JSU expands its cultural horizons through the TOMODACHI Inouye Scholars Program

DSCF8322 (1)Jackson State University has been selected as a participant school for the 2016-2017 TOMODACHI Inouye Scholars Program. The HBCU is partnering with the Miyagi University of Education and will send 23 students on a fully funded educational study tour to Japan on March 13-21.

Additionally, JSU Global will host 23 future teachers from Japan March 2-8. Jackson State is one of four schools in the country to receive the study grant and is the only HBCU and Mississippi school chosen for the program.

The TOMODACHI program is a unique youth exchange that provides JSU and Japanese students an opportunity to learn about each other’s countries and cultures. By participating, students will be able to see the connection between Japan and the U.S. and why this bilateral relationship is so special.

The program is named in honor of Sen. Daniel K. Inouye – the late Japanese–American from Hawaii. During his life, Inouye witnessed the complicated history the U. S. has had with minority populations. Despite, or maybe, because of these challenges, the senator was able to draw on and develop his skills and talents and rise to one of the highest offices in American society.  He did this not for his personal gain but for the benefit of all Americans regardless of their background, race or ethnicity.

“Before being selected to participate in the TOMODACHI program, I knew very little about Japan or Senator Daniel K. Inouye. Japan always seemed so far away, but I am blessed to have the opportunity to experience a new culture and landscape,” said Kiana McFadden, a junior earth system science major.

It is hoped that the TOMODACHI scholars will return to JSU inspired by Inouye’s commitment to public service, justice, and US-Japan cooperation. As TOMODACHI scholars, JSU students will be able to delve deeply into Inouye’s life and achievements and understand the larger picture of his legacy. With the support of the U.S. – Japan Council, the program implementation will be supported by the Japan International Cooperation Center (JICE) and is fully funded by the Government of Japan’s KAKEHASHI Project. images-1

The 23 students were selected based on a range of criteria, such as academic achievements, essay response, interview, presentation skills, maturity, cooperation, teamwork and commitment to the goals of the program. While accompanied by two faculty/staff chaperones, students will visit Tokyo and Sendai in Miyagi Prefecture.

Scholars are obligated to present and share their experiences with peers and campus community before, during and after the program. Also, they will conduct research and form a presentation about the life and legacy of Senator Inouye at the partner university in Japan.