UC Berkeley faculty, staff invited to host Japanese students

Three hundred high-school students who lived through last year’s devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan are coming to UC Berkeley for a three-week leadership program this summer.

Campus faculty and staff are being sought to help host the students for a weekend homestay (Aug. 3 to 5) during the Tomodachi Softbank Leadership Program. The cultural exchange is a collaboration of Ayusa, a San Francisco non-profit dedicated to global learning and leadership, and UC Berkeley’s Center for Cities and Schools.

Faculty and staff families who are interested in hosting a student, as well as families in the community, may contact David Beiser, director of grant programs at Ayusa, at dbeiser@ayusa.org or by calling the organization’s toll-free number, 1-888-552-9872.

The program at Berkeley will run from July 23 to Aug. 10 and will center around discussions of global leadership and community service. The visiting students will develop individual community-service action projects to carry out back home.

The program is a part of the Tomodachi Initiative, a public-private partnership created In response to the death and destruction caused when an 8.9 magnitude earthquake and resulting 23-foot tsunami struck the Tohoku region of eastern Japan just over a year ago. The initiative is led by the U.S. Embassy in Japan and the non-profit U.S.-Japan Council, and is supported by the Japanese government.

Tomodachi, which means “friendship” in Japanese, supports Japan’s recovery from the disaster and invests in the next generation of Japanese students, to strengthen cultural and economic ties and deepen the friendship between the United States and Japan, according to Ayusa’s announcement of the Berkeley program.

The Tomodachi Softbank Leadership Program was officially announced in Japan earlier this year. All students, to be selected early in May, will receive full scholarships for their Berkeley visits through the program, which is funded by the Softbank Corp., a large telecommunications company in Japan run by Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son, a 1980 graduate of UC Berkeley who majored in economics.