Global Classmates Summit 2022

Global Classmates Summit 2022

Engaging the next generation of international leaders


Global Classmates Summit is a summer program facilitated by Kizuna Across Cultures (KAC) that brings together 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 sixth year, the Summit selected sixteen outstanding students (eight from the U.S. and eight from Japan) from a pool of 2,130 students who participated in the 2021-22 Global Classmates virtual program.


Since the Summit’s launch in 2017 until the third year, it was held in-person in Washington, DC; however, due to the global pandemic, it has been a virtual program since 2020. From late July to mid-August, students met three to four hours a day over the course of twelve days for online activities. They broadened their perspectives and deepened their knowledge through dialogue with international leaders and workshops with experts on a wide variety of topics, such as cross-cultural understanding, U.S.-Japan relations, diversity and international society, media literacy, and the role of citizen diplomacy.

Global Classmates Summit 2022

The Summit concluded with a group webinar presentation. 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 as the next generation of leaders in Japan and the U.S. to build a better future for the world. With limited time to prepare, they worked together to get ready for their presentations, helping each other practice their speeches and preparing slides. Guests commented that the presentations strongly resonated with them and that it was wonderful to see everyone speak their minds without hesitation during the Q&A session.

Global Classmates Summit 2022

At this year’s Summit, students fostered a level of deep bonding over the course of twelve online meetings that was comparable to the past Summits that were held in-person. Even after the official meeting was over, many students stayed late into the night (U.S. time) to play games, teach each other slangs, and enjoyed socializing with one another.


On the final day of the Summit, some were in tears as they delivered heartfelt messages to each other such as “I have made friends for life,” “I can’t imagine not keeping in touch with you,” and “We will definitely have to see each other in the future.” Many also expressed their gratitude for having made friends with whom they could discuss social issues and current events in depth with. When these students came together at the Summit and expressed their thoughts on various issues with other students with similarly high aspirations and outstanding speakers, they contributed to each other’s growth, and they were able to realize their own potential and develop confidence.

Summit 2022 Participants and Their Voices


United States

Lee Chilton

Roswell High School


    Anthony Furman

    Los Gatos High 

    School (California)

        Mary Harvey

        Stuyvesant High School

        (New York)


Atla Martinez Garcia

Lakeview High Schoo


  Cordelia Pestone

  Clarkstown High School

  South (New York)

        Rebecca Schmit

       Eleanor Roosevelt High School 


Evelyn Whorton

Everett High School


Kenny Xie

Mills High School



Lee Chilton – Roswell High School (Georgia)

I have gained so many new friends and connections, and the community formed in the Summit has become my favorite group of people. I am so much happier BECAUSE I participated in the Summit. I am 100% sure I want to pursue international relations now, and I am 100% sure I want to stay in contact with every member from this program. I always had the thought of trying the JET program, but now I’m so sure I want to pursue that course. I hope to take internships and jobs in US-Japan relations fields, and I hope my career leads me to Japan in the future.


Cordelia Pestone – Clarkstown High School South (New York)

The Summit has been a once in a lifetime experience, where I was able to create new friendships, improve my communication and collaboration skills, cultivate potential networking opportunities, expand my knowledge of the US-Japan field, and have a wonderful time bridging cultures. The friendships that I have made are irreplaceable, and I am so grateful to have been a part of this wonderful program. I now know how much I would love to major in East Asian Studies or Japanese, and have learned so much about the JET program that I would absolutely love to do. Also, being a mentor for other students who get to be a part of this amazing experience in the future is something else that I realized how much I would love to do, so thank you so much.


Atla Martinez Garcia – Lakeview High School (Michigan)

I learned a lot from the speakers about the diverse paths of everyone’s career. I came to understand Japanese culture more both through people my own age and those above it. I practiced having discussions with diverse people. I learned by listening to other people about their passions. I learned more on how to be approachable and friendly to new people too. I am really glad I got to meet all of those people too. This experience encouraged me to keep pursuing my Japanese language skills, so I want to make sure I can study it in University and potentially study abroad.




Sarari Aoyama

Rakuhoku High School


 Manaka Iida

 Yokosuka High School


         Urara Kijima

         Otemon High School



Keigo Kumada

Takamatsu Nishi High

School (Kagawa)

  Shota Takehana

  Ueda Nishi High School


         Norika Terakawa

         Matsuyama Chuo High School



Kei Ueda

Kosei Gakuen High

School (Tokyo)

Lenne Yoshikawa

Yokohama Shogyo High School



Sarari Aoyama – Rakuhoku High School (Kyoto)

At the Summit, I was able to learn about U.S.-Japan relations and international careers, which I had not known much about before. I have always been interested in researching animal behavior, but I now have a stronger desire to conduct research on an international level, such as by working with researchers from abroad. In addition, the experience of speaking about my research in English at the Summit gave me confidence for the future. I have also been interested in being a science illustrator, which is not a major job in Japan yet, but it has given me the motivation and confidence to pursue it by taking courses abroad and studying for it.


Manaka Iida – Yokosuka High School (Kanagawa)

Through the Summit, I learned from various speakers that the U.S.-Japan relationship is important to both countries and the world. I also learned that the international exchange that we are part of has great significance. In addition, I have come to love the U.S. even more. There are so many people from different backgrounds in the U.S., and I think this diversity is a good thing. Interacting with people from different backgrounds made me realize that there are various problems in the world that we do not encounter in Japan. I also learned that in order to solve these problems, it is necessary to consider different racial perspectives, which is not something we are exposed to in daily life in Japan.


Keigo Kumada – Takamatsu Nishi High School (Kagawa)

The Summit was a very valuable experience for me. I could see that my post-Summit self has clearly grown, and I was able to gain confidence in my future. In particular, I gained the ability to look at a single issue from different perspectives and find solutions, the ability to accept opinions that differ from my own, and the skills to communicate my thoughts in English. In the future, I hope to study medicine and provide medical care to areas in developing countries where there is a shortage of medical care. I believe the skills I have gained here have put me one step closer to achieving that dream.

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