Global Classmates Summit 2021
Engaging the next generation of international leaders
Global Classmates Summit is a summer program that brings together a Japanese and American high school students who hold the potential to influence and lead in diverse communities in the future. Through a wide variety of activities, the students deepen their understanding of one another and develop friendship, while fostering their skills to promote mutual understanding and cooperation between Japan and the U.S., as well as the broader international community.
In its fifth year, the Summit selected fourteen outstanding students (seven from the U.S. and seven from Japan) from a pool of 1,952 students who participated in the 2020-21 Global Classmates virtual program.
Under normal circumstances, the Summit is held in Washington, D.C.; however, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, this year’s Summit was held virtually, as it was the previous year. From late July to mid-August, students met three to four hours a day over the course of twelve days for online activities. The students expanded their perspectives and deepened their thoughts through lectures by international leaders, workshops by experts, and discussions among the participants not only on conventional topics such as “U.S.-Japan relations,” “mutual cultural understanding,” and “the role of citizens diplomacy,” but also on current issues such as “anti-racism” and “the role of journalism.”
The Summit concluded with a group presentation, where participants shared their learnings and presented their proposals for building a brighter future for U.S.-Japan relations and the international community as leaders of the next generation. The Japanese students gave their presentations in English, while the American students challenged themselves and gave their presentations in Japanese for the first time in the Summit’s history.
Summit 2021 Participants and Their Voices
Los Gatos High School
| Sequoia Connell
Winston Churchill High
| Jaylen Lockhart
Whitney M. Young Magnet
High School (Illinois)
International School of
| Kriteen Shrestha
Cupertino High School
| Clara Wawrzyn
Glenbrook South High School
Stuyvesant High School
Right after the Summit started, I was surprised to see how kind all the students were; everyone was so encouraging with all our language skills, and all contributed in our engaging discussions, that produced lessons I don’t think I’ll ever forget. I learned so many important lessons about understanding different cultures, and realized how tangible it is for me to participate in bettering U.S.-Japan relations. My main takeaway is that the idea of “international relationships” is nothing but learning how to be an understanding and kind person, and being active in creating a better society. I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to discuss such deep and interesting concepts with such engaged and interested students from across the U.S. and Japan, and have such encouraging staff create such an awesome learning environment! I will never forget this amazing experience, and hope to take these lessons into whatever I do to better our society in the future.
Kriteen Shrestha – Cupertino HIgh School (California)
My biggest takeaway from the Summit is that everything we do towards pursuing language and understanding Japanese culture has larger implications. The Summit made me consider how I could transfer a career in chemical engineering to an international setting. I feel the best step would be to find someone who has accomplished this then interview them. However, listening to people from the department of state speak so passionately has also continued my interest in becoming a foreign service officer.
Adam Ramsey – International School of Beaverton (Oregon)
I became more confident in my opinions. At the start of the Summit, I was a little afraid to talk about difficult topics since I did not want to offend anyone. However, in a space like the Summit, I felt free to express my opinions. Our conversations led us to immensely important junctures. With the perspective of the other students I was able to take a look back and examine my country. I could examine if the systems I had come to accept were actually normal or not. I learned a lot and I enjoyed everyone’s conversations and everyone’s enthusiasm throughout this process. We should never be afraid to share our opinions because doing so allows for change, and we should listen to understand and not respond. I think that by adopting this mindset, we can better tackle issues we see in both the United States, and Japan.
Jaylen Lockhart – Whitney M. Young Magnet High School (Illinois)
Hiro High School
| Akari Kamiya
Kani High School (Gifu)
| Ai Matsunaga
Fujimi High School
Uwa High School (Ehime)
| Miu Sakaguchi
Yokosuka High School
| Chihiro Suzuki
Yokosuka High School
High School (Saga)
I want to learn practical English in college and be exposed to a lot of opinions from people with diverse backgrounds. The Summit experience convinced me that I was on the right track. To achieve this goal, I strongly want to study abroad in the United States. In addition, I would like to help organize international exchange events for junior high and high school students. Through the Summit, I was able to learn many things that I cannot learn in the classroom, and I gained the confidence to realize my future dreams. Even if your future dream is not international, I believe that the ability to express yourself, the attitude of trying to understand others, and the consideration for others who are different from you that I learned through the Summit, are all very important in any field.
Chihiro Suzuki – Yokosuka High School (Kanagawa)
At the Summit, I was able to make many new discoveries by actively speaking up, like “Wow some Americans think like this!” to “I should’ve said it more like this.” When I couldn’t express myself very well, the staff helped me and the other participants sincerely listened to me. In this wonderful environment that respected my desire to communicate even if my words were not perfect, I was able to see the view that you can only see if you challenge yourself. There are many different people in the world, and I am one of them, and I realized that I should live my life the way I want to without worrying too much about what others think, and that I should express my thoughts clearly.
Kota Fujikawa – Hiro High School (Hiroshima)
It was the most enriching summer vacation I’ve ever had. Most of all, I made lifelong friends, had a lot of fun, and learned things that I had never learned before. I don’t usually have the opportunity to share my thoughts with people from other countries, and I haven’t had the opportunity to think about my identity, so I learned a lot. As we face various social issues today, I realized that it is important to pay attention to them like we did in the Summit.
Ai Matsunaga – Fujimi High School (Shizuoka)