January 13, 2017 – The TOMODACHI Initiative* and Honda Motor Co., Ltd. (“Honda”) held the “TOMODACHI Honda Cultural Exchange Program 2017”, a two-week long cultural exchange program in Los Angeles, California from December 26, 2016 to January 9, 2017.
For three years beginning in 2015, Tohoku high school students who suffered from the Great East Japan Earthquake were selected to participate in this program. In prior years, students from Miyagi and Iwate prefectures were selected. In this final year of the program, twenty high school students from Fukushima prefecture participated in the program.
During the program, the students experienced American tradition and culture by meeting local students, having exchanges with the U.S. military, participating in volunteer activities and a homestay opportunity. As a highlight of the program, the students participated in the historic Rose Parade sponsored by American Honda Motor Co. by performing an original musical piece during the iconic American New Year’s tradition. In addition, the high school students had an opportunity to decorate the float which was exhibited by American Honda for the Rose parade. The float was created with designs that incorporated the phoenix and Japanese crane, depicting the images of “eternity” and “peace”. The students helped to decorate this float, which integrated U.S. and Japan cultural concepts with “peace” as the underlying theme.
Created by the TOMODACHI Initiative and Honda to develop and deepen exchanges among the next generation of leaders of the United States and Japan, the “TOMODACHI Honda Cultural Exchange Program” invites students from areas affected by the Earthquake who are engaged in music to visit Los Angeles, California. The program provides opportunities for the students to experience American traditions and culture through music, which is a universal language. This 3-year partnership has provided total of 60 high school students with a way to promote mutual understanding between Japan and the United States, a chance to establish friendships and relationships, and a means for expressing gratitude for the support offered by Americans for the recovery of the Tohoku region.
*About the TOMODACHI Initiative
The TOMODACHI Initiative is a public-private partnership between the U.S.-Japan Council and the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and supported by the Government of Japan. Born out of support for Japan’s recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake, TOMODACHI invests in the next generation of Japanese and American leaders through educational and cultural exchanges as well as leadership programs. The Initiative seeks to foster a “TOMODACHI Generation” of young American and Japanese leaders who are committed to and engaged in strengthening U.S.-Japan relations, appreciate each other’s countries and cultures, and possess the global skills and mindsets needed to contribute to and thrive in a more cooperative, prosperous, and secure world.
TOMODACHI Initiative website: http://usjapantomodachi.org/