Global Classmates Summit
Global Classmates Summit 2023
Engaging the next generation of international leaders
The Global Classmates Summit selects a handful of outstanding students who participated in Kizuna Across Cultures’ virtual exchange program to participate in various activities that deepen their mutual understanding and collaboration over the course of about ten days. For this 7th Summit, fourteen high school students (seven from the US and seven from Japan) were selected from a pool of 2,129 participants of our virtual exchange program in the previous year.
The 2023 Summit took place from late-July to mid-August for a total of twelve days, meeting online for approximately 3-4 hours a day. During the Summit, the students expanded their perspectives and deepened their thoughts through various activities including meeting with experienced leaders, as well as internationally minded professionals, and participating in discussions on topics such as cross-cultural understanding, U.S.-Japan relations, diversity and international society, media literacy, AI and journalism, and role of public diplomacy.
This year’s Summit also continued the fostering of a peer learning community where students learn from each other and provide positive feedback to each other. We were impressed to see that all of the students demonstrated leadership in a variety of situations and actively contributed on their own initiative, while at the same time being mindful to elicit thoughts and comments from others. Perhaps because of this, this year’s team had a strong sense of cohesion and they were very comfortable spending time together. Even after the closure of each official session, almost all of the students stayed online for hours to play games, continue talking, and deepen their bond.
On the final day of the Summit, students gave a webinar presentation to a public audience. With guests in attendance, the students reflected on their experiences and learnings from the Summit, and shared their ideas on how they could work together to build a better future for the world as the next generation of leaders in Japan and the U.S. Guests commented that they were impressed by the students’ liveliness, the way they expressed their opinions in their second language, and that it was wonderful that they focused on important issues and challenges in society and exchanged their opinions frankly. With limited time to prepare, the students supported each other by practicing speeches together, giving pronunciation advice, and helping with making slides. Throughout the presentations, the students sent each other messages of encouragement and support. The bond between the students was strengthened even more as they worked together to prepare for their presentations.
After the final presentations, the students gathered one more time with KAC staff to reflect on their Summit experience. Many expressed gratitude for the supportive and welcoming environment created by the participants and staff. They explained how participating in the Summit had increased their confidence in using their target language and expressing their opinions. Even though the Summit has concluded, we hope the participants will carry this experience, and the friendships they have made, with them into the future.
Maranna Nwozo – Eleanor Roosevelt High School (Maryland)
Participating in the Summit made me realize that I want a future that has to do with international connections. Pursuing global curiosity led me from simply taking a Japanese class to meeting students from Japan and becoming friends. So in college, instead of getting a regular business major, I plan to get a major that combines business and international relations.
William Garrett – Lockport Township High School (Illinois)
I can’t help but feel sad now that I know that the Summit is over because I made such deep connections with the other participants. We had such interesting discussions and learned to listen openly to each other, and the guest speakers’ talks were always really interesting. I think the connections and eye-opening experiences were what really made the Summit so great. I always wanted to study abroad in Japan, and attending this Summit only heightened those feelings for me.
Joy Ohta – Chief Sealth International High School (Washington)
Listening to all of the speakers and learning about their careers, I have gained a whole new perspective on how different careers aid international relations. Also, just being able to meet all the participants and hearing everyone’s different thoughts and ideas was motivating and interesting. I now know that I definitely want to study international relations in college and I would like to maybe intern at the Embassy of Japan or pursue similar opportunities.
Koko Inoue – Rakuhoku High School (Kyoto)
I absorbed a lot of ideas through engaging deeply with people from different parts of Japan and people from across the U.S. Everyone had such a wide variety of backgrounds, beliefs, and culture, yet I was happy that we connected through our differences more than our commonalities. I have gained confidence that I will be able to get along with many different people in the future, and I want to be friends with these members forever! Everyone was really inspiring, and through the in-depth interaction with the guest speakers, I developed a desire to work internationally. I had always wanted to contribute to the medical field. I was particularly interested in the Universal Health College of the United Nations World Health Organization, but I found out that there are so many different ways to contribute to the international community, and I am not sure what to do. Although I am unsure now, I feel as if my possibilities have expanded and I am so excited.
Chise Nakahara – Takamatsu Nishi High School (Kagawa)
I was able to learn various ways of thinking and it became clear to me what I need. I was also able to think about how I could improve my own relationships and my country’s relationships, something I had been hesitant about before. I realize through the Summit that while everyone has different interests, there is a place for everyone to shine, and there are things even students like us can do to make a difference in the world.
At an age when it is necessary to think in many different ways, I was able to learn the necessary mindset and ways of thinking. It was also great to make friends who I can share various ideas with in a safe environment without being judged as good or bad and they made me want to work harder.
Rio Shiomi – Rakuhoku High School (Kyoto)
I have always been more of a listener and rarely a speaker, but through this Summit I have learned to enjoy participating in discussions. I started to want others to hear my opinions. I still sometimes feel timid about using English, especially with native English speakers, but my desire to be a part of the conversation has become greater than my timidness. I want to continue the dialogue with the friends I have made and improve my English skills.