect, but continue working together for all.” This summer, 23 George Washington High School students will visit Saijo and other locations for their cultural excursions and volunteerism. In Saijo, Washington students will meet local students, people and city officials and discuss various issues happening in San Francisco and Japan. We believe that innovation in education is the force that will continue to enable us to expand better communities through the lens of humanity and mutual understanding of all peoples and cultures. Washington and Saijo students will collaborate on potential solutions/motives for better lives for all and plan to organize unique daylong events while in Saijo.
All the students are responsible for the entire costs for their trip, but they need help in reducing their cost. Organizing various activities and events in Saijo requires us to raise additional funds for supplies and transportation to Saijo, Ehime. It is important for them to reach this area of Japan to participate in community building efforts between San Francisco and Saijo. Your donation will be used for funds for their activities in Saijo and domestic transportations. We appreciate your support! Arigato!
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