Virtual Exchange Meets Real World:
Relationships that students from the United States and Japan cultivated online blossom as they meet one another in person to discover, dialogue, and collaborate.
Global Classmates Summit selects a handful of outstanding students who participated in Kizuna Across Culture’s virtual exchange program and brings them together in Washington, DC for in-person dialogue and collaboration. During the ten-day Summit, the students 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, participants reflect on what they have learned, and as young leaders share their thoughts on building a positive future for US-Japan relations and the broader international community.
Since its launch in 2012 our virtual language and cultural exchange program, Global Classmates, has connected 8,300 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 one another and cultivated mutual appreciation for each other’s culture.
Global Classmates Summit 2019
Global Classmates Summit 2019 took place in Washington, DC from July 25th to August 3rd.
Twelve high school students (six from the US and six from Japan) were selected from a pool of over 1,700 participants from KAC’s virtual exchange, Global Classmates, the previous year.
During the Summit, students stayed together at a local university dorm and engaged in various activities such as:
・Explored Washington, DC through scavenger hunt
・Had in-depth discussions on various topics including cultural differences and similarities, history, and societal issues
・Met with phenomenal leaders and experts at various organizations, including the State Department,US-Japan Congressional Caucus, Sumitomo Corporation of Americas, Sasakawa USA, and CULCON (The U.S.-Japan Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchange) to learn about leadership, collaboration, and ties between the United States and Japan at different levels
・Heard personal journeys of internationally minded young professionals in various fields through a career panel
・Visited exhibit on Japanese American history at the National Museum of American History
・Toured Georgetown University campus
・Worked collaboratively to make group presentation to conclude program
・On August 1st at the Japan Information and Culture Center, Embassy of Japan, the participants made a presentation in front of invited guests to share their Summit learning and ideas to enhance U.S.-Japan public diplomacy as young leaders.
* Prior to arriving in Washington DC, students from Japan gathered in Tokyo to participate in pre-departure activities, including visits to the US Embassy Tokyo and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.
Summit 2019 Participants
Evanston Township High
Scott County High School
Stuyvesant High School
Ocean Lakes High
Northern Valley Regional
High School of Old
Tappan (New Jersey)
South Lyon East High School
・I never thought that a program could provide me with such an eye-opening experience. In the span of ten days, I saw people’s dreams change, unity formed between people who look completely different from one another, indescribable teamwork and above all, I saw love that inspired me to be better in the future.
Trotter Alexander (Evanston Township High School, Illinois)
・I learned so much at the Summit, not only about various topics that we discussed with professionals, but about myself. I learned more about my strengths and weaknesses and how I am able to contribute to this team, my community, and the world. I made lifelong friends that I consider family, and I think if it weren’t for this experience, I would be a very different person. I am excited for the future. I am excited for how I can make a difference and I am excited to see how my fellow participants do the same. As I face many new and challenging situations in the future, I know I have everyone that was beside me in this Summit to look toward when I need inspiration and to lean on when I need support.
Sophia Bingham (Scott County High School, Kentucky)
・Not only did I learn valuable skills that are career related like networking and speaking to experts in their field, but I also learned how to understand and connect to people from cultures very different from mine. Career wise, this Summit made me so much more interested in government and possibility getting a job in diplomacy. I’m so glad I got to have this experience, and it is one I will remember for the rest of my life.
Lamia Bushra (Stuyvesant High School, New York)
・The Summit gave me so many opportunities to improve myself in so many ways. I was able to gain more knowledge of Japanese language and culture, and more about my culture as well. I also learned that the relationship between the U.S. and Japan is very close and we rely on each other for many different things. Prior to the Summit, I wasn’t planning on engaging in U.S.-Japan relations, but now I have a desire to pursue it.
Hannah Kindree (South Lyon East High School, Michigan)
High School (Fukushima)
Ikeda High School
Matsuyama Central High School
Yasufuruichi High School
Ishinomaki High School
Komatsugawa High School
・I learned how amazing it is to be yourself and accept each other’s differences. At the Summit, we all accepted each other the way we are. We were able to become a family because we all expressed ourselves and at times opened ourselves up to be vulnerable. I think it is because of our differences that we were able to work together and create something amazing.
Aiko Yano (Komatsugawa High School, Tokyo)
・This experience transformed the way I think about things. Through participating in activities such as an unconscious bias workshop that made me realize how the world is full of people in various circumstances to having engaging discussions with other participants who have diverse viewpoints, I was able to broaden my perspectives. It was also fun to share a room and learn a lot about each other’s cultures.
Hikaru Omiya (Yasufuruichi High School, Hiroshima)
・I learned the importance of public diplomacy. For example, I used to think that when relationship between Japan and another nation is tense, there is not a lot that can be done on an individual level. However, the Summit experience made me think that communication between people can lead to change.
Ryo Azuma (Fukushima Minami High School, Fukushima)
・I was able to understand and learn the various ways I can be involved with Japan-U.S. relations through my future profession. I want to study physics in college and if I can be a researcher, I would like to use English and work with many different people. It also made me want to study abroad in the U.S.
Rei Oura (Ishinomaki High School, Miyagi Prefecture)
Summit 2019 Photo Album
Summit 2019 Media Coverage
July 24, 2019 Wakana Fukuta to participate in Summit, Tokushima Shimbun
July 24, 2019 Global Classmates Summit Matsuyama Central High School
July 31, 2019 High School Students Learn about U.S.-Japan Relations, U.S. Embassy Tokyo
August 7, 2019 日米高校生、ネットで疑似留学 ＮＰＯ企画 震災後８３００人参加 (translation: U.S. and Japanese High School students virtual exchange), Tokyo Shimbun
September 3, 2019 渡米交流で確実に成長 (translation: Clear growth through the exchange experience in the U.S.), Asahi Shimbun Digital