Empowering the Next Generation of Japanese Leaders

Yanai Scholars, Stanford e-Japan alumni, and EducationUSA representatives highlight a special session for the Spring 2022 Stanford e-Japan students.
collage of Japanese students Participating students (clockwise from top left): Ryusei Best Hayashi, Anna Matsumoto, Ayano Shirakawa, Keilyn Tai, Hannah Tauchi

In 2015, SPICE launched Stanford e-Japan, an online course for high school students in Japan that is generously supported by the Yanai Tadashi Foundation, Tokyo, Japan. The two key objectives of Stanford e-Japan are to introduce the students to U.S.–Japan relations and to also encourage the students to consider studying in the United States. Since then, many Stanford e-Japan alumni have spent time or are spending time studying at U.S. colleges as exchange students and as four-year undergraduates. The two Stanford e-Japan instructors are Waka Brown (spring course) and Meiko Kotani (fall course). On May 13, 2022, Brown organized and facilitated a session that introduced her students to opportunities to study abroad.

The session began with comments by Chizuru Sasada, Senior EducationUSA Advisor of Fulbright Japan; Vincent Flores, EducationUSA Regional Educational Advising Coordinator for Northeast Asia and the Pacific; and Kaede Ishidate, an intern at EducationUSA and student at Harvard University. EducationUSA is a U.S. Department of State network of international student advising centers in many countries and territories that provides free advice and comprehensive information to prospective students wishing to study at U.S. colleges and universities. Sasada and Flores offered advice on studying abroad and noted, “There’s nothing like ‘being there!’” and fielded questions from the Stanford e-Japan students on topics such as college application essays, balancing extracurricular activities, and letters of recommendation.

After the comments by Sasada, Flores, and Ishidate, the Stanford e-Japan students were offered the opportunity to meet with Japanese students who are currently studying at colleges abroad in breakout groups. The breakout groups were led by the following college students:

  • Ryusei Best Hayashi (University of California, Berkeley) is majoring in Business Administration and Political Science and was a participant in the Stanford e-Japan Spring 2020 course. He is half-Mexican and half-Japanese, and was born in Mexico. He studied at Aoba-Japan International School, Tokyo.
  • Anna Matsumoto (Stanford University) is studying Mechanical Engineering. She is a Yanai Tadashi Scholar and is from Tokushima, Japan. She attended Tokushima Bunri High School, Tokushima. The New York Times featured her in an article in 2021.
  • Ayano Shirakawa (University of British Columbia, Canada) participated in the Stanford e-Japan Spring 2019 course and is studying at UBC Sauder School of Business majoring in Commerce and minoring in Law & Society. She was born and raised in Kobe, Japan, and attended the Canadian Academy.
  • Keilyn Tai (Brigham Young University) grew up in Hong Kong before moving to Japan to attend high school at Shibuya Makuhari Senior High School, Chiba, Japan. She participated in the Stanford e-Japan Fall 2020 course. She is considering Computer Science as a major.
  • Hannah Tauchi (University of California, San Diego) is majoring in Bioengineering with a focus on biotechnology. She participated in the Stanford e-Japan Spring 2017 course and was a student at Futaba High School, Tokyo. She is a Yanai Tadashi Scholar.

Reflecting on the breakout sessions, the Stanford e-Japan students shared takeaways from their discussions about the college admission process. These included:

In closing, Brown underscored the importance of the takeaways, encouraged her students to explore new opportunities, and also reassured them that it is okay if they as high school students do not yet know what they want to do in their lives. She also noted the importance of a good “college fit.” Reflecting upon the session, she noted, “I am so grateful to Sasada-san, Vincent, Kaede, the Yanai Scholars, and Stanford e-Japan alumni for the insight that they provided my students. I wish that I had such invaluable advice when I was a high school student.”

kaede ishidate
Reflecting on the session, Ishidate noted, “I was very impressed by the students from the Stanford e-Japan program who were all highly motivated and eager to ask questions about study abroad opportunities in the U.S. It was encouraging to see that they have access to the right resources and even more, that they have the mindset to expand their horizons and pursue their goals. While I was only able to speak with them for a short amount of time, I myself felt inspired by the students to continue my own academic journey!”

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