In January, JASH selected six 11-year old students (three boys and three girls) from across the state to represent Hawaii as Junior Ambassadors (JAs) at the 23rd Asian-Pacific Children’s Convention (APCC), which will be held in Fukuoka, Japan, from July 15-27, 2011. Hosted by the Fukuoka based NPO by the same name, the APCC promotes international relationships between children with the goal of them becoming adults with a strong social responsibility for the world. A total of 222 children from 43 countries and cities throughout the Asia-Pacific region have been invited to participate this year. The students will travel to Japan with a JASH volunteer chaperone, Daniel Hwang, as parents are not allowed to accompany the JAs.
After a long day of interviews and team-activities held at the JASH office, the final six JAs were selected: Jocelyn Bonilla (Holomua Elementary), Shyen Hirabayashi (Aina Haina Elementary), Betsy Wo (Punahou), Kevan Elias (Hanahau’oli School), Ian Shigezawa (Maryknoll), and Kailoa Akaka (Aina Haina Elementary).
When the JAs arrive in Fukuoka, the first day will be a Global Exchange Camp where all APCC delegates will have a chance to interact with each other. The next ten days will then be spent in a home-stay with Japanese host families.
The students will spend one Saturday each month from now until July preparing for their trip to Fukuoka. The workshops are designed to develop teamwork skills and build students’ knowledge about Japan, Hawaii-Japan ties, cultural etiquette and the 42 other countries and cities that will be sending delegates to the Convention. The Hawaii delegation will also be performing a hula, taught by Shayna Kim, daughter of Makua Dori Kim, a Hawaiian studies teacher at Aina Haina Elementary.
The first workshop was held on Saturday, March 5, 2011. The 2011 Junior Ambassadors got to know each other and learned more about their responsibilities as a JA. The 2011 JAs and parents also had a chance to meet the 2010 delegates to hear about their experiences and perspectives from participating last year.
The following Saturday, on March 12, the six Junior Ambassadors and their families had the opportunity to get together again to learn more about Japan and the Pacific at the Honolulu Festival. What a unique opportunity for the kids to learn more about Japan while getting to know each other better!