The Japan-America Society of Hawaii (JASH) sent six Junior Ambassadors (JAs) to attend the 31 st annual Asian-Pacific Children’s Convention (APCC) in Fukuoka, Japan from July 13 – 24, 2019. The APCC has been hosted by the Fukuoka City government since 1989 in celebration of the city’s 100 th anniversary. Now in its 31 st year, the APCC has hosted over 11,000 students from all across the Asia-Pacific region and other countries across Europe and South America. The mission of the APCC is to promote international relationships among children so that they will become adults with a sense of social responsibilities for the world. In addition, the APCC is intent on helping to build a bridge between people of Japan and the international community.
After six months of homework, research and JASH’s Junior Ambassador training program, the six JAs departed on their long-awaited journey to Fukuoka accompanied by chaperone Colby Takeda and Peace Ambassador (PA) Kristen Izuo. Upon their arrival in Fukuoka, the JAs stayed at the Marine House Camp, where they were able to meet students from over 40 different delegations from across the world. They participated in a number of exchange programs and team-building activities in order to bridge the gap between people and cultures. These activities helped to deepen the JA’s understanding of cultural diversity and the need to show compassion towards those with different ideas and perspectives.
After leaving the Marine House Camp, having made new friends and precious memories, the JAs visited Kashii Elementary School where they performed hula for the entire school. That afternoon the JAs met their host families and began their home-stay and experienced a number of fun and new activities including enjoying a summer festival, trying all different kinds of food, visiting local amusement parks, malls and shrines/temples, and going to local schools with their host siblings.
As the JAs enjoyed their camp, the Peace Ambassadors including Kristen Izuo, representative from Bridge Club Hawaii, departed for a separate camp that focused on leadership development and strengthening regional Bridge Clubs (alumni organizations for former JAs). At camp, Kristen shared her ideas about how to facilitate better exchanges between Bridge Clubs and how to promote strong relationships between other countries.
Towards the end of their home-stay, all the JAs and PAs from the APCC gathered for the “We are the Bridge Festival 2019” where the JAs gave a special performance, reflecting Hawaii’s local culture by performing a hula and oli (chants), taught by Kumu Hula Blaine Kamalani Kia. Following the home-stay, the JAs returned to another camp at Global Arena and had opportunities to reconnect with all the friends they had made at the Marine House camp and participate in more bonding activities.
The delegation returned to Honolulu on July 24 and were greeted by anxious parents. Later that week JASH held a debriefing workshop to allow the delegates to share their stories, reflect on their experiences, and their next steps moving forward. The JAs expressed how the trip has impacted their lives with Anuhea Kealoha saying, “I became more independent and I met many different people from around the world. We, as Junior Ambassadors, can show kindness and make this world a better place.”
JASH would like to thank all of the wonderful staff and incredible volunteers of the APCC. JASH would also like to thank all of the volunteer host families and hopes that through the Bridge Club Hawaii the JAs can stay connected with their new friends and continue to be global citizens.
If you are interested in this program in future years, please visit the JASH website at www.jashawaii.org or contact Educational Program Director, Takako Miyazawa at email@example.com.