CUNY Kakehashi - Bridge for Tomorrow Project

About the CUNY Kakehashi project

Kakehashi - Bridge for Tomorrow and Youth Exchange Program with North America is a new initiative by the Japan Foundation's Center for Global Partnership (CGP), which provides for a fully funded 10-day study tour to Japan. CUNY (Host campus: LaGuardia CC) was selected as one of the participating schools in the U.S.

The purpose of the program is to encourage greater understanding between the youth of Japan and the United States and to foster long-term and ongoing interest in one another by providing firsthand experiences with the culture of the other. The theme of the trip is "Cool Japan" and encompasses three aspects of Japanese culture; that is, pop-culture, food, and tourism.

The CUNY JENESYS2.0/Kakehashi include:

  • Roundtrip air transportation
  • Surface travel to and from the international airports and accommodations in Japan.
  • All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) as per tour itinerary.
  • All train and bus travel expenses as per tour itinerary.
  • All entrance fees to special attractions as per tour itinerary.
  • Orientation session upon arrival in Japan.
  • Travel insurance subsidy.
  • Study tours and site visit/study tour.
  • A homestay experience with a Japanese family.
  • Visits to a Japanese school.
  • An escort to accompany the school group throughout this experience
  • Note: Participants will need approximately $20-30 per day to cover their personal expenses that are not covered by the program.


  1. The participant must be matriculated at an accredited CUNY college or university and enrolled at the time of application.
  2. The participant must be at least 18 years old.
  3. The participant must be a US citizen or a green card holder (as long as appropriate visas and documentation to travel to Japan are provided).
  4. The participant must have an overall GPA of 3.0 or above.
  5. The participant must have completed 12 college credits before Spring 2013 (24 credits or above are preferred)
  6. The participant must have no history of behavior infractions as of the past three years as identified by the campus security.
  7. The participant will submit a medical clearance to travel abroad, including all necessary immunizations, and a recent statement of medical health upon request.
  8. The participant's family should be able to promise to accept at least one student from Japan at their home ("homestay") for three days some time in 2013 (Date TBD)
  9. The participant should be able to provide a written plan as to how to make up for missing classes/exams during this trip. The written plan must be signed by the instructor of each class and by the campus liaison.
  10. The participant must present a valid passport and, if necessary, a visa to Japan by the April 22nd, 2013.
  11. The participant must be interviewed by the campus liaison for the CUNY JENESYS2.0 project and the LaGuardia campus liaison as needed.
  12. The participant must submit at least one (preferably two) letters of reference.
  13. The participant must familiarize themselves and comply with all LAGCC college policies, including, for example, the LAGCC student code of conduct.
  14. The campus liaison for the CUNY JENESYS2.0 project of the participant's home campus may add further requirements as appropriate.

How to apply

You must complete both the CUNY JENESYS2.0 Application Form Part I ( and the CUNY JENESYS2.0 Application Form Part II. The deadline for the application is Wednesday, April 17. For more information, visit the CUNY JENESYS2.0 website at


Prof. Tomonori Nagano
Director of CUNY Kakehashi project
LaGuardia Community College, CUNY
31-10 Thomson Avenue (B-234FF)
Long Island City New York 11101
Tel: 718-482-5484 /

CUNY Kakehashi - Bridge for Tomorrow Orientations

  • Pre-departure Orientation 1
    Saturday, April 27, 11am-2pm @ E-501 (LaGuardia Community College)

  • Chaperones' Orientation
    Wednesday, May 8, 1pm-3pm @ LaGCC Room M-401 (LaGuardia Community College)

  • Pre-departure Orientation 2
    Saturday, May 11, 11am-2pm @ E-501 (LaGuardia Community College)

  • Pre-departure Ceremony
    Wednesday, May 15, 6pm- @ E-111 (LaGuardia Community College)

CUNY Kakehashi - Bridge for Tomorrow Itinerary

Time in Tokyo:

  • Monday, May 20, 2013
    - NH1009 New York (JFK)/Narita (NRT) 18:05/21:00+1 (5/21) (Airport meet-up place )

  • Tuesday, May 21, 2013
    - 9:00pm Arrive in Narita International Airport
    - Transfer to hotel by bus
    - 11:30pm Shinjuku Prince Hotel
    - Shinjuku Prince Hotel (homepage | 1-30-1 Kabuki-cho, Shinjuku Tokyo, 160-8487 | +81-(0)3-3205-1111)

  • Wednesday, May 22, 2013
    - 7:00am Breakfast
    - 8:10am Meet Escort guide (Mr. Kunihiko Inadome (Group 1) and Ms. Akiko Kajihara (Group 2))
    - 8:20am Depart Hotel
    - 8:40am Arrive at National Olympics Memorial Youth Center (URL)
    - 9:00-12:10pm Orientation: National Olympics Memorial Youth Center Central Building 416
    - 12:10-1:10pm Lunch (Cafeteria at National Olympics Memorial Youth Center)
    - 1:10-1:40pm Group Meeting
    - 2:40-4:10pm Tokyo National Museum (URL)
    - 4:25-5:10pm Kappabashi Dougu Street (URL)
    - 5:25-6:30pm Asakusa Kannon Temple with its Nakamise Arcade (URL)
    - 6:30-7:30pm Dinner (Asakusa)
    - 8:45pm Return to Hotel
    - Shinjuku Prince Hotel (homepage | 1-30-1 Kabuki-cho, Shinjuku Tokyo, 160-8487 | +81-(0)3-3205-1111)

  • Thursday, May 23, 2013
    - 7:00am Breakfast and checkout
    - 8:20am Meet Escort guide
    - 9:20am Nozomi 217 Tokyo/Kyoto (11:38am) (URL)
    - Lunch in Bus
    - 1:00-2:30pm Visit to Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts to learn about Kyoto's traditional industry (URL)
    - Move to Heian Jingu Shrine (URL)
    - 2:45-3:30pm Group Activity
    - 3:30-5:15pm Exchange with local people at Kyoto SGG Club, visit to historical places
    - CUNY Participants Reflection Meeting (1 hour)
    - Hotel Boston Plaza Kusatsu (homepage | 1-27 Nishioji Kusatsu, Shiga, 525-0037 | +81-(0)77-561-3311)

  • Friday, May 24, 2013
    - 6:45am Breakfast
    - 7:30am Meet Escort guide
    - 9:30-11:40am Visit to Japanese-language Institute, the Japan Foundation
    - Rakugo (Japanese comedy story) in English (arranging) (URL)
    - 1:30pm- Exchange program with Doshisha University
    - Hotel Boston Plaza Kusatsu (homepage | 1-27 Nishioji Kusatsu, Shiga, 525-0037 | +81-(0)77-561-3311)

  • Saturday, May 25, 2013
    - 7:50am Breakfast
    - 8:35am Meet Escort Guide
    - Visit to Shimadzu to learn about the high technology of Japan
    - Afternoon Visit to Kyoto International Manga Museum (arranging) (URL)
    - New Miyako Hotel (homepage | 17, Nishikujo-Inmachi Minami-ku, Kyoto 601-8412 | +81-(0)75-661-7111)

  • Sunday, May 26, 2013
    - 8:00am Breakfast
    - 9:00am Meet Escort guide
    - Visit to historical places (Kinkakuji Temple etc) (URL)
    - 12:00-1:00pm Visit to Kiyomizudera Temple, Lunch (URL)
    - 3:00-4:30pm Fushimi Inari Shrine (URL)
    - CUNY Participants Reflection Meeting (1 hour)
    - New Miyako Hotel (homepage | 17, Nishikujo-Inmachi Minami-ku, Kyoto 601-8412 | +81-(0)75-661-7111)

  • Monday, May 27, 2013
    - 7:40am Breakfast and checkout
    - 8:30am Meet Escourt guide
    - 9:45am- Visit to Kyoto Prefectural Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Technology Center to learn about local industry (cultivation of tea)
    - 2:32pm Nozomi 130 Kyoto/Tokyo (4:53pm) (URL)
    - Shinjuku Prince Hotel (homepage | 1-30-1 Kabuki-cho, Shinjuku Tokyo, 160-8487 | +81-(0)3-3205-1111)

  • Tuesday, May 28, 2013
    - 8:30am Leave Hotel
    - 8:50-9:50am Meiji Jingu Shrine (URL)
    - 10:00-12:00 Visit Harajuku (URL)
    - 12:00-1:00pm Lunch
    - 2:00-3:00pm Kabukiza Theater Gallery (URL)
    - 2:30-4:00pm Visit to Akihabara (URL)
    - 6:00pm Return to Hotel
    - 7:00-8:00pm Dinner
    - Shinjuku Prince Hotel (homepage | 1-30-1 Kabuki-cho, Shinjuku Tokyo, 160-8487 | +81-(0)3-3205-1111)

  • Wednesday, May 29, 2013
    - 7:00am Breakfast
    - 8:50am Meet Escort guide
    - 9:00am Leave Hotel
    - 9:30-10:30am Lecture/Demonstration of Japanese traditional dance (Sakura Hall, JF) (URL)
    - Lunch in Bus
    - 1:00-3:00pm Visit to Chuo University
    - 4:30pm Arrive at Kosai Kaikan
    - 5:00-6:30pm Debriefing at Kosai Kaikan
    - 7:00-8:00pm Dinner
    - 8:15pm Return to Hotel
    - Shinjuku Prince Hotel (homepage | 1-30-1 Kabuki-cho, Shinjuku Tokyo, 160-8487 | +81-(0)3-3205-1111)

  • Thursday, May 30, 2013
    - 7:00am Breakfast and checkout
    - 11:45am Meet Escourt guide
    Leave hotel
    - Lunch
    - 1:10pm Leave Hotel
    - 4:40pm NH1010 Narita (NRT)/New York (JFK) 4:25pm

CUNY Kakehashi - Bridge for Tomorrow Campus Liaisons

Project Director

  • Prof. Tomonori Nagano
    Director of CUNY Kakehashi project
    LaGuardia Community College, CUNY
    31-10 Thomson Avenue (B-234FF)
    Long Island City New York 11101
    Tel: 718-482-5484 /

Campus Liaisons

If you have any questions, please contact one of the liaisons for the CUNY JENESYS2.0/Kakehashi on the following CUNY campuses.

  • Prof. Mari Fujimoto, Queens College, CUNY
    718-997-5570 /

  • Prof. Richard Calichman, The City College, CUNY
    212-650-6731 /

  • Prof. Cary Karacas, CSI, CUNY
    718-982-2890 /

  • Profs. Sue Kawashima & Kazue Kurahara, Hunter, CUNY
    212-772-5064 /
    212-772-4787 /

  • Prof. CJ (Shige) Suzuki, Baruch College, CUNY
    646-312-4235 /

  • Prof. Keiko Miyajima, John Jay College, CUNY
    646-312-4232 /

  • Prof. Asako Tochika, Lehman College, CUNY
    718-960-8858 /

  • Ms. Deborah Stengle, Medgar Evers College, CUNY
    718-270-5136 /

  • Prof. Tomonori Nagano, LaGuardia CC, CUNY
    718-482-5484 /

CUNY Kakehashi - Bridge for Tomorrow University visits

Doshisha University (Kyoto on Friday, May 24, 2013)

About Doshisha University (from Wikipedia): Doshisha University (同志社大学 Dōshisha daigaku?) Dodai (同大 Dōdai?) is a prestigious private university in Kyoto, Japan. Approximately 27,000 students take classes on three campuses, in faculties of theology, letters, law, commerce, economics, policy, and engineering. It also includes graduate programs of American studies, policy and management. The university maintains many international relations for research and exchange of students with American and French institutions, notably with the Harvard University, Princeton University, Stanford University, the groupe des Écoles Centrales, Sciences-Po Paris and the École supérieure de physique et de chimie industrielles de la ville de Paris. Doshisha was founded by an ex-samurai named Niijima Jō. Niijima left feudal Japan in 1864 when going abroad was illegal by Sakoku policy, at the age of twenty-one, and found his way to Boston, Massachusetts, where he attended Phillips Academy, Amherst College, and Andover Theological Seminary under the name Joseph Hardy Neesima. After he returned to a westernizing Japan in 1875, he founded Doshisha English School in Kyoto. Canadian Methodist missionary G. G. Cochran played a role in the establishment of Doshisha University, and his contribution to the improvement of Japan's educational system is considered an important episode in the early history of people of Japan-Canada relations. The institution took its present form in by incorporating a law school, normal school, and women's college. By 1920, Doshisha was a full-fledged university in the Anglo-American tradition. During World War II, its buildings were given Japanese names and its curriculum was stripped of its pro-Western elements, however the pre-war conditions were restored after Japan's surrender. Amherst College has maintained close ties with Doshisha since its founding. Amherst and Doshisha are considered sister schools and have had a long running student and faculty exchange program that was interrupted only by the Second World War. Additionally, Doshisha collaborates with a consortium of prestigious American liberal arts colleges (including Amherst) to host the Associated Kyoto Program, an 8-month long study abroad program offered every year to students of American colleges.

  • Gift exchange: Connie Huang, Nicolle Zielaskowski, and Kaycee-Ann Grant
  • Presentation on NYC/CUNY (2-3 min): Rhode-Elise St. Jacques and Joseph Bushman (slides )
  • Presentation on "What's 'Cool Japan' for us or for me?" (Group 1; 5min): Anjelica Camacho (slides )
  • Presentation on "What's 'Cool Japan' for us or for me?" (Group 2; 5min): Francesca Messina (slides )
  • See these short videos about "Cool Japan": 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Activity schedule at Doshisha University (download in PDF )

  • 1:20pm-: Arrive at Kanbai-kan (Kanbai Building)
  • 1:30pm-: Welcome (10 min; Shiko-kan Room SK112)
    • Welcome speech by Doshisha
    • Introduction about CUNY (Two students)
    • Introduction about Wisconsin-Madison
  • 1:40pm-: Introduction to Doshisha University (20 min; Shiko-kan Room SK112)
    • About ILA (Institute for the Liberal Arts)
    • Questions and Answers
    • Self-introduction by Doshisha students
  • 2:00pm-: Lecture (Old and New in Japan; 20 min; Shiko-kan Room SK112)
  • 2:20pm-: Campus tour (in small groups; 40 min)
  • 3:00pm-: Exchange activities (refreshments; 50 min; Shiko-kan SK Basement Lounge)
    • Presentation by 2 CUNY Groups on "What's 'Cool Japan' for us or for me?" (5 min each)
  • 4:00pm-: Group discussions (80 min; Shiko-kan SK Basement Lounge)
    • Self-introduction
    • Discussion on "Japanese traditions: What Japanese tradition should change and what should NOT change?"
  • 4:50pm-: Group presentations based on the group discussions (20 min)
  • 5:10pm-: Thank you remarks and photo taking (10 min)

Chuo University (Tokyo on Wednesday, May 29, 2013)

About Chuo University (from Wikipedia): Chuo University (中央大学 Chūō Daigaku?), literally Central University, is a private university in Tokyo, renowned for its law school. Chuo is one of the most prestigious schools in Japan. The University has four campuses at Tama (Hachiōji), at Korakuen[disambiguation needed], at Ichigaya (Shinjuku), and at Ichigaya-Tamachi (Shinjuku). Chuo University has six faculties, ten graduate schools, and nine research institutes. It also operates four high schools and two junior high schools. Chuo was founded as the English Law School (英吉利法律学校 Igirisu Hōritsu Gakkō?) in 1885 at Kanda in Tokyo by a group of lawyers. By 1889, the school had moved and been renamed Tokyo College of Law (Tokyo Hōgakuin). The curriculum was changed to reflect the government reform of Japanese law and creation of a new civil code. Opposition to the implementation of the new civil code resulted in the government shuttering of the campus journal and the subsequent creation of the Chuo Law Review (Hōgaku Shinpo), which has since been published regularly. The university burned down in the Great Kanda Fire of 1892, but was able to hold temporary classes. By 1903, the school had been promoted to Tokyo University of Law (Tokyo Hōgakuin Daigaku) and in 1905 the school expanded with a department of economics, renaming itself Chuo University. The origin of its name "Chuo" has not been certain. However, many founders of the university were once pupils of the Middle Temple, London, United Kingdom before they completed the training and qualified as Barrister. This is one of the reasons why the university renamed "Chuo", literally meaning Middle, Center, or Central.

  • Gift exchange: Amelie Spyro-Mrazek, Malgorzata Sekowska, Xinjun Ye, and Ying Cui
  • Thank-you speech: Adrian Machuca and Erin King
  • Presentation on NYC/CUNY (in 5 small groups; 10 min): Veronica Shi, Matia Jaysura, Jenna Jankowski, Cassandra Fegert and Elizabeth Che (slides )

Activity schedule at Chuo University (download in PDF )

  • 1:00pm: Arrival
    • Arrive at Chuo Univeristy; Move to classrooms (5 min)
  • 1:10pm-1:25pm: Everyone
    • MC: Prof. Komuro. Participants: About 5 Chuo students from each of the 5 classes, 46 CUNY students, 4 Chaperones, 8 Chuo faculty, some staff members
    • Speech by Vice President Shigenori Wakabayashi (or Dean Ryoji Kasai) (2 min)
    • Speech by 2-3 CUNY student representatives (3-5 min)
    • Speech by 2-3 Chuo student representatives (Prof. Kurihara's students; 3-5 min)
  • 1:25pm-1:30pm
    • Move from Room 3355 to each classroom
  • 1:30pm-2:30pm
    • Exchange activities in each classroom
  • 1:30pm-2:30pm (in about 5 small groups)
    • MC: Instructor of each class (Prof. Chiyo Tanaka (23 students), Prof. Naoko Masuda (18 students), Prof. Ayako Sudo (16 students), Prof. Minako Sunaga (20 students), Prof. Fumiko Kurihara (20 students))
    • (1) Introduction to US, NY, and CUNY by CUNY students (10 min)
    • (1b) Q&A (?)
    • (2) Exchange activities (about 50 min) Group discussion on Japanese culture, Japanese pop-culture, Japanese society etc.
    • (3) Gift exchange (5 min)
  • 2:40pm-3:00pm (all groups together)
    • Photo taking
  • 3:00pm
    • Leave Chuo University

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CUNY Kakehashi - Bridge for Tomorrow Participants' Reflections

CUNY Kakehashi Groups

  • Group 1
    • Participants: Baruch (5 students), LaGuardia (8 students), John Jay (4 students), City (2 students), Hunter (3 students), Medgar Evers (1 student)
    • Chaperones: Dr. Ann Feibel and Dr. Michael Napolitano
    • Guide: Mr. Kunihiko Inadome
  • Group 2
    • Participants: CSI (11 students), Lehman (6 students), and Queens (6 students)
    • Chaperones: Dr. Deborah E. Popper and Dr. Bernard A. Polnariev
    • Guide: Ms. Akiko Kajihara

CUNY Kakehashi Participants' post-trip reflections

Tomonori Nagano (Program Director / LaGuardia Community College)

Click on photos to see their descriptions.

In "Kakehashi - Bridge for Tomorrow" the Youth Exchange Program with North America, forty-six CUNY students and four faculty chaperones took a fully-funded trip to Tokyo and Kyoto and two prestigious universities in Japan. We were selected as a one of the participating colleges of this project by the Japanese government and the Consulate General of Japan in New York. In the CUNY Kakehashi project, I served as a director and made logistic arrangements for the trip.

I'm so delighted that the consulate general has chosen CUNY, especially LaGuardia Community College as a host college, because without such a generous gift many of our students would not be able to make such a wonderful trip to Japan. This gift really overlapped with my own experience when I was a college student. Like many of our students at LaGuardia, I was the very first person who attended college in my family and I thought that I could never afford to travel overseas during my college time. It was simply too much of a luxury for someone who was just able to make both ends meet every day.

One day, however, my best friend from high school, who had decided to move out to Los Angeles, invited me to his new home in LA. I was twenty-one and had never travelled far. The longest trip that I had made then was to my mother's hometown, which was just about 350 miles from my apartment. I never dreamed about going to the U.S. until I received his invitation. I packed my bag and flew to LA with the cheapest ticket I was able to find in the summer of 1997. We travelled around California for two weeks. Sadly my memory of the trip has become sketchy after almost 20 years, but I still remember that it was the most precious experience of my college life. Many years after, I decided to come to the U.S. again to study linguistics and ended up spending a significant amount of my time here. I have no idea where I came up with the idea of studying linguistics in the U.S., but in retrospect, my experience in California definitely weighed in on my life decision.

I hope that all of the forty-six CUNY Kakehashi participants have gained something as valuable as I did when I was twenty-one. The only regret I have about my trip is that I didn't keep a travel journal and I have forgotten so much about it now. I hope that you will take this opportunity to write down your experiences and memories and come back to them some day in the future.

Miamichelle Abad (Lehman College)

Click on photos to see their descriptions.

How did your participation in the Kakehashi Project affect you?

My participation in the Kakehashi project has forever changed my life. This program made it possible for me to see another side of the world that I never thought would be possible. I was able to witness Japan's way of life and take a peek into the wonders of Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. I felt very connected to nature during our stay in Kyoto and the atmosphere of the ancient capital raised my awareness for the well being of our planet. It is evident that Japan strives to preserve its past just as much as it works hard to innovate and improve their technology and society as a whole. I'm fascinated at how Japan fights to protect the legacy of their ancestors and incorporates old methods into new ideas for the future. It has given me a wider perspective on life in general and I'm really looking forward to the day when I return to Japan, because 10 days wasn't enough for any of us I'm sure. Japan has a lot to offer and their attention to every aspect of life, even wrapping your purchased goods or always greeting you when you walk in a store is really humbling. Not only did I meet new friends in Japan, but I formed new friendships within the group of CUNY students I was traveling with. My expectations of Japan were surpassed in every way since I knew it was going to be a great trip, but little did I know that it would be even better than I could ever imagine. I definitely intend to continue my 'Kakehashi' in Japan by keeping in touch with the students we've met in both Doshisha and Chuo University.

How has it changed your goals and/or plans for the future?

The 'Kakehashi' we created in 2013 at Japan has inspired me to pursue a minor in Japanese and continue to learn more about the culture.Before this trip I was unsure about certain projects I might want to take on in the future, such as the Jet Program, but now I'm sure. I've always loved working with children and the Jet Program combines teaching and language into one continuous experience that I look forward to being a part of someday. I can never thank you all enough for my first trip abroad. It was truly priceless and I will always remember the gratitude of Japan.

Jose Andres Arcos (John Jay College of Criminal Justice)

Click on photos to see their descriptions.

How did your participation in the Kakehashi Project affect you?

I believe my participation in the program gave me the Kakehashi experience. Having the opportunity to visit Japan gave me a greater understanding and a positive insight of what Japan is really like outside of American textbooks and online resources. During my time in Japan, the Japanese culture and people affected me as I walked around museums, shrines and temples, technology centers and interacted with market vendors and most importantly students in Doshisha and Chuo University. What impacted me the most were the results of a survey by Japanese students. The three key aspects of what Japanese students wanted to read about in an anime were friendship, effort and perseverance, and winning and victory. Students are the worlds future leaders and these words portray a humble and empowering society. I noticed that the Japanese society is very community based and the success of one individual leads to the success of all. Moreover, I became friends with a handful of students while visiting Doshisha and Chuo University, but I connected the most with Eri Sawai because she is also majoring in Economics. We shared similar interests, views, goals, and ideas. In addition, my future goal is to learn the Japanese language and return to Japan to practice my advancement. Being given this opportunity has giving me the confidence to accept possible job opportunities in Japan.

Anthony Burgos (LaGuardia Community College)

Click on photos to see their descriptions.

How did your participation in the Kakehashi Project affect you?

I stayed in Japan from May 20th through May 30th for an exchange program with other CUNY students. In Japan I paid special attention to the functioning of their society. To my surprise, it was not only different from the United States, but vastly different from any other country to my knowledge. How their little world function is remarkable in that it completely works. My trip to Japan was remarkable for the culture shock that their norm is the closest thing to a Utopia. The law is a habit that all follows, thus enabling by far the safest streets to walk on at night. The humility just feels natural to them. It makes me question if whether they were nurtured to be nice, or they were born nice all along. The youth of Japan I find most surprising because of how they act. They act like adults early on and should therefore be treated as one I highly recommend anyone to visit if they can’t believe my own experience to be true. Japan’s society is an example of what a society ought to be. Nothing less, always more.

How has it changed your goals and/or plans for the future?

Since I am in a two-year college, I am always on the lookout for new schools to continue a four-year degree. After the visit with Doshisha University especially, I am interested in participating in their 4 year Liberal Arts Major. The school is highly appealing to those who speak little to no Japanese since they offer all courses for the major in English as well. If you would like to learn Japanese, the University also offers free language courses for the students as well. Therefore, it would be a great experience to relive the brief exposure to a great university such as Doshisha, but this time as a student among them.

Joseph Bushman (College of Staten Island) [hasn't submitted the report yet]

Click on photos to see their descriptions.

How did your participation in the Kakehashi Project affect you?

How has it changed your goals and/or plans for the future?

Anjelica Camacho (John Jay College of Criminal Justice)

Click on photos to see their descriptions.

How did your participation in the Kakehashi Project affect you?

In Japan I purchased a ring that said "Anjelica's Family" in Japanese. This ring sums up the affect that participating in this Kakehashi program had on me. During the orientations before leaving, I was actively establishing relationships with the participants MiaMichelle Abad, Max Cruz, Jorge Machu and Byron Vasquez. Once arriving to Japan my relationships tripled and soon Becky Cui, Connie Huang, Kari Yu, Paul Rodriquez, Johanna Go joined my Kazoku (Family). Together we explored Japan and the experiences we all shared in Japan made our bonds stronger. Some of those experiences included meeting Japanese students like QiaoSong Wong, Soutaro Jack Oda, Mio Kaneda, Naoto Oishi, Yuta Tanaka, Yamato Ueda, Kouta Kodama, Yuto Iino and Shiho Kurihara.

Mio Kaneda was the first Japanese student who came and spent time with us in Kyoto. She even spent the night with us at the hotel. Her commitment to hanging out and building relationships with us was touching and something I will never forget. We all invited her to come to NYC and we will be waiting. The next group of students that spent time with us in Shinjuku was Yamato Ueda, Kouta Kodama, Yuto Iino and Shiho Kurihara. They also quickly became a part of our Kazoku. We spent the night at Karaoke singing songs in Japanese, English and Spanish. It was a wonderful experience getting to know one another and just like Mio Kaneda the Japanese students stood over with us at the hotel. Connie and Kari gave up their room for Yamato Ueda, Kouta Kodama, Yuto Iino. Connie and Kari went to spend the night with another group of girls so that the boys could feel comfortable and have their own private space together. I gave up my bed to Shiho Kurihara and crashed in another kakehashi participates room so that she could have a bed to herself and just like that we ended the night like a family.

How has it changed your goals and/or plans for the future?

We built relationships with the Japanese students that we will never forget. Made memories with them and planned future dates with each other. We all agreed that if the Japanese students ever come to NYC they can stay with us and we would have the pleasure of showing them around NYC. Together we not only build a bridge but a family unit. Our new Japanese family agreed to come and visit us in NYC. We will be waiting. My participation in the Kakehashi project was a success because I became aware of the Japanese culture and build bridges with the Japanese students that will never be broken.

I always juggled with the thought of attending graduate school in Japan but I never fully committed to the idea because I had never travelled to Japan. Now that I have and had the opportunity to visit two campuses I will be applying to graduate schools in Japan. I do plan to return to Japan and if I'm able to live there and teach that would be another dream come true for me. I have one semester before graduating from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, so I will be looking into graduate school applications and possibly the JET program. This program has really opened some doors that I don't plan to close anytime soon.

Brian Caraveo (Lehman College)

Click on photos to see their descriptions.

How did your participation in the Kakehashi Project affect you?

My participation in the Kakehashi experience affected me in variety of ways: first, the people were very generous and respectful. An example would be how they receive and return money by using two hands and how they bow down to a customer. Secondly, their culture was really remarkable, with all the shrines and temples that really reflect their culture and religion. Finally, the modern society was more than what I expected. The modern society and the cultural society are balanced within the country and I was surprised by how they still preserved their tradition and culture in the new and advanced technological society.

How has it changed your goals and/or plans for the future?

The Kakehashi project has changed my goal and plans for the future. I really admire Japan and if there is a chance to work there, I would definitely move to this amazing country.

Elizabeth Che (College of Staten Island)

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Participation in the Kakehashi Project helped me develop a greater understanding of Japanese culture and the nation as a whole. Compared to my study abroad experience two years ago, the Kakehashi Project gave me the opportunity to visit shrines, museums, universities (Doshisha, and Chuo), and attend lectures (i.e., rakugo, and classical Japanese dance) that I would never have seen on my own. In addition, the ability to visit Japan while having everything already arranged and planned, allowed me to focus just on what I was experiencing and not have to worry about survival needs that I would normally be subjected to if it was an individual trip.

My goals for the future had always included the prospect of using Japanese culture as an inspiration because of the united, civil, advanced, and imaginative culture of Japan. For example, Japan's cleanliness, safety, and order (i.e., how there are vending machines and convenience stores around every few blocks, how public restrooms are well-maintained and available, how littering is rare, how you are acknowledged when passing by other people, or how bikes are left unlocked) far exceeds the American standard. This allows me to believe that there is hope that people can change to be disciplined and morally guided. Of course, it can't be generalized for everyone, but there is a possibility for any nation to be just as civil given the proper circumstances. Overall, this concept allows me to have a higher regard for humanity.

Participation in this project only furthered the inspiration that I had glimpsed at during my last trip. Throughout this trip, I had spent less time in the visited areas than I wished, and developed an urge to revisit Japan as soon as possible in order to learn and experience more of the places that I could not go to due to the lack of time. I found it more difficult to communicate in Japanese during this trip than when I was studying abroad (when I first started learning Japanese language), possibly because of vocabulary forgetfulness or dependence on the more advanced speakers around me. Thus, I have gained more determination to enhance my own self-studies of the Japanese written and spoken language to be prepared for my future revisit. I am also considering the Japan Exchange and Teaching program as a result of this trip because of the prospect of being able to engage with Japan on a different level; not that of a student taking a class taught in English, or a visitor on a tour, but as a professional who directly engages with a Japanese community and tries to make a difference. The Kakehashi Project allowed me to strengthen my understanding of Japanese culture while allowing me to question what I experienced and sparked an interest for more mutual interactions -- where both the individuals who are engaging with me, and I, have an equal opportunity to learn.

Jorden Cliff (LaGuardia Community College)

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The Kakehashi project affected me in multiple ways. I gained the opportunity for a test trial in Japan to see how it is and embrace culture as well as history on a daily basis. It hasn't changed my goals but instead increased my goal to move there and spend an extended amount of time in the country learning the language and embracing culture everywhere I can. Plans in the future would include living in Tokyo because after being able to compare Kyoto and Tokyo, I now notice that I definitely am a city type of person. I can't stand not being in the city for too long without losing my mind. I wish to spend more time in both places and still gain more experience on how Japanese life is.

A job I wish to obtain is to teach English to Japanese students whether it be children or university students and really enjoy it. I already help my Japanese friends with their English and get asked a variety of questions that make me even rethink how/why I know that the language is this way instead of what their asking. I pull through and was always very good with grammar so I believe I'm a very good candidate for this job, I also heard that there's a demand for English Language teachers in Japan so I shouldn't have too hard of a time finding this job there to sustain life for a while. It's one of my passions I wish to say I've done before.

All of the people that traveled everywhere during the Kakehashi project trip we became more than just friends. We became a family who supports and helps one another through all types of trials. We may have had little groups or little duos and trios but in the end, we all can get together and be in unison on the bus as friendly to another as the person we spent most of the trip with. I could've made some lifelong friends during this program and it only begins there, it's up to us to keep going and live on the friendship created in a faraway land named Japan.

Maxi Cruz (John Jay College of Criminal Justice)

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How did your participation in the Kakehashi Project affect you?

My participation in the Kakehashi Project was an amazing and life changing experience. I have always wished to visit Japan and this trip has given me a deeper understanding of the country and its people. What had once been an idealized dream has now become more tangible or grounded. Being able to interact with the students made it less foreign and much more relatable.

I can now say for certain that Japan is the place I want to live my life in. With that in mind I have decided to continue my education there. I've begun looking into universities with graduate programs dealing in my major. One of the schools we visited was Doshisha University. I'm making it my first choice as I loved the look and feel of the campus. They also happen to have a graduate program for Information and Computer Science students.

Ying Cui (Baruch College)

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My name is Becky (Ying Cui) from Baruch College. May 20, 2013 to May 30, 2013-this 10 days builds up one of the most amazing parts of my life. I was so fortunate to be selected as one of the participants in 'CUNY Kakehashi project' and thank you so much Japan Foundation's Center for Global Partnership (CGP) by giving me this chance. During this exciting ten days in Japan, I have experienced so many things that I have never experienced in my life before. There are so many interesting parts I have found during this trip.

Firstly, I love and respect how the small businesses run in Japan. Among so many mom and pop stores, there are various products that had been provided and not many of them are duplicated. At the same time, I found that small business owners treat their customers beyond nice. I remember when my friends and I went to a Deli store and trying to find something, the cashier was so kind, helpful and have a great manner to their customers. As the store doesn't provide the product that we were looking for, he even came out of the store and come along with us to find another convenient store.

Secondly, Japanese people do everything they can to preserve their original culture. Especially when we get to Kyoto, I felt as if I come to a city which is a mixture of both ancient and modern life. The rice field, the shrines, and also people who wear kimonos, which brings me back to the ancient period.

Lastly, I love how they make life easier for people and remind people with their own responsibility at the same time. As I walked along the street, it was really hard for me to find a garbage can. At the same time, people have to take their own responsibility by taking care of their own garbage. Besides that, vending machine is conveniently exhibited and police station is really easy to find.

Overall, this amazing trip is the foundation for my future. It makes our 'CUNY participants' friendship' much stronger. I'm so glad to tell everyone that I know about Japan and also keep in touch with new friends that I met in Japan to extend 'Kakehashi', to extend the bridge for tomorrow.

Cassandra Fegert (Queens College)

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How did your participation in the Kakehashi Project affect you?

I am truly grateful to have been a participant of the Kakehashi project. Observing Japan for the first time with my own eyes has undoubtedly increased my admiration for the country. I went in with the mindset of rupturing language and cultural barriers that may cause a rift in communication; however, not with the intention to dismiss it, but rather, embracing that of the Japanese language and culture, as well – to show respect and admiration and to immerse myself.

The Kakehashi project has helped me take another step towards my future wherein I have seen Japan with my own eyes – though not assimilation, I am now able to have an idea and understanding of the surrounds for the next time I go. My desire has always been to teach abroad – specifically, in Japan. After experiencing Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, I would much prefer to teach in the latter two. Tokyo is beautiful in its own rite; however, Kyoto and Osaka have more of the juxtaposition of aestheticism in its cosmopolitan streets and its preservation of nature and history that I am so interested in.

Visiting Japan has only further inspired me to continue my studies of the Japanese language (especially kanji!) and look into readings of its abundance of historical landmarks and infrastructures.

Michael Gigante (College of Staten Island) [hasn't submitted the report yet]

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How did your participation in the Kakehashi Project affect you?

How has it changed your goals and/or plans for the future?

Johanna Go (Baruch College)

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Hello, my name is Johanna Go. I am a student at Bernard M. Baruch College. I was one of several selected by both the U.S. and Japanese government to participate in the Kakehashi program. We experienced the culture and history of Japan for 10 days from May 20 to 30, 2013. I would like to thank the Japan Foundation, our host institution, for making this opportunity possible for all of us. Below are a few words about the trip.

First of all, I would like to thank my Japanese Professor, Miho Fujimori of Baruch College. Without her I would not have had a letter of reference to submit for the application. I also would like to thank both the U.S. and Japanese government for allowing me this opportunity to learn more about Japan 's culture and history through this trip. I am honored to have been a participant of the Kakehashi Project.

After experiencing a taste of what Japan has to offer, I feel the need to go back to learn more and further educate myself. We learned through the people how the Japanese are a community who seek to help others. The people are friendly and always eager to help out. Japan has moved me in a way I haven't been moved before. My eyes have been opened to the kindness and generosity of the Japanese people.

Even before I applied for the Kakehashi Project, I knew I wanted to travel to Japan. Now after leaving, I want to quickly apply for more Japan-related programs and keep learning the Japanese language. I do plan on studying abroad in Japan maybe sometime next year. This has been an amazing experience for me and I'm sure for everyone who attended. These memories we will cherish forever.

Kaycee-Ann Grant (Queens College)

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How did your participation in the Kakehashi Project affect you?

I would like to start by saying that having the chance to be a participant in the Kakehashi2.0 project was a personal dream come true. It has always been a dream of mine to travel to Japan.

Through the years, I managed to think of Japan as almost 'magical' through pictures I saw, or through stories I heard other people tell. In my mind I built it up so greatly that I began thinking that, instead, it would be nothing of what I expected. However, being able to experience Japan for myself has made me garner a new appreciation for it. And that it is another country that I could learn the similarities and differences to where I come from.

What affected me the most was probably the way the old and new aspects of Japan could exist at the same time in the same place. While in a shrine I could see so many traditions that exist with it and then look up to see numerous towering buildings surrounding the area. And for me, I love both history and modern pop culture: so I truly appreciated being able to experience them both. And I am thankful to have been able to travel and meet people who shared similar interest in Japan as me on the trip.

My goal for the future was to go to Japan to study and possibly seek a career. And while I cannot say that has changed, I can say that my participation in the trip has reinforced my goals. Having the chance to interact with the Japanese people and, on occasion, having them compliment me on my language skills has further motivated me to learn the language. I plan to work harder on my Japanese proficiency to aim for fluency in the near future.

Amira Hassan (College of Staten Island)

Click on photos to see their descriptions.

How did your participation in the Kakehashi Project affect you?

The Kakehashi project has been a real blessing and I am beyond thankful. It was the best way to end my college career and it felt as if the world opened up to me. I was never much of a traveler, but after the trip to Japan, I have done a complete 180. One of my goals in life now is to go back to Japan, and to try to see as much of the world as possible. After returning on the 30th, I still couldn't believe myself, but revisiting the pictures I took confirmed I wasn't having the most realistic dream of my life.

Visiting all those places in Japan was so enriching, but what left an impression on me just as much was something much simpler. No matter what country you reside at in the world, humanity relies on one basic thing: the day-to-day interaction between one other. It was so enlightening for me to see how Japanese people interacted with each other, and how that differed from the way Americans act. One of the things that stood out to me and that I appreciated is the politeness and respect that's embedded within Japanese society. I enjoyed being in that kind of 'world', and it sparked my interest in learning more about human interaction and the role of 'culture' and tradition in modern society. In my eyes, Japan is the offspring of old rich traditions and modern society.

How has it changed your goals and/or plans for the future?

One of my long-term goals is to hopefully become a diplomat or play some role in the international community, and my platform consists of improving the relationship between the United States with other countries--no matter where they are in the world. I feel like I have become a more well rounded person just by being in another country, and by really allowing myself to become saturated in not what makes the US and Japan alike, but in what makes both countries unique and special. These differences shouldn't exist to divide and break us apart; they should do the opposite and empower us to unite and work together. Diversity should be celebrated because let's be honest, without it the world would be a boring place.

My gratitude for this opportunity cannot accurately be put into words. Thank you.

Paul Hiller (Baruch College) [hasn't submitted the report yet]

Click on photos to see their descriptions.

How did your participation in the Kakehashi Project affect you?

How has it changed your goals and/or plans for the future?

Connie Huang (Baruch College)

Click on photos to see their descriptions.

How did your participation in the Kakehashi Project affect you?

The Kakehashi Project has fulfilled many ‘firsts’ for me; my first time going on a plane, my first time going out of the country, my first time indulging in a new culture directly. I would like to consider myself not as bias as the stereotype that most Americans adopt about the country but going to Japan really exceeded my expectations. The majority of experiences I’ve come to know were new to me.

Konbini stores and vending machines galore, but no trash cans in sight (and yet the streets are so clean). Screaming neon advertisements by night and blinding rising sun by day. Speaking Japanese to Japanese people. Tempura, udon, bento, takoyaki, okonomiyaki, yakisoba, and some sushi to evoke salivation – oh, and let us not forget to sip some ocha. Crowded shrines where natives and foreigners alike pay homage, pray and discover one’s fortune. Markets are labyrinths of shops with assortments varying from incredibly fresh edibles to the collectible inedible. National, craft, and art museums full of treasures – ancient, contemporary, and in the making – to hover over and intrigue. Rakugo, Kabuki, Nihon Buyo entertain and fascinate, while giving way to bouts of applause, laughter and tears. Interacting with university students and finding out, hey, we aren’t so different after all – let’s shake hands and be friends. Japan, I will quote, is more than just anime and manga, and what is edified as “Cool Japan.” I believe what we have all experienced, is the coolness Anjelica spoke of, that Japan always was.

Japan, more than anything, is living history. Despite its innovative prowess, the historical traditions endure. Global influences are particularly obvious in Shinjuku, Tokyo, a city of high-rises and traffic and a commercial center that rivals New York City’s own. Nights in Shinjuku are alive and this is when we explored, shopped, and sang (karaoke). Moving to Kyoto, we welcome the leveled landscape of an older Japan, where modern structures are peppered in with tiled-roof machiya, wide agricultural fields, and hills wrapped in foliage. Japan is more beautiful than I could have imagined and I was so grateful to witness and experience all this with the beautiful people I’ve met.

How has it changed your goals and/or plans for the future?

I have just scratched the surface of the Japanese language before going on this trip. I feel motivated to continue learning the language but now also, investigating more into cultural aspects such as the history, literature, and art. I bought a set of karuta cards so I can get started on memorizing some Japanese poetry.

I plan to maintain the relationships I’ve made along this trip, with fellow Kakehashi participants and the Japanese students alike – it’s been fun so far. I will definitely stay in touch with the friends I have made and may even one day be able to act as a host for an exchange student to here, in America.

I can only hope that one day, I will be able to return to Japan, maybe as a study abroad and stay there a while longer.

Jenna Jankowski (College of Staten Island)

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How did your participation in the Kakehashi Project affect you?

Although our trip was short, I feel like I am far more intimately aquatinted with Japan than I had been before I left.As someone who studied the history of Japan and the role of women throughout the country, I merely saw it as a place that lived in my textbooks but now, when going back to my research, I can imagine it as it is, a beautiful country that is more than just text on a page. Getting to experience the country first-hand was an amazing experience and will certainly impact my studies for the rest of my college career.

I now plan on taking on the study of the Japanese language on my own, as it is not offered at my college. I have already begun using the Japan Foundation's website to do so. I will also maintain my connections with the Japanese University students I have met through e-mail and Facebook. Also, I have now added the Japan Foundation's NewYork office as a place I plan on applying to after graduation to assist in the organization of more trips like this.

Matia Jaysura (Lehman College)

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How did your participation in the Kakehashi Project affect you?

After embarking on the Kakehashi Project, I feel as though my knowledge of Japan before the trip was limited at best. Although I have been studying the language for three years and have had an interest in Japan since childhood, very little can be understood about a country unless you experience it firsthand. Initially, I applied for the program as a way to finally experience Japan and strengthen my language skills. And as a senior in college, I couldn't think of any other appropriate way of ending my undergraduate career than by going on a study tour of Japan. While I was expecting one thing, I experienced another. The Kakehashi experience opened my eyes to aspects of Japan I never knew existed, especially during my visit to Kyoto. I knew temples and shrines still existed in Japan but I never knew realized how much they were woven into the modernization of the city. When people think of Japan, I believe they think of Tokyo because of its abundance of lights, people, technological advances, status as a fashion capital and fast paced lifestyle. But, I believe the real heart of Japan lies in places like Kyoto where the ancient and traditional history lies preserved among the rise of every present modernization. I also enjoyed exchanging ideas and talking with students at Doshisha and Chuo University. It was encouraging to see that they too also wanted to visit places outside of Japan. Perhaps the most rewarding part of the experience was making friends and connections with people halfway across the world. Many of them expressed an interest in coming to New York City in the near future so I hope that I can meet them again and show them around my city, in the same way that they showed me Japan.

The Kakehashi Project has only affirmed my choice in pursing my studies of Japan. While initially I was more interested in the fashion and food of Japan, I'm slowly drifting toward learning more about the ancient literature and culture. Furthermore, I am thinking of making a more serious attempt at applying for the JET programme. While speaking with some university students, they expressed the need for more native English speakers to come to Japan and teach English. They believed it would greatly impact the development of English language education in Japan. I will also continue to study the Japanese language and further my studies in the country and its history. Lastly, I will look into graduate programs that are based in Japan, as I believe obtaining a degree overseas will be more beneficial to my line of future work, rather than staying in the United States.

Jacqueline Jean-Francois (Hunter College)

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How did your participation in the Kakehashi Project affect you?

Before we embarked on this trip, I already had positive preconceptions of both the nation and its people. I believe that actually seeing Japan has spurred my desire to return. When I considered applying for JET in the past, I seemed a bit hesitant, because one is nervous and anxious about the unknown, especially in a foreign land. However, the Kakehashi Project has really solidified my decision to apply this November.

I had the opportunity firsthand to interact with native Japanese in daily interactions, and even though we were there for such a short amount of time, I absorbed so much on a daily basis. This project has helped me to develop the self-confidence I needed to possibly take on such a large task, namely, moving to Japan for at least a year.

Kathleen Johnson (LaGuardia Community College)

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I come away from my few days of intense immersion in the aspects of Japanese antiquity, religion, technology, amusement, food, education, aesthetic, transportation, agriculture, hospitality, and commerce. Japan exudes drive, perseverance, energy and diligence in its people. Interactions with them in various settings underscored the respect and honor inherent in their culture towards one another and especially towards us as guests. Our needs and wants were considered and graciously accommodated whenever possible, particularly by our guide, Mr. Kunihiko Inadome and all others who cared for us during our stay. I was greatly impressed by the efficiency with which the itinerary was arranged to include such a broad spectrum of activities that encompassed so much of what Japan and carried out. The experience deeply enriched my understanding of and love for Japan in a more intimate way.

One thing stands out; their nationalistic pride declared by their well-maintained infrastructure, clean and efficient, spoke volumes. Common knowledge of their history and attendance to their cultural centers seen clearly as school groups visited the temples and shrines on Sundays en masse impressed me, and also attested to this pride. The youth continue to be educated about and participate in the longstanding appreciation for the cultural values of their ancestors. Their focus is on their strengths and values. The historical legacy of prevailing in spite of overwhelming tragedies such as cataclysmic natural disasters and wars is part of the core of their civilization. Their exaltation of their history attests to this. It is not something relegated to textbooks, but is in the forefront of their vision as a world leader. Kakehashi 2.0 is one of the means intended to keep them at the forefront of the global community as leaders who are in touch with the sensibilities of other nations. This is a country of vision, diligence and perseverance.

I have and will continue to endorse Japan as a must-be-visited destination. Japan and its people visually stimulated my senses from the aesthetic of their architecture, both old and contemporary, fashionable dress, the plating of their meals (including our box lunches), the art, crafts, and lush green landscape. The intelligence and eloquence of our contacts, often in our own language, including Rakugo, characterized their diligence in academic pursuits and efforts to bridge the language differences between us. This accommodation greatly exemplified their desire and commitment to continue a positive partnership with Americans. When I become a midwife, my services may now be of better value to families of Japanese heritage with the knowledge I have gained during my visit. I look forward to more trips to Japan in hopes of creating more intimate relationships, as well as building up the ones initiated at the student exchange opportunities. I felt warmly welcomed and would be happy to return the hospitality should a student desire to visit New York City. Thank you to every person who made us feel so at home in a place so different from our own.

Joseph Keo (Lehman College)

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I was born in Bronx, New York, under Cambodian refugees. I've lived there, in the same room, for 22 years. I've only traveled outside the country to Canada about three times in my youth, and out of New York only a handful of times. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that I suffer general fatigue after seeing the same sights and sounds for nearly a quarter of a century.

At first, ten days seemed hardly enough time to explore Japan, but they turned out to be more than enough to remedy my crisis. Though I am relatively sheltered, I don't think I'm completely oblivious or uncultured; Japan was always one of those dream destinations you could only visit through Google images and most of my time is spent meticulously scanning through miscellaneous bits of Japanese trivia. From the initial bus ride to the Shinjuku Prince Hotel and onward, I realized I had completely underestimated the significance of experiencing a completely new city, let alone environment, firsthand. In that first bus ride, I noticed the distinct characteristics that immediately set itself from New York: dimly-illuminated with reoccurring neon red and white lights contrasts the yellow glow and barrage of colors I've always attributed to home. Of course there were many insights I've gained over the trip, but I feel generally absorbing the aesthetic and design (architecture, layout, color use, etc.) of Japan most significant and inspiring.

Highlighting the characteristics of another country also highlights the differences from my own home. I probably echo the sentiments of many other participants when I express reverence for how streamlined and productive some Japanese services are: trains, 7-11's, customer service, toilets, vending machines, cleanliness. To grow and live in New York means accepting that some of these services aren't the greatest, and after this visit, I now really wish otherwise. Though I will always love this city, the Kakehashi project has given my a well-overdue desire to escape and explore elsewhere. Part of the byproduct of my fatigue was aimlessness: I've never found any strong interests in career or future prospects, resulting in uncertainty, lethargy, and a toxic state of mind overall. For the first time since very long ago, I feel I finally found a goal: move elsewhere. Hopefully I can go back for a longer time.

Erin Fu (College of Staten Island)

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Having the opportunity to participate in this project has been an eye opening experience. Never have I been able to learn so much about another country in such a short amount of time. From walking in and amongst the temples and shrines to being exposed to some of Japan's old industrial equipment, to admiring the craftsmanship that is still put into each and every craft made in Japan was truly an experience. I am truly honored to have been chosen to participate in this program and to be able to share all I have learned and experienced with my friends and family. I honestly didn't know much about Japan upon my arrival and could only find out so much via the internet. I am glad that I was able to acquire a personal relationship not only with the country, but I was able to gain insight into how the Japanese government is looking to strengthen themselves and their people, especially though creating bonds between students.

Visiting both Doshisha and Chuo Universities was a fabulous experience. I was able to see first-hand how their classrooms work, how they are taught, how they learn, and what they experience as students in Japan. I learned that our differences are greater than our similarities, but even in the short time we spent together, we were able to close that gap and truly create a Kakehashi between us as individuals. I am very excited to have made many new friends and I am actively keeping in touch with them today.

One of the ways that this project changed my plans and goals is by increasing my wants to return to the country, to increase my personal understanding of the language and culture. I was very interested to be introduced to the JET program while abroad and I plan to inquire into teaching English in Japan through this program. I plan on taking Japanese language classes to help me speak more clearly and fluently and I am enlisting the help of my new friends to inform me more about the Japanese culture. I believe this is helping them to become more in touch with their heritage as well, because some of them actually have to do research to answer my questions. This is also a great way for us both to learn. I inform them of what I was able to find out from America, and they inform me as to what they discovered form Japan. It truly is a great experience. Overall, I am so proud to say that I am an ambassador for this project, and I can't wait to be able to return to Japan, this time with more language and knowledge under my belt.

Elizabeth Krawczun (College of Staten Island)

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How did your participation in the Kakehashi Project affect you?

Taking part in the Kakehashi Project, I came to understand why and how Japan is a global force. The country holds onto and appreciates customs and traditions, while accepting new influences and pop culture. Before traveling to Japan, I admit that I had a limited view and was ignorant of Japan's influence and strength. I was only familiar with the stereotypical American adoptions and adaptations of anime and sushi. In truth, this Project provided a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I strongly believe that none of us students left without experiencing a change in perspective.

In contrast to the United States, it appears that Japan, as a whole, is united. The richness of history is evident and the citizens are proud of that. The United States has global influence, but is not united as one. This country should learn from Japan that pride is as important as power. Japan prioritizes social welfare over individual welfare and strives for a collective force. The country is resourceful and extremely efficient. The sidewalks and public spaces are clean and well kept and traditions are respected. This is much less so in the United States. I came to understand that the United States, in contrast, has less history and fewer bonds holding people together.

Japan, like the United States, is one greatly influenced by a commercial culture. These two countries should work together to project the goals of building a bridge between the nations. Since my eyes have been opened to the richness, diversity, power, and influence of Japan, I feel that it is my responsibility to spread the knowledge I now possess to those who are as ignorant as I once was. As a student of epidemiology, I find the study of people and patterns of behavior fascinating and believe that they are greatly influenced by region, culture, and health. I would like to learn more about Japan and how the people are affected by their surroundings. This Project advertised the teaching of food, tourism, and pop culture, and I feel that all are forces of influence to the health, well-being, and pride of Japanese citizens.

I would like to thank the Kakehashi Project for allowing me the opportunity to experience a culture so very different from my own.

Maya Leggat (Hunter College) [hasn't submitted the report yet]

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How did your participation in the Kakehashi Project affect you?

How has it changed your goals and/or plans for the future?

Jorge Adrian Machuca (Lehman College)

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My name is Jorge Adrian Machuca Parra. I am a student at Lehman College located in the Bronx, currently I am a sophomore and my major is business administration. I always have been fascinated by Japan, its traditions, culture, and lifestyle. For that reason I decided to start studying Japanese the last year, and recently I decided to take Japanese as a Minor for my career. A couple of months ago I heard about the Kakehashi project, I definitely was excited and I applied for being a participant. When I was selected, I was really excited and really motivated for learn more about Japan and its culture, besides of the language of course. This trip to Japan really changed my life in many ways, and made me took some decisions about my academic career. I decided to have a minor in Japanese, and right now I really feel motivated to get better at Japanese, improve my writing, speaking, and study Kanji a lot more.

The Kakehashi project trip took place between May 20 and May 30. In that lapse of time, we had the opportunity of participate in many activities and visit many traditional places in Japan. We visited temples, markets, museums, national foundations, universities, and also we did many recreational activities and ate typical Japanese food. In all of those ten days we really were exposed to the Japanese culture and tried to emerge ourselves into its history and traditions. Every day, we founded something new about Japan that was really interesting. Many of the participants were really amazed by the difference between the United States and Japan. Japanese people were really polite, the cities and places we visited were really clean, tradition was present in almost every part, and innovation was also a really interesting aspect about Japan (Shinkansen, bending machines, organized and clean subway system, technology in general). We also have to point out that pop culture was really interesting for many participants. Karaoke places, arcades, anime and manga stores were some of the things that really caught the attention of many people and made them want to know about the Japanese pop culture.

All this project was based in the creation of strong bounds between the United States and Japan. I really think that we gave a good image about America and its culture, and at the same time we interacted with Japanese culture to start a new friendship and create more Kizuna (bounds) between us. We had a lot of host institutions in Japan that showed us many things about Japanese culture, but I really think that the visit to Doshisha University and Chuo University were the most interesting because we had the opportunity to interact with other Japanese students who are in the same "conditions" as us. They are regular students at a university, had a schedule, study every day, and in general they have a college student lifestyle. For that reason, we had a really good time interacting with them, exchanging our ideas about education, culture, and lifestyle. We learn a lot of each other, and in general we made a lot of friends in the process.

How did your participation in the Kakehashi Project affect you?

My participation in the Kakehashi Project had a great impact on me. First of all, visit Japan and know more about its culture and traditions was one of my goals in life, based on that, I can say that this project accomplished one of my dreams in life, and made me want to come back in a future. I learned a lot about Japanese daily life, culture, tradition, and educational methods. I really feel more involved with Japanese culture and its people. In the past I was familiar with Japanese culture, but in this trip I really think I obtained an intimacy with it.

How has it changed your goals and/or plans for the future?

One the biggest decisions that I recently took based on this trip is continuing my study of the Japanese language. I pointed out that I took Japanese two semesters ago, and I really like the Japanese language a lot. However, I never saw myself trying to learn Japanese as a third language (Spanish is my native language). After this trip, I am really motivated to take Japanese more seriously and I decided to start a minor in this area. I think this decision will change my life in many ways and will bring me many other opportunities like this trip to Japan.

Finally, I have to say that I am really interesting on going back to Japan an visit many other places that I really did not have the opportunity to visit, go back to the ones we visited and know more about them, and of course go back to Japan knowing a lot more Japanese. In that way, it will be easy for me to interact with other people and make new friends.

Francesca Messina (College of Staten Island)

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How did your participation in the Kakehashi Project affect you?

After visiting Japan and participating in the Kakehashi Project, it's no surprise to me as to why Japan is a model for all other countries. Japan took us all by surprise when we saw what a collective culture it had, yet everyone held such a high personal responsibility for everything they did. This was evident when we saw how clean Japan was and yet there were no trash cans in sight. After speaking with a doorman in Kyoto at the New Miyako Hotel and watching another doorman clean the outside of the hotel, I came upon this profound realization. The doorman explained to me that if Japanese land was not clean, they felt a personal responsibility to clean it otherwise they felt ashamed of themselves.

Broadening the scope of why Japan is such a highly respected model for other countries, Japan has established a balance between being truly innovative and modern, while also preserving the history and the natural elements of the Japanese world. Japan is rich in culture and respect and has promoted economic growth both in Japan and globally. Japan has truly proved to be more than just anime, manga, and sushi for us, although they definitely do maintain a good sense of humor. After having this cultural exchange with Japanese people and establishing this kakehashi, we have realized that Japanese people have many differences and similarities to American people, but in the end they are people just like us. As a result of this trip, we gladly can maintain, promote, and improve this bridge between Japan and America.

How has it changed your goals and/or plans for the future?

As a nursing major, this trip has opened up my eyes to certain etiquette that I must be aware of when interacting with a Japanese person. It has confirmed for me that I would love to be a traveling nurse in the future. Not only will I promote Japan to others and tell everyone about my experiences in Japan, I will one day return to Japan and continue to build on the kakehashi that we started here on this trip.

Lauren Morgan (Queens College)

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Hello, my name is Lauren Morgan and I am a senior at Queens College of the CUNY system. From May 20th to the 30th, I participated in the Kakehashi Project. During my short stay in Japan, I experienced a number of events that I will not soon forget. I visited breathtaking landmarks and important places, tried many interesting dishes, and made friends in Japan's prestigious Doshisha and Chuo University whom I plan to contact now that I am back in America. Being able to experience a culture different from my own firsthand was somewhat unnerving at first, but by the time we were ready to go, it was already beginning to feel like home. A few even joked that they would got lost so that they would not have to go back to America. However, one thing I admired greatly about the Japanese people was their tendency to go the extra mile for one in the need, and the tremendous amount of respect they showed towards us as foreigners.

Many acts of kindness and courtesy I witnessed while there were actions I have yet to see conducted by my fellow Americans. Coming back, it made me feel how that we could do so much more towards our country than we currently are. I also developed a deep appreciation for the structure and architecture of various homes and buildings in Japan and how unique they are in comparison to homes in the US. Another aspect of the country that struck me favorably was the convenience of many shops and store fronts. You could buy practically anything you wanted within a short radius thanks to the efficiency of the convenience stores we found there and 100 yen shops actually stuck to their word in that the products sold there were actually 100 yen. Commerce aside, the heavy utilization of bicycles as a means of transport not only helped people stay fit, but also greatly cut back on the emission of air pollution. I definitely believe America could take a few pointers from Japan when it comes to maintaining a more green atmosphere for the environment and its inhabitants.

The first night we arrived, there was also an immediate noticeable difference in the nightlife of Shinjuku. Despite being a place with a fairly bad reputation among locals, it was still appeared to be considerably cleaner and safer than even the better parts of Manhattan. Before I continue, I would like to share a few moments that I found to be of extra significance to me during the trip:

Overall, I had a tremendous time in Japan and being there has further inspired me to study the language even harder than previously and apply for many scholarships, so that I might be able to study abroad there one day. I will always be extremely grateful towards the Kakehashi Project and LaGuardia Community College for giving me the opportunity to visit this wonderful country and to get to know its people on a more personal level. I hope that more young Americans will visit Japan and learn about its rich history and culture. Seeing and experiencing what I did on this trip has left me with a deeper appreciation for Japan, its people, and the hope that I will be able to make a stronger connection with them so that I might be able to return once more.

Amelie Spyro (Queens College)

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How did your participation in the Kakehashi Project affect you?

I am very grateful to have been able to participate in the Kakekashi Project and I truly enjoyed every aspect of the program. Through sharing the experience with the other participants, I was able to make many new friends and I really hope these friendships will last for many Kakehashi- reunions to come. I also really enjoyed interacting with the Japanese students during the university visits at Doshisha and Chuo University, and to learn about their dreams and hopes for the future. The impressions left by my visit to Japan with this program will stay with me forever, and have inspired me even more to continue my major in the Japanese language and culture.

How has it changed your goals and/or plans for the future?

I have always been interested in Japan and its rich culture, and am very grateful to have had the chance to finally visit this county after more than 10 years of dreaming about it. The participation in this program has only reaffirmed my passion for Japan and has given me new energy to continue studying Japanese. Although I have always been hoping to go to Japan for a study-abroad semester, I am now also considering attending graduate school there, if possible. I would really love to someday live in Japan, either to teach English or German, or to become a tour guide and share this country's culture and history with other foreign visitors. I would also like to work as a guide for Japanese tourists to the US and to introduce them to American culture. In any case though, I will continue working towards my goal of attaining fluency in Japanese, and hope that I can contribute to the Japanese-American relationship, no matter where I will be.

Joseph Palumbo (College of Staten Island)

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How did your participation in the Kakehashi Project affect you?

Participating in the Kakehashi Project enabled me to discover a whole new culture and society that I had previously known little about. Despite the Americanized imports I experienced in my day to day life, such as anime and sushi, my knowledge of Japan's extensive history and present day culture was minimal. This project gave me the opportunity to visit shrines and temples that represent significant importance to Japan's lineage. During my time in the trip we visited places such as Harajuku, the Manga Museum, and the technology district, which exposed me to Japan's huge focus on pop culture and innovation that has become globalized. During our visit to the Japanese universities, my eyes were opened to the difference in schooling Japan had when compared to the American education system. The conversations with the university students we had during this time revealed the cultural differences and similarities we had when it came to anything from pop culture to home life.

After coming home from the Kakehashi Program and reflecting on my time spent in Japan I realized how much I really did learn while overseas. Being able to experience an entirely different culture that has been around for centuries inspired me to keep researching on Japanese culture, and other cultures as well. I want to immerse myself in as much of the world as I can, and keep visiting different places in the hope of learning something new each time. Although the Japanese language is not offered at my college to be studied, I plan to continue to teach myself on my own time. Ultimately, I plan on coming back to Japan sometime in the future, and experiencing the diverse and rich culture once again.

Mia Paula Raguro (LaGuardia Community College)

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Good day! My name is Mia Paula Raguro, a student of LaGuardia Community College and majoring Veterinary Technology. First of all, I would like to sincerely thank all the people who made it possible for us (Kakehashi Participants) to be able to visit the beautiful country of Japan, especially the people from Japan Foundation who magnificently did their best for this trip. The ten day trip to Japan from May twenty to May thirty is truly a dream come true not only for myself but many of the other participants as well.

As my journey to my dream come true started at the departure, I honestly did not feel as excited as the others. The reason is probably because I am still not in Japan, which made me a bit worried ever since I got into this program, that I might still be dreaming or things might happen even before I leave for Japan. Luckily I made it to Japan with no problem except for the lack of sleep and uncomfortable flight. Arriving to Japan still does not hit me to believe I’m really in Japan. It is till I saw a tower and thought it is the Tokyo tower which I truly deeply want to visit. My heart started to pump as fast as it can and I myself started to get very excited and there I work up knowing I am really in Japan. The tower I saw was the Tokyo skyscraper, yet not Tokyo tower but still it made me realize the truth. I did not have the time to go and visit Tokyo tower but I did manage to take a photo from a far. It wasn’t the best photo but for me it is the source of my energy and the start of me loving Japan. The photo is attached below:

Another thing that I really like about my trip to Japan are knowing that I am doing something good not only for myself but most importantly for the bond of Japan and USA. I am much honored to be one of the people to represent USA, and I will truly treasure every bit of Japan’s hospitality. From the little things like the person from the arcade near Shinjuku Prince Hotel who always helped me to strive more and win the price. I very much appreciate every people who treated us like a very important people. I believe that from this project it will not only strengthen the bond of the two participating country but also make the citizens of each country understand each other most.

Furthermore, I like the fact of making new Japanese friends. Also, seeing how happy they are having us as a friend is very fulfilling. I will definitely tell the world how kind and good hearted Japanese people are and how beautiful the country is.

Moreover, knowing that personally I already know so many things about Japan because of my interest in the country and also having a family who lives in Japan, I was still shock knowing that there are more to explore in Japan. I love learning and one of the things I really enjoyed learning when I was in Japan was the Rakugo and specifically the different kinds of kimono which is use in different events for different people. Leaning this new thing will provide me more knowledge where I can share everyone. Also the knowledge that there is more to Japan that anyone thought of it.

Lastly, the thing that I loved most about the trip is the bond I made to everyone. They are the Japanese students, my fellow participants and mostly to our beloved otochan (Inanome san our escort.) I would like to specially mention his hard work in taking care of us like his own children. He is one of the people I know everyone will miss the most. He made sure we have the best time of our life. I really do not know what else to say because in our (kakehashi participants) heart he is our best friend and a father like.

This whole Japan trip is unforgettable. I am very happy that I made it to Japan for my first time by this project. It was truly unremarkable experience. I did not feel very sad when I left Japan knowing that I’m pretty sure that I will come back and visit next year. There are no other words to express all the gratitude I have for all the people who made this possible. I will make sure to get use of all the knowledge I gained to strengthen the bond of USA and Japan more with all my heart. A huge “Thank You” from the bottom of my heart.

Andre Ribeiro (LaGuardia Community College)

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How did your participation in the Kakehashi Project affect you?

First and foremost I would like to thank everyone that made this trip possible. I'm so grateful for this opportunity and will be forever thankful! I have been profoundly affected by this trip, I've learned so much about Japan, its people, culture and can't wait to go back. I made Japanese friends and friends from other schools and believe these friendships could last a lifetime. The cleanliness of the streets, the manner in which business is conducted, the respect for others, traffic lights and the environment was striking. I will always remember this trip fondly and will work hard to integrate Japan in my future business/career plans.

How has it changed your goals and/or plans for the future?

I had plans to apply for jobs in Brazil and Europe besides the U.S once I graduated, but Japan is now at the top of the list. I will take Japanese classes and practice it with my Japanese friends. Also, I will be cancelling a family trip I had planned to Italy and will visit Japan instead. I'm so excited about going back and showing my loved ones the great things Japan has to offer.

Paul Rodriguez (LaGuardia Community College)

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How did your participation in the Kakehashi Project affect you?

To see a dream realize after waiting for long is something many of us might take for granted. I have been self-studying Japanese since I was 14 years old through various websites that make the language easy and attainable as a potential skill one can use and develop in the future. Linguistics has always been an interest of mine--growing up in a multicultural family has made it something that I cherish so much. A long-term goal of mine is to connect the world through language and to help those who have problems attaining it. I small insight about me prior to the trip: I hate flying on airplanes--heights as an overall phobia is something I have been cursed for since I was young; however, I tossed those feelings away and applied as a Kakehashi participant. Not only did it change my life forever but also made memories that I will forever hold dear inside me. The program gave me a deeper understanding about Japan, its customs and why they hold their culture so dear to them. Prior to the trip I wasn't too sure about how it would play out, but I befriended many participants as well as many Japanese students whilst the trip went underway. Anjelica, Jenna, Becky, Connie, Max, Anthony and the many Joes as well as many others made this trip a memorable one for me. Some of the Japanese friends I befriended were Yamato Ueda, Yuka Iwatake, Kouta Kodama, Yuto Iino, Soutaro Oda and Naoto Oshi. Yamato was one of the friendliest guy we met at the trip, and ironically enough we met him through a friend that studies at Chuo University where I, alongside Jenna made a thank you speech to the vice president and the students for welcoming us to their country and their school. We learned a lot about Yamato during our last night in Japan where we spent it in a karaoke room enjoying each other's company. Yamato is a catholic and he has an interest in Spanish; the group encouraged his skills and we are rooting for him as he undergoes his studies. We hope he can someday visit America and enjoy our culture just as much as we enjoyed his!

How has it changed your goals and/or plans for the future?

For one, I definitely plan on teaching English abroad in Japan if the opportunity rises. Prior to the trip I was only interested in the language; now I want to expand my studies about Japan and learn about the societal, political, historical and economical factors of the country. I also plan on improving my reading and writing skills; learning Kanji is something that one isn't able to acquire easy but through perseverance and a steady mindset it is something that isn't unreachable. As I graduate LaGuardia and transition to Queens I am looking forward to who I will be meeting there because Flushing is known to have a high Asian influx, that of which fits my interest, East Asia. I would like to thank the Japan Foundation for making all of this possible. You will definitely see me again as I continue to strengthen the bridge between America and Japan. Thanks a lot for this marvelous experience.

Arielle Scardino (The City College of New York)

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How did your participation in the Kakehashi Project affect you?

The Kakehashi program was able to help me form a more realistic and thorough idea of what Japan was, is and where it’s going. It has allowed me the opportunity to become immersed in the culture so that I can share little pieces of the experience with my friends and family here in the US. I hope that in the future I will be able to spend more time in Japan and be able to support American policies that are beneficial to the continued friendship between Japan and America.

Malgorzata Sekowska (John Jay College of Criminal Justice)

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Visiting Japan has been my dream for over ten years since I took my first Japanese language course in Poland. I am fascinated with Asia and I have travelled before to Vietnam, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia but the Kakehashi trip was my first contact with Japan. The trip was an enriching and unforgettable experience and it affected me in many ways. It gave me a chance to experience Japan, its rich culture, history and people firsthand. Not only have I made friends with other Kakehashi participants who are equally passionate about Japan but also with local guides, students at Doshisha and Chuo universities and countless other people encountered during the trip. I was very impressed by friendliness, warmth and helpfulness of the people and by efficiency, organization and cleanliness of the country. Moreover, it has been really fascinating to see the temples and shrines in Kyoto, the various museums, participate in Kabuki performance and traditional dance show, eat Japanese food, ride the Shinkansen and experience Tokyo and Kyoto at night.

After taking two semesters of Japanese ten years ago I had a long break and almost no contact with the language even though I kept my interests in all things Japanese. Visiting Japan has renewed my desire to continue studying Japanese language as well as the history, customs and traditions of Japan. In addition, as an International Crime and Justice student, I am interested in researching issues related to crime in Japan - for example the Yakuza but also the socio-cultural factors why Japan has one of the lowest rates of violent crimes in the world.

In addition, I was truly captivated by Kyoto and I may consider living there for a while as an English teacher or taking some graduate courses on one of the Japanese Universities. I will definitely share my experiences, photos and stories of the Kakehashi trip with my family, friends and other students and encourage them to participate in numerous events related to Japanese culture in New York City.

I would like to thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, the Japan Foundation and all others involved in organizing and sponsoring the Kakehashi project. I am grateful to be one of the participants of this exceptional and memorable student exchange.

Veronica Shi (College of Staten Island)

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How did your participation in the Kakehashi Project affect you?

Participating in the Kakehashi Project has allowed me to experience Japan in a way I never thought I could. I had the opportunity to visit temples and shrines significant to Japanese history and popular districts that help promote the country's tourism aspect. But most importantly, I was able to visit two universities where I connected with students my age. By interacting with them, we compared and contrasted our cultures and bonded over the similarities. I entered the country with preconceived notions based on stereotypes, blogs, and articles on what Japan and its people were like. Towards the end, I realized although they were true to an extent, Japan truly homes a culture vastly different from ours, they were not as strict as I thought.

I wanted to participate in this project because I'm extremely interested in global marketing; I'm particularly interested in how global brands are able to market to a different psychographic. By observing the people who shopped, used, and wore global brands such as American Eagle, Coach, Nike, etc. I was able to see whatever marketing campaigns they use in Japan were definitely effective. The university students were also familiar with global brands and were able to compliment me on my H&M clothing and Burberry eyeglasses. As a marketing student, I am very glad to have been immersed in a culture as different, and modern, as ours and I hope it will be beneficial to my career in the future.

Amardeep Singh (Hunter College)

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How did your participation in the Kakehashi Project affect you?

Participating in the Kakehashi Project was an extremely enriching experience and showed me the sheer beauty that Japan embodies on a very individual, personalized level. As someone that had Japan on the top of their list of places to visit in the world for about 6-7 years now, the trip really helped cement my appreciation for Japan and proved to me that my appreciation wasn't just romanticization. I feel incredibly lucky to have seen the sights I saw and do the things I did that I've seen as I almost certainly wouldn't have had the time or money to see or do them had I come on my own. This project helped me build bonds with Japanese people and students that I wouldn't have met otherwise, and those are bonds that I hope to foster long-term.

The program has motivated me to involve Japan more in my plan for the future, to the extent that I'd love to move to Kyoto for a period of time in the near future because of how beautiful, warm, and friendly I found it to be. As an outsider, I've always heard more about Tokyo than Kyoto from friends that have visited, but it was Kyoto that I fell in love with because of it's cultural history and beauty, as well as the pride that I found the citizens of Kyoto to embody and put forward. I will definitely visit again sometime soon to see more of Kyoto as well as Hokkaido, Nara, and Osaka, cities that I still want to visit. But on a more fundamental level, the trip as a whole has made me acutely aware of the cultural similarities and differences between the Japanese and America, and has made me more conscious of differences in cultures around the world.

Rhode Elise St.-Jacques (Medgar Evers College)

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My name is Rhode-Elise St. Jacques and I am a student at Medgar Evers College, CUNY. I am humbled to have been afforded the trip to Japan from May 20, 2013 to May 30, 2013. It was a great opportunity to see Japanese culture first hand and appreciate its traditions. It was wonderful to be on the land that has given so much to the world through technology and innovation. It was an honor to have visited many wonderful places including Doshisha University in Kyoto and Chuo University in Tokyo.

Japan has one of the world's most impressive education system. As an education major focusing on early-childhood special education, I would have liked to visit early childhood institutions in Japan. In the future, I hope to have the opportunity to go back to Japan and learn about how young children, particularly those with special needs, are educated. As someone who wants to have my own early-childhood intervention center, I stand to learn a lot from a country like Japan that is advanced in the world of education. In the meanwhile, I would love to be a real ambassador for Japan, helping people in America gain a greater appreciation for the Japanese culture and contribution to the world. Upon my return to Medgar Evers College for the fall semester, I plan on actively working with my college's study abroad department, encouraging students to study in Japan.

Aun Syed (College of Staten Island) [hasn't submitted the report yet]

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How did your participation in the Kakehashi Project affect you?

How has it changed your goals and/or plans for the future?

Win Ei Ei Thein (LaGuardia Community College)

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How did your participation in the Kakehashi Project affect you?

Getting this rare chance to participate in this Kakehashi Project, I am very grateful to everyone who makes this program happened. I've never dreamt of travelling to Japan with my peers and without any fees. During this program, my interest in Japan country, Japanese cultures and Japanese people develops. Japan's high technology systems were only heard and when I see them right in front of my eyes, I am pretty amazed by them. Despite the natural disaster which made Japan economically weaken for a moment, allowing us to stay in the country with this amazing program is more than appreciable.

During the visits to temples and shrines, I learnt that Japanese people are very religious. Preserving and promoting the culture and tradition, it has school trip season for students which was around the time when we were in Japan. It makes future generation get a sense of obligation to preserve these ancient historic places. When exchanging with Japanese students from two universities, I am glad that we got to share some ideas. It makes our understandings deepen.

I enjoyed participating in this program because I had opportunity to learn the airlines' services, the hotels' facilities, amenities and services. As my major is travel & tourism, being able to stay at three different hotels and being able to have services by flight attendants give me more practical lessons. Rather than the experience got by just visiting the hotels with study group, staying at hotels for certain nights can experience from the point of view of real customers/guests. I learnt the differences in facilities, amenities and services of those three different hotels. I hope they will be beneficial in my future career.

How has it changed your goals and/or plans for the future?

One of my goals of my life is after getting a degree from U.S. University, I wish to work in one of the hotels/resorts in Asian countries. I become very interested in Japan's travel and tourism field and would like to go into it. I believe as Tokyo is the heart of Japan for tourism, the coastal areas and islands of Japan will also have unique attractions to tourists. With my knowledge got from studying in the states, I will utilize it back in Japan, partly promoting its tourism. The Japanese people also know some unique places in the United States: therefore, promoting U.S. tourist attraction places will also be helpful.

Marissa Torres (The City College of New York)

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How did your participation in the Kakehashi Project affect you?

My participation in the Kakehashi project has definitely changed me in so any ways. First of all, it allowed me to take a different perspective on communicating with others. I went into this program with only two semesters of Japanese language under my belt, which I realized really isn't very much the second I looked at all the street signs alone on the very first night in the country and only knew a meager handful of kanji. I was wondering what on earth I got myself into, thinking that I would have to stick by all my friends who knew more than I did, and possibly attach my translator app to my person at all times. But one day after the next, I was pleasantly surprised of the lengths that many were willing to go to just to communicate with each other. Never had broken English and broken Japanese made so much sense before, I swear it! That alone was so much fun, learning more Japanese, teaching more English (and Spanish, because I met some wonderful university students that are also interested in many other languages), and most of all, realizing that a language barrier-- which isn't truly a 'barrier,' per se, but rather more of a bridge-- can be fun to approach!

The Kakehashi project has really opened my eyes to all the diversity in the world, and in my area of medical studies, I truly think that it is important to acknowledge it. I met many amazing students from different universities, with different majors, that personally showed me more of the Japanese culture, listened with rapt attention to my answering questions about New York, and taught me, most importantly, that you don't need a similar home and language, or a lifetime, to make lifelong friends. These awesome people include: Chihiro Honda, Eri Sawai, Maya Kamiya, Yuta Tanaka, Yamato Ueda, Shiho Kurihara, Yuto Iino, Kouta Kodama, Yuki Onishi, Mai Nakamura, and Satoshi Teraguchi! All of these new friends, plus everyone from Kakehashi project, have become a second family to me, with new, beautiful, fun memories that have changed my life, and will definitely last forever.

Byron Santiago Vasquez Cabrera (Lehman College)

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How did your participation in the Kakehashi Project affect you?

This project was one of the best opportunities I have received in my life and it changed my view of Japan and my life. When I heard about this project I was a little skeptical about whether it was true or not, but later I decided to take a chance and fill out the application. I was happy to know that I was selected to participate in the Kakehashi project. Even though we only spent 10 days in Japan we had a wonderful experience. I personally enjoyed every single minute of the trip. All of the places we visited were breath-taking, interesting, and relaxing. Most importantly, I gained important knowledge about the Japanese culture. I like how they have been able to balance technology with their traditions. After visiting Japan, I was able to understand why Japanese people are respectful, clean, and civilized. . It's all about their culture; they keep their own culture above anybody else's. This is admirable because in the present, other countries can't have a balance between new technologies and old traditions of their culture. Thanks to our tour guides and volunteers I was able to understand more about Japanese culture. Some of the things that caught my attention while I was in Japan were watching the interaction among family members; it looked like they had a deep feeling of respect. Also, I was amazed at how the streets look so clean even though it was hard to find garbage cans. Since I had time to practice my Japanese I noticed that I needed more practice and effort in my studies. From now on I will try hard to improve my Japanese so I can speak it fluently next time I visit this wonderful country. In the future I would like to go back and stay because it is just an amazing place to live, work and have a good time.

How has it changed your goals and/or plans for the future?

This trip did not change my goals, but it helped me confirm that in the future I want to return to Japan and live there. Exploring the Japanese culture and lifestyle just opened my eyes and pushed me to try harder and learn Japanese. It is a hard language to learn, but I like it. In the future, I see myself running a restaurant in Tokyo or Kyoto that fuses Ecuadorian and Japanese cuisine. It would be a nice combination. I want to become a business man in Japan and be able to give job opportunities to the city people and foreigners as well. After I graduate from college I am plan on taking more Japanese classes and going to a Culinary Institute so I can learn more techniques and cultivate my knowledge so I can be on the same level as Japanese chefs and restaurant owners.

Naomi Williams (Queens College)

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How did your participation in the Kakehashi Project affect you?

This trip to Japan not only expanded my knowledge of the Japanese people and their culture, but my desire to learn more about them. Even though I had previously studied Japanese culture, actually being exposed to the culture was completely fresh and new and this trip was a period of enlightenment for me. No matter how well-written a textbook or a travel guide is, you can never truly understand another country's way of life without interaction. That is why the university visits, especially Chuo University, was highly enjoyable for me; to be able to converse with people who I can relate to (college students of similar age) made the bridge for cultural exchange more open and accessible.

How has it changed your goals and/or plans for the future?

Again, participating in the Kakehashi project has enhanced my desire to learn more about and revisit Japan. I was not planning on continuing my Japanese language studies next semester but this trip has only confirmed my desire to keep pursuing it. Without an effort to communicate on my part, maintaining and strengthening the bonds I made during my stay will surely disappear. Also, since I'm have an interest in media Studies and music I would love to come back to Japan, preferably as an intern, to learn more about their commercial culture and music marketing. Not only was I exposed to how vast their media and music industry was but how different it was from the United States'. The image and sound of Japan is nothing like I experienced in America. This is something I would definitely love to explore in the future.

Xinjun Ye (Queens College)

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This unforgettable trip is definitely a valuable experience for me. I could actually have a conversation with Japanese students about their school life, their thought about US, and Japanese culture. I started speaking Japanese to the air-hostesses and the Japanese man who was sitting next to me, since I was on the air plane to Japan. I always tried my best to speak Japanese to Japanese local people. On the plane back to New York, I've been speaking Japanese for hours with a Japanese lady who was sitting next to me. I told her about this trip and shared my feeling about Japan to her. I did feel a sense of achievement that I could actually communicate with Japanese people by using Japanese now.

To make more friends is one of my expectations in this trip and I did make a plenty of friends in these ten days. I've learned a lot from them and I'm sure we are going to learn more from each other in the future. In my opinion, the highlight of this trip is the visit to the two universities. I will never forget the smiling faces of those students. There are many international friendships were built. I'm still chatting with those friends in Japan by using LINE and Facebook. Since we are about the same age, there are more topics that we can talk about. This kind of communication makes me feel enriched.

Since I have a strong interest in Japanese culture, one of my major is East Asian Studies and Japanese is my minor, I'm planing to study abroad in Japan next year. People in Japan are very nice. I won't forget at the first night we got to Japan, people on the street were smiling and waving at us, which was full of a feeling of 'Welcome to Japan!'. This trip has deeper my interest to Japan. I had a feeling that 'This is the county I want to live in'. I want to work in Japan or let my career related to Japan in the future. This beautiful county is attracting me every minute, I can't wait to go there again. I miss Japan!

Kari Yu (Baruch College)

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Hello, my name is Kari Yu, a student from Baruch College of City University of New York. I was one of the many participants that travelled to Japan from May 20 to May 30, 2013, to experience and learn about the culture. I am grateful for this opportunity; I thank the Japan Foundation for making the Kakehashi program possible. This trip could not have been a better first time for me to fly out of the country and live out 10 days in Japan to the fullest.

My participation in the Kakehashi project was a dream come true. I thought that travelling to Japan was something that was highly unlikely to happen unless I was much older, or when I had enough money to do so. Throughout this trip, we stayed in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. Out of the three, I was most interested in Kyoto. Kyoto was half urban and half rural. You could see the greenery in the backgrounds of the city, and the modern buildings from the view of the temples and shrines. One of the guides, Yuki Onishi, told me that there is a law in Kyoto preventing buildings to be built to a certain height besides the tower and Kyoto station because they can block the greenery of the rural side. Everything was balanced out, as I even passed by a small shrine on the corner of a street!

The highlight of the trip however, was the interaction between the Japanese students in Doshisha and Chuo University. I was able to make a lot of new cool friends those two days. I am connected with them through Facebook and emailing; if they want to visit New York City, I can tour them around the city and vice versa. In addition to making relationships with Japanese students, I made even more friends with the other CUNY students. I believe most of us didn't really know each other that much before this trip besides the ones within their respective schools.

Throughout the trip, we went to many museums, temples, shrines, restaurants, stores, and saw performances like Nihon Buyo and and Rakugo. I learned a lot from each place that we went to, but I was only able to learn so much about Japan in 10 days. Hopefully I will come back to Japan to continue visiting the wonders of Japan for a longer period of time!!

Nicolle Zielaskowski (LaGuardia Community College)

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How did your participation in the Kakehashi Project affect you?

It was a dream come true to be selected for this important trip. I am honored to have being in Japan as a Youth Ambassador of the U.S. government. I am very grateful that I was chosen among others by both the U.S. and Japanese governments to participate on this journey. Visiting Japan was my goal, my dream, and a target in life. When I received e-mail from Prof. Nagano regarding this trip, I thought, 'This is my opportunity.' When I read the part which read, 'We don't encourage students who are taking math and science classes...' I felt so sad. In my case, I was taking math classes. I discussed this trip with my uncle and he said, this was an opportunity and do not waste it. He told me to read a book about success, mediocrity, and motivation. I finished reading the book and I decided to go. I prefer to try it than never too. If I were not selected, I would be happy I tried. More challenges to apply for this trip arose, my professors, my manager, and most important my mom.

I was ready to beg to my Professors to allow me to go. I was prepared to be fired or even quit my job. I was ready to go against my mother's will. I was so surprised when my Professors did not complain about the trip. My manager just said, 'Go, I won't fire you. This is educational and a part of college.' My mom did not complain at all. She wished me luck and told me to be careful. The second part of the application was very difficult because there were many things to fill in. I did my best and filled in everything asked of me. I prayed and cried with all my heart in order to be selected for this trip. I am the type of person who moves mountains, sky and earth in order to obtain my goals. My mom tends to tell me what I can or cannot do. In a few words, this project affected me in my decision and encouraged me to obtain my goals by myself and not because my mom told me to.

Since I was a child, I have fallen in love with Japanese culture. Now, I am more in love than before. I love how the cities are so clean. I love the people, the food, just everything. I noticed there were a lot of vending machines and bicycles. I love both of those things. After one of my dreams came true, I decided I want to study in Japan. I would like to continue with my studies in Japan and finish them there. Before receiving the e-mail of the trip, I was planning to study in Japan after my graduation. I really want to apply to a college and study hard in order to finish one of my goals.