Global Classmates Summit

Relationships that students from the United States and Japan cultivated online blossom as they meet one another in person for a week of discovery and dialogue.


The Global Classmates Summit (Summit) selects a handful of the outstanding students who participated in our virtual exchange program and brings them together for a week-long in-person exchange with advanced collaboration goals. During the Summit, the students will live under the same roof and participate in various activities ranging from teambuilding exercises to meeting international leaders and experts. At the end of the program the participants will reflect on what they have learned and share their proposals to tackle common challenges in US-Japan relations and in the broader international community.


Since its launch in 2012 our virtual language and cultural exchange program, Global Classmates, has connected nearly 5,000 high school students in the United States and Japan, making a powerful impact on the students and their future. We have been impressed by how students have built friendships with each other and cultivated mutual appreciation for each other’s culture.


Ayako Smethurst, our President and Co-founder, comments, “We are very excited about evolving these successful virtual exchanges into an in-person collaboration that will serve as an example and inspiration for many young people on how friendship with peers abroad can lead to positive impacts on the relationship between their nations and the broader international community.”

Global Classmates Summit 2017

Global Classmates Summit

Global Classmates Summit 2017 will take place in Washington, DC from late July to early August with the theme, How can we strengthen future people-to-people ties in US-Japan relations?


Twelve high school students (six from the US and six from Japan) were selected from a pool of nearly 1,350 participants of our virtual exchange program in the previous year.


During the Summit, the students will stay together at a local University dorm and engage in various activities such as: exploring the capital of the United States; exchanging cultures with each other; meeting with experienced leaders, as well as internationally minded young professionals and university students; and working together to make a presentation on their proposal for the Summit theme to conclude the program.


* Prior to arriving in Washington DC, students from Japan will gather in Tokyo to participate in pre-departure activities.

Summit 2017 Participants


Bianca Gutierrez – Groves High School (MI)
Pauline DeLacruz – Landstown High School (VA)
Percy Ruffin – Landstown High School (VA)
Mason Graves – Scott County High School (KY)
Paige Long – Scott County High School (KY)
Cheryl Chen – Stuyvesant High School (NY)





Atsumi Morita – Inagakuen High School (Saitama Prefecture)
Taiki Yamaguchi – Inagakuen High School (Saitama Prefecture)
Kana Nasukawa – Ishinomaki High School (Miyagi Prefecture)
Ryo Takahashi – Ishinomaki High School (Miyagi Prefecture)
Moe Shoji – Murasakino High School (Kyoto Prefecture)
Rei Izawa – Murasakino High School (Kyoto Prefecture)

Summit 2017 Stories

Here are comments from some of the participants describing their excitements and personal goals for participating in the Summit:

Global Classmates Summit

Paige Long, Scott County High School (KY)
The personal conversation with Japanese students, intellectual stimulation, and thorough discussion of U.S.-Japan relations offered at the Summit make it simply too beneficial of an experience to pass up. My goal is not only to gain knowledge of Japanese language and culture, but also to make meaningful, lasting relationships. I also hope to gain a greater understanding of U.S.-Japan relations

Global Classmates Summit

Percy Ruffin, Landstown High School (VA)
My interest in diplomatic affairs, the desire to increase my Japanese language skills pertaining to diplomatic affairs, and my desire to understand the opinions of my peer’s native to the Japanese language are all objectives and interests that have motivated me to participate in the Summit. Through the completion of these goals at the Global Classmates Summit, I aspire to grow not only as a student who is studying the Japanese language, but as an individual who is able to understand and accept the opinions of others.

Global Classmates Summit

Bianca Gutierrez, Groves High School (MI)
This summit will help me grow because I will be able to not only strengthen my communication with people from all different places, but also will gain perspective and understanding. It will help me be more actively productive in my activism and help me learn valuable life lessons. If I can truly understand my counterparts, then I will be more deliberate in the way I live my life because I will have a deeper understanding of those around me in the world.

Global Classmates Summit

Taiki Yamaguchi, Inagakuen High School (Saitama Prefecture)

I have two goals I would like to achieve through participating in the Summit. One is to have a meaningful dialogue while embracing values that are different from mine. The other goal is that by sharing with people in our own countries the cultural learning we gain at the Summit, we can increase the number of people who understand the excitement and importance of learning about other cultures.

Global Classmates Summit

Moe Shoji, Murasakino High School (Kyoto Prefecture)

I hope to understand and respect the American cultures as well as share Japanese culture and values to my peers in the United States. Participation in the Summit will become an important step for my long-time dream to become a true global citizen with an open mind.

Global Classmates Summit

Ryo Takahashi, Ishinomaki High School (Miyagi Prefecture)

My future career objective is to combat world poverty. To prepare, I would like to break my own stereotypes that I may not even be aware of due to my limited international experience, and become able to view things from various perspectives. I am also hoping to fully immerse myself in America and build close friendship with fellow participants from the United States.

Summit 2017 Photo Album

Coming late August

Summit 2017 Media Coverage

Click here for the press release.

Summit 2017 Sponsors

 Sasakawa USA               US US Embassy               Japan Foundation