Stanford e-Sendai Ikuei Reflections
Stanford e-Sendai Ikuei introduces students to the topics of diversity, global citizenship, and entrepreneurship.
Launched in summer 2022, Stanford e-Sendai Ikuei is a collaborative course between the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE) and Sendai Ikuei Gakuen High School. The program offers Sendai Ikuei Gakuen High School students the opportunity to develop their English and critical thinking skills while examining their roles on a global scale. Stanford e-Sendai Ikuei is one of SPICE’s local student programs in Japan.
On October 28, I had the privilege of travelling to Sendai, Japan to attend the closing ceremony for the 2022 inaugural class of Stanford e-Sendai Ikuei. The trip was a precious opportunity to meet the students in-person for the first time, after five months of learning together over Zoom. While there, I considered the educational journey the students had taken that led up to this moment of accomplishment.
Stanford e-Sendai Ikuei was designed to challenge students to examine the world from new perspectives as they consider their own role on the global stage. To this end, the class was structured into three main topics: diversity, global citizenship, and entrepreneurship.
For the first topic, students examined diversity through the framework of the United States’ history of immigration and richly diverse population. Guided by guest speakers, the class engaged in thoughtful conversations on why stereotypes take root and how biases grow through systemic oppression. Students analyzed the work done by change makers and activists in the pursuit of inclusion and equity. Finally, students were able to reflect on the concept of identity and contemplate what their unique perspectives bring to the table.
In the second section of the program, students applied their self-reflections and understanding of diversity to discussions on what it means to be a global citizen. Lessons focused on establishing a general understanding of global issues and international collaboration and encouraged students to consider the global issues they hold important. Invited guest speakers generously shared their personal journeys of finding their passions to exemplify how the students might engage with global issues on a local and grassroots scale.
After feeling a bit overwhelmed by the weight of the world, students were eager to understand how to make these problems approachable. In our final unit on entrepreneurship, the class explored how Silicon Valley entrepreneurs applied a growth mindset—which normalizes and embraces failure to achieve success—to stay innovative and reach for new solutions. Students practiced their own innovation skills through Design Thinking and learned how to collaborate as a team to create stronger ideas. Lastly, the students considered how to take care of their mental health and well-being as they pursue their goals through practicing mindfulness and finding supports.
The program culminated in a final research project where students had the opportunity to take a turn in the instructor’s seat and teach the class about the issues that sparked their passion and curiosity. With a 3–5 minute presentation written and delivered in English, students challenged themselves to apply the communication skills, analysis, and self-reflection they had practiced throughout the course. They rose to the challenge with determination and compassion.
During the in-person closing ceremony, students came up one by one to share their reflections and lessons learned. Many of their statements echoed a similar tune—a confession of a nervous and intimidated mindset at the outset of the program, a desire to push themselves in order to broaden their skills and perspectives, and a goal to continue their learning journeys with empathy as their guide. Hearing the inaugural class’s conviction and sense of growth, I am grateful to have been a part of their education as young leaders, and I look forward to seeing where their curiosity takes them next.
I am enormously grateful to all of the Stanford e-Sendai Ikuei guest speakers for their shared knowledge, experience, and mentorship:
- Esther Priscilla Ebuehi, Birth Equity Analyst, Cherished Futures for Black Moms & Babies
- Kenji Harsch, Associate Clinical Social Worker, Fred Finch Youth & Family Services
- Makiko Hirata, Professional Pianist and SPICE Instructor
- Rebecca Jennison, Professor, Kyoto Seika University
- Sukemasa Kabeyama, Co-Founder and CEO, Uplift Labs
- Gary Mukai, Director, SPICE
- Jennifer Teeter, Lecturer, Kyoto Seika University
- Samanta Vásquez, Social Worker, Office of Refugee Resettlement
- Sam Yee, Senior Program Coordinator, GPI US, and the GPI US Design Team
I would like to give a special thank you to Principal Takehiko Katoh, the Sendai Ikuei Gakuen High School staff, and my partner coordinator at Sendai Ikuei Gakuen Rina Imagawa for their endless support and assistance to make this course possible.