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Our Activities

Ashita-Tomorrow supports international communication program using Internet video communication between the affected high school students and American high school and college students.

In May 2021, we have started AOH (Ashita Ohanashi Hiroba) using Zoom, with a hope to provide an opportunity where the young people in Japan and America can meet, exchange information/ideas and, most importantly to develop friendship. Under the covid restrictions, since traveling is limited and realistically nearly impossible between Japan and USA, we thought it would be good to have AOH. We had AOH once in every 2 weeks, on Japanfs Monday morning before the classes begin, which is Sunday evening in the USA. The format is approximately 20 minutes presentation by a speaker, followed by questions and comments from the participants, making the total of 30 minutes. We had 4 meetings as follow until the Japanese schools went into a summer recess:

1st AOH 5/30 USA (31 Japan) /2021: Presented by Nagisa Hoshi, Tsuda University - gMy hometown IWAKI, My college life in Tsuda University
2nd AOH 6/13 USA (14 Japan)/2021: Presented by Melissa Saker, Columbia University - gWhere are you from?h (about her multi national background
3rd AOH 6/27 USA (28 Japan)/2021: Presented by Tasuku Fujii, Gakushuin University - gMy School life & Experience of Homestay
4th AOH 7/11 USA (12 Japan)/2021: Presented by Wesley Day, newly graduate of Yale University going into a medical school - gAn overview of my recent American college experienceh

All the presentations were very interesting, and hope to resume soon. (Dates are not determined yet.)

Ashita Ohanashi Sessions (formerly Skype Sessions) started on November 2, 2020. As before, communication sessions are held between Japanese students and USA volunteers, once a week, before the classes start in Japan in the morning. Video conference via Zoom, and in some cases, LINE communication is used this school year. Thus we have renamed the sessions Ohanashi Sessions, rather than Skype Sessions.

Zoom has been used starting fall of 2020 since it is more reliable and easier to use with individualsf PC or smart phones which can be used outside of the schools. This made it easier to continue the sessions especially under Covid-19 lockdown.

The original Skype sessions were started in October 2011 by Alyssa Zupon, then a Sophomore of Yale University, and a few students at Kesennuma High School in Miyagi prefecture. These sessions have now expanded to include Iwaki High School, Fukushima Kousen (national 5 year Technical school) Sendai Ikuei Gakuen High School (private school), and alumni of these high schools.

For the USA side, with a help of the professors of Japanese Language Department of various universities, along with the volunteersf advertisement and solicitation, we have increased the number of volunteers not only at Yale University, but Duke University, and Columbia University. In addition to these university students, volunteers from Horace Mann Highschool and graduates from these schools are helping Ashita Ohanashi Sessions.

The year 2020 was a difficult year. Several US university students had to return to their home countries following Covid lock down in March 2020, and could not conduct the sessions. Even against the hardships, the program continued and the following is the number of participants of Ohanashi Sessions for the school year 2020-2021:

¡Participants in Japan:
   Kesennuma High School in Miyagi Ken    7 students
   Sendai Ikuei Gakuen High School    20 students
   Iwaki High School, Fukushima Kennbsp;  3 students
   Fukushima Kosen (National School)    7 students
   Ashita Alumni    8 students

¡US Volunteers:
   Yale University   15 students
   Duke University    9 students
   Columbia University   7 students
   Graduate from Bryn Mawr College   1 student
   Horace Mann School   1 student

To facilitate these sessions, Ashita-Tomorrow financed PC, Tablet, and other application related expenses in Japan.

We will continue the Ashita Ohanashi Sessions and other programs that will encourage and assist Japanese students to learn English as a method to communicate with people around the world and widen their perspectives and knowledge. In addition to the Ohanashi Sessions, we plan, pending suspension of Covid lockdown, to resume our program of inviting select US volunteers to visit and interact with the Japanese students and schools. This program started in 2019, and has invited 4 volunteers (2 students each in summer and fall of 2019).
Alyssa Zupon - Founder of Ashita Skype Sessions
When I first visited Kesennuma High School in July 2011, I was shocked by the devastation by March 11th earthquake and tsunami. Even though four months had passed, it looked as though the disaster had just swept through the town and most of the area was still in rubble. I was overwhelmed initially and felt that something needed to be done for the people who suffered so much. At our meeting that Ms. Masako Ueda set up with Kesennuma High School?fs principal and director of teachers, I proposed the idea of talking to students via Skype (internet video conferencing) as an immediate way to connect with the victims of the disaster. I wanted the students to know that I, and others, care about them and that they are not alone during their difficult recovery process. Further, English is a very important subject in the Japanese education, English conversation would be beneficial academically as well. The Skype tutoring sessions began in October 2011 and have since expanded to include over 18 American volunteers (from Yale University and Horace Mann High School) and several dozens of Japanese students.

Interacting with the students over Skype every week was a very rewarding experience, but it was extremely special to meet students selected from the Skype-session participants in 2013. This experience has taught me how one small idea or person can lead to incredible results by collecting many people?fs goodwill. Also, I started with the intention of helping the victims of the disaster, but I also learned from their courage, perseverance, and appreciation for everything and they have reminded me what is important for life.

I am a resident medical doctor now and my schedule does not allow me to participate the Skype sessions, but am very happy to see the program expanding. The Ashita programs represent the goals of this organization, which include sharing ideas and cultures, and gaining strength and inspiration from others. With these aims, I see great potential for further expansion in new directions, too. Because Ashita encourages creativity, proactive attitudes, and dynamic thinking, I am looking forward to see this organization expand its reach and build future leaders in Japan and the world.

A message from Mr. Hideo Komatsu, English teacher at Kesennuma High School
Since the 2011 disaster, with the support of NPO Ashita-Tomorrow, Kesennuma High School has had Skype-based sessions with American students. In the first 2011, only five students participated due to the insufficient Internet environment at the school. Now, about twenty students signed up. The school had to find another classroom to accommodate all the participants. This year, we improved the environment for the Skype sessions (more classrooms, limiting the maximum number of students), so the students enjoy weekly exchange with their counterparts in the U.S. The sessions greatly motivate the Kesennuma students in their efforts to study English. Also the students develop better understanding of various ways of thinking and gain wider perspectives on the world outside of Japan.

A message from Ms.Kaori Ishiyama, Director of academic affairs of special academic advancement course at Sendai Ikuei Gakuen High School
For years Sendai Ikuei Gakuen High School joined the Ashita-Tomorrow program. We sent several students to Express Yourself! Workshop at Horace Mann School in summer.

In October, many students started participating in the Ashita-Tomorrow Skype Session. The students are doing their best in communicating in English with the American students. Our students learn the American daily life, culture and school system. Some students are interested in attending American universities, and happy to receive valuable advices from their American partners.
We are grateful for Ashita-Tomorrow for giving our students these great experiences.

Watch students enjoy the Skype sessions FB
Meet a few of our Skype session volunteers
Meet the Students

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