Former U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy
The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo is a proud supporter of Kizuna Across Cultures and the Global Classmates program. The future of the U.S.-Japan friendship depends on students, the leaders of tomorrow. I am so pleased that the Global Classmates participants are working to practice their language skills and learn more about life in Japan and the United States.
Our world today is filled with complicated challenges, and all nations must work together to find common solutions. That means we need more people who can overcome differences in language and in culture, to cooperate and support each other. Global Classmates has connected thousands of students from the United States and Japan. I would like to encourage them to stay in touch with the new friends they’ve made and even consider visiting each other in person by studying abroad in the United States and Japan when they graduate from this program. Congratulations and thank you to all the participants on both sides of the Pacific. Keep up the great work!
Dr. Gary Mukai, Director, Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE), Stanford University
Since meeting Ayako Smethurst and her dedicated staff members at Kizuna Across Cultures earlier this year, I have been impressed with their sincere desire to connect students in the United States and Japan through the Global Classmates Program. The program inspires students to look beyond their communities, embrace diversity, and become active global citizens—goals that are shared by my colleagues at SPICE, Stanford University—and provides a platform for students on both sides of the Pacific to contribute to strengthening the U.S.–Japan relationship, one of the most critical bilateral relationships in the world.
Kyoko Shimomura, Advisor, Culture Vision Japan Foundation Inc.
My path crossed with Kizuna Across Cultures(KAC) in 2013 when I went to Washington, DC with my husband, who was the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology at that time. It was then that I heard Ms. Ayako Smethurst present on KAC’s activities at a gathering with the Japanese language educational community. While I spoke to many people, I thought Global Classmates was the most exciting and pioneering program. Although the world is increasingly becoming more globalized, it is still not free of disputes and conflicts. In order to respect and deepen our understanding of one another’s cultures while overcoming the economic disparities and religious differences, it is necessary that we learn together and help one another grow, in an environment where we can connect and see one another.
KAC’s foundation is in building such relationships of trust while learning about each other’s cultures using each other’s languages. The program is building foundations for world peace through promoting opportunities to teenagers to accept others with an open heart and learn from each other without feeling barriers. I sincerely hope that this wonderful educational program will spread around the world.
Hideaki Kogo, Director, Center for Innovation in English Education / Professor, Faculty of International Studies Keiai University
Former Senior Specialist for Curriculum Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) National Institute for Educational Policy Research (NIER)
Since I was a Senior Specialist for Curriculum at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and the National Institute for Educational Policy Research (NIER), I have been supporting Kizuna Across Cultures’ (KAC’s) Global Classmates program for many years. Specifically, I have been introducing Global Classmates to Boards of Education, high schools, and teachers throughout Japan that are interested in such a program. I do this because the program provides students a valuable opportunity for international exchange and to practice communicating in English with their peers. As someone who oversaw high school foreign language education at MEXT, I could not be more grateful than I am for this program. I am deeply thankful for the tireless efforts of KAC President Ayako Smethurst, Vice President Shanti Shoji, Japan Director Tomoyuki Suzuki, and other staff to advance Global Classmates.
Through this program, many Japanese and US high school students have had an invaluable international exchange experience. This program is highly attractive as students are able to engage with their classmates abroad in an e-classroom, improve their ability to express themselves, and also improve their language skills, all while fostering their skills as global citizens. Furthermore, this is all done without the large cost of traveling abroad, and schools receive support from KAC in all aspects of the program. My hope is that even more schools continue to participate in Global Classmates.