TOMODACHI Trainees Wrap Up Their Time in Boston

In December, staff members and special guests joined the ICI to celebrate the achievements of this year’s TOMODACHI trainees.

The three trainees — Yui Awai, Toshiko Kudo, and Tomoki Takara — are young Japanese people with disabilities. They spent five months in Boston via the TOMODACHI Disability Leadership Program in America. The program is generously supported by Northrop Grumman and implemented by the ICI.

This program engaged the trainees in a spectrum of activities, including an intensive orientation to the program and life in Boston, an individualized internship with a disability-focused government or community organization, weekly group seminars, and English language training.

At the awards ceremony, each trainee presented an independent project that they investigated in their internship.

Yui presented on how students with disabilities in the United States access college and how they advocate for themselves. Toshiko talked about making public transportation systems accessible to users, including people with disabilities. Tomomi presented practical application of universal design to make public physical spaces accessible to all.

The three trainees also talked about what their Boston experience meant to them as young disability leaders, and how they will use what they learned to make a positive impact after they return to Japan.

2016 TOMODACHI Trainees Toshiko Kudo, Tomomi Takata, and Yui Awai presenting their internship projects.

Several distinguished guests joined in celebrating the trainees’ achievements. This included Mr. Rokuichiro Michii and Ms. Mari Fujii, Consul General and Vice Consul of Japan in Boston; Ms. Kurby Hodges of Northrop Grumman; and Ms. Atsuko Fish, Ms. Ginny Fordham, and Professor Paul Watanabe from the U.S.-Japan Council New England Chapter.

First row (L-R): Miwa Tanabe, ICI, with the 2016 TOMODACHI Trainees Yui Awai, Tomomi Takata, and Toshiko Kudo. Second row (L-R): Mari Fujii and Rokuichiro Michii, Vice Consul and Consul General of Japan in Boston, Dr. Bill Kiernan, ICI Director, Mya Fisher, U.S.-Japan Council, and Dr. Heike Boeltzig-Brown, ICI.

Students from the Berklee College of Music, including two TOMODACHI Suntory Music Fellows, also performed at the awards ceremony.

Kudos to Yui, Toshiko, and Tomomi!

Learn more about the TOMODACHI program.

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