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Honoring high school students from both sides of the Pacific

The Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE) honored top students of the 2016 Reischauer Scholars Program (RSP) and Stanford e-Japan (Spring Session) at “Japan–U.S. Day”—an event held at Stanford University on August 9, 2016. The RSP honorees were Pierce Lowary (Highland Park High School, Dallas, Texas), Sarah Ohta (Polytechnic High School, Pasadena, California), and Risako Yang (Castilleja School, Palo Alto, California), and the Stanford e-Japan honorees were Miyu Hayashi (Takada High School, Mie Prefecture) and Minoru Takeuchi (Senior High School at Otsuka, University of Tsukuba, Tokyo).

Japan–U.S. Day began with opening remarks by the Honorable Jun Yamada, Consul General of Japan in San Francisco. Praising the honorees and their fellow students for their dedication to the study of U.S.–Japan relations, Consul General Yamada noted, “The U.S.–Japan relationship is the most important bilateral relationship in the world today,” and underscored the importance of programs such as the RSP and Stanford e-Japan in engaging youth in the study of this critical relationship.

Stanford e-Japan Instructor Waka Takahashi Brown and RSP Instructor Naomi Funahashi presented overviews of the two programs to the audience of over 50 people, which included Ambassador Michael Armacost (former U.S. Ambassador to Japan), Consul Akira Ichioka (Director, Japan Information and Cultural Center, Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco), Professor Indra Levy (Stanford University), Professor Emeritus Daniel Okimoto (Stanford University), and Maiko Tamagawa (Advisor for Educational Affairs, Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco).

The students were recognized by Brown and Funahashi for their overall coursework performance, which included research essays. They articulately presented their research that focused on topics ranging from legacies of World War II and security issues to urban planning in Japan, longevity, and non-profit organizations, and they adroitly addressed questions from the audience.

This year marked the first time that a joint RSP/Stanford e-Japan event was held to honor students. Reflecting on the event, Funahashi commented, “It was a great opportunity to recognize the impressive work of young U.S.–Japan scholars. And seeing them engage in cross-cultural dialogue in person after months of online interaction was a real treat.” Brown agreed, adding, “For my students, having the opportunity to interact with peers from the United States was one of the highlights of the program. To see all the RSP and Stanford e-Japan award winners honored at the same event was extremely rewarding and gave me great hope for the future of U.S.–Japan relations.” The audience seemed to feel similarly. “It was wonderful seeing the American and Japanese students interact with one another,” said Ambassador Armacost. “Their remarks were thoughtful and articulate. It was a model of timely educational exchange.”

SPICE has received numerous grants in support of the RSP (since its inception in 2003) from the United States-Japan Foundation, the Center for Global Partnership (The Japan Foundation), and the Japan Fund, which is administered by the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. Stanford e-Japan (since its inception in 2015) has been supported by a grant from the United States-Japan Foundation.