The Reischauer Scholars Program and BEYOND Tomorrow: cultivating future leaders on both sides of the Pacific

japan day group photo bt

In a message to an audience comprised of Japanese Consulate representatives, Stanford faculty and staff, and Bay Area community members, Executive Director Minami Tsubouchi noted that Tokyo-based BEYOND Tomorrow was established to support the young victims who, despite facing great adversity from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, did not lose hope and continue to embrace a dream to give back to society in the future. Tsubouchi was followed by two small-group presentations by 12 high school and college student delegates from BEYOND Tomorrow.

One of the delegates, Masahide Chiba, Ofunato City, Iwate Prefecture, spoke about losing his mother and grandmother yet expressed his dreams for helping to rebuild Ofunato and other cities in the Tohoku region of Japan. Chiba is one of two students who are featured in a documentary, After the Darkness, being produced by Naomi Funahashi, Reischauer Scholars Program (RSP) Manager and Instructor, SPICE, and award-winning filmmaker, Risa Morimoto, Edgewood Pictures, of New York City.

Dr. Michael H. Armacost, former U.S. Ambassador to Japan, noted, “Programs such as BEYOND Tomorrow are invaluable to Japan’s post-3/11 recovery. They provide a platform for both future generation leaders to develop a deeper understanding of U.S.–Japan relations on a grassroots level. The students’ stories sharing their grief and their hope were truly inspiring.”

This trans-Pacific gathering took place at SPICE’s annual Japan Day, which this year was scheduled to coincide with the delegates’ trip to the United States. During Japan Day, SPICE also recognized top high school scholars of the RSP, an online course on Japan. The BEYOND Tomorrow delegates mingled with other attendees, including RSP honorees David Chao and Kaylyn Cheape, RSP alumni, and distinguished RSP advisory committee members Ambassador Michael Armacost (Shorenstein Distinguished Fellow, Shorenstein APARC); Professor Emeritus Daniel I. Okimoto and Professor Phillip Lipscy, both of Stanford; and Professor Emeritus Nisuke Ando, Doshisha University and Kyoto University. Ando made the trip from Kyoto to Stanford for Japan Day.

Following the event, RSP and Stanford alumnus, Sekhar Paladugu, guided the delegates on a campus tour. Reflecting on the day, Gary Mukai, SPICE Director, commented, “The RSP and BEYOND Tomorrow both share the objective of cultivating future leaders. It has long been Naomi’s and my hope to bring youth together from both sides of the Pacific with hopes that an international community of students will be formed amongst them. Today was one of the highlights of my 25 years at Stanford University.”

Photo credit: Tomoyuki Sowa

After their stay in the Bay Area, the delegates flew to New York to give additional presentations and simply to experience life on the East Coast. There they attended a barbeque in Sleepy Hollow with David Janes, Director of Foundation Grants and Assistant to the President, United States-Japan Foundation, one of the supporting organizations of BEYOND Tomorrow and the original funding organization of the RSP. It was a chance to provide an opportunity for the students to interact with a diverse group of Americans and Japanese in a relaxed atmosphere and to see a historic part of the Hudson River Valley. Janes commented, “I was deeply inspired by the courage of the students to share their stories with us and moved by their embrace of life despite the tragedies they have each experienced.”

The Center for Global Partnership, the Japan Foundation, is the current primary funding organization of the RSP.