Shinzen Nikkei Youth Goodwill Program
SHINZEN USA NIKKEI YOUTH GOODWILL PROGRAM
Shinzen in Japanese means international goodwill or amity. This cross-cultural exchange program promotes the values of fair play and competition, while fostering ties between the U.S. and Japan, and our Japanese and Japanese American communities. Through sports, youth exchanges, touring and homestays, our young ambassadors build stronger relationships with the people of Japan, while learning about their cultural heritage, traditions and identity.
In 1995, the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California (JCCCNC) and the Office of the Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco began discussing ways to create a more dynamic and meaningful exchange program between the U.S. and Japan. It was agreed that although there are a substantial number of traditional cultural and intellectual exchanges, there exists a greater need for meaningful dialogue and goodwill exchange between youth in Japan and Japanese American youth.
Since the inaugural visit to Japan in 1997, the Shinzen USA Nikkei Youth Goodwill Program (Shinzen Program) has been able to provide unique opportunities for not only the exchange of friendly competition, but also for building a foundation for the exchange of ideas and important values of our young people today, ensuring a strong future for our U.S.-Japan relations.
2016-17 Shinzen Program
The JCCCNC is proud to announce a special (two-year) 2016-17 Shinzen Nikkei Youth Goodwill Program to celebrate the 110th Anniversary of San Francisco's Japantown and commemorate the 5th Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, culminating with a trip to Japan in the summer of 2017.
The selected participants for the 2016-17 Shinzen Program include:
Girls Team: Coach Rachelle Hata and players, Miya Chan, Charlene Tonai Din, Tomi Eijima, Alyssa Ikuma, Kristin Katayama, Taylor Matoba, Izumi Murase, Lauren Noguchi, Taylor Noguchi and Olivia Yoshii.
Boys Team: Coach Ryan Baba and players, Aiden Fujimoto, Ryan Kawamura, Connor Nakamura, Stephen Nakamura, Tyler Tsudama, Jake Tsutaoka, Josh Tsutaoka and Kellen Uyeda.
While past Shinzen tours have gone to Tokyo, Kobe, Osaka and Hiroshima, the 2016-17 trip is unique because the youth ambassadors will also visit the Tohoku region. There, they will witness the devastation of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami as well as how residents and communities are rebuilding their lives.
Since last year, the youth have devoted considerable time to tour preparation. In addition to weekly basketball practices, they attend workshops covering such topics as Japanese customs, language and etiquette, San Francisco Japantown history and leadership development. Their final project is to create a family history book in order to preserve the community’s stories and for the young people to better understand their Japanese American (JA) identity.
Shinzen has also involved the Bay Area through community service and fundraising events. The youth ambassadors will fly out at the end of July to play in goodwill basketball games, stay in the homes of Japanese families, and explore various parts of Japan.
For more information, call (415) 567-5505 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The thirteenth year of the Shinzen USA Nikkei Youth Goodwill Sports Program saw nearly 80 participants from the Bay Area - 21 youth basketball players, their families and staff - traveled to Japan for a week-long grassroots exchange trip.
The 2009 program theme “Shinzen Forever,” was a reminder that although the program in its current state is ending, the friendships and bonds created by the spirit of Shinzen will always remain.
“When we first started, I didn’t understand the meaning of goodwill and friendship, I just thought, basketball and Japan - that sounds like fun, but it was way more than that. We volunteered, went to events, we learned about the bomb in Hiroshima and played with the kids at the Kodomo Home (orphanage)...I learned that friendships can spread and maintain for probably my whole life. These friendships that I made in Japan will always be remembered.”
- Amada Joo, Santa Clara
Highlights of the 2009 Program included: youth homestays in Osaka and Kobe, participating in the 50th Anniversary of the San Francisco-Osaka Sister City Relationship (2007) Plaque Unveiling, creating crafts and dancing with the children of Nagata Kodomo Home and being the guest of Toyosaki Jr. High School in Osaka, getting a tour the school, playing goodwill games and being treating to a mini-concert by their band. Click here to view some highlights of the trip.
2007 was an exciting year for the Shinzen Program - 22 players and their families traveled to Hiroshima, Osaka and Kobe, Japan from July 27-August 5, 2007. The highlight was the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the San Francisco-Osaka Sister City relationship, which included a visit with Osaka Mayor Seki at City Hall.
Press Release: 2007 Shinzen POST Press Release
Jared Wong (Moraga), whose family originated from Hiroshima, was overwhelmed by the visit to Hiroshima stating that, “Going to the Hiroshima Peace Museum and the Sadako Memorial Statue was life-changing. The museum showed me how devastating a single act could be and how it could have been prevented. Those two monuments taught me that the relationships we were building with the Japanese kids are actually really important as we grow up and take more control of our surroundings.”
“When I met my Osaka host family for the first time, I was nervous. I was worried that I would do the wrong thing and insult them or embarrass myself. They welcomed me into their home and made it clear that I could feel comfortable because I was now a part of their family. They were sweet and generous, and we had a lot of fun. Even though it was hard to communicate at times, it was one of the best experiences I have ever had in my life, and I cannot wait until I have the opportunity to see my host family again.”
- Katie Gong, San Francisco