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Off to the Land of the Rising Sun

By: Caroline Cruz

After checking in their heavy luggage, having their passport checked and then rechecked, sending their shoes and belongings through security, connecting to airplane Wi-Fi for 13 hours, eating food that comes in pre-packaged boxes, squeezing through the aisle to go to the bathroom, having the pilot come on the intercom and announce that they will begin their descend into Tokyo where the weather is around 65 degrees with 0% chance of rain, these young adults will finally be ready to embark on their global adventure in the land of the rising sun.

The Kakehashi Project is a nine-day, all-expense-paid, biyearly trip to Tokyo and one other Japanese city that is coordinated by the Japanese International Cooperation Center and the Japanese American Citizens League. The Project is also funded by the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Young adults between the ages of 18 and 25, that are either currently enrolled college students or young professionals can participate in the program. During their time in Japan, the group will visit historical and educational sites while also participating in lectures and workshops. Each day of the trip consists of a full schedule from the time the participants wake up until the time they go to bed.

The Japanese American Citizens League and the Japanese International Cooperation Center recognize the importance of creating future leaders in the Asian Pacific Islander community. In order to be successful in meeting their goal, they create programs, such as the Kakehashi Project, that hone leadership skills. The Kakehashi Project’s purpose is to promote a mutual understanding among the people of Japan and the United States with the intent to build a foundation for future friendship. With the hope that American students will communicate what they learn to other, it functions to give Americans unique insight into Japan’s culture, history and economy. At the end of the trip, participants are given the opportunity to speak about their experiences.

This spring, sophomore, Erica Carlson, a finance and economics student at The Ohio State University, will be partaking in the Kakehashi Project. As a Business Scholar, Carlson learned about the opportunity from an email sent by The Ohio State University, promoting the experience.

“I was really interested in a study abroad that focuses on culture and economics rather than a typical study abroad in which I would have to take classes,” Carlson shares.

Since the trip is only a month away, Carlson’s excitement has been growing. “I am excited to explore Tokyo and experience authentic Japanese culture and cuisine.”

As Japan becomes a growing force in the world economy, the Kakehashi Project provides the opportunity for young adults to enhance their cross-cultural understanding. Young adults that are accepted and decide to participate in the Kakehashi Project will be saying goodbye America and konichiwa Japan.