Sharing Ashinaga Mission and Japanese Tea at 2018 Sakura Matsuri

For the second year in a row, Ashinaga USA participated in the infamous Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom Festival) in Washington DC on April 14, 2018 along Pennsylvania Avenue amongst fellow exhibitors celebrating springtime and Japanese culture. At the Ashinaga USA tent, staff as well as our student representative enjoyed serving tea and sharing Ashinaga’s mission to hundreds of tent visitors.

We served five varieties of tea, each from a different geographical region in Japan, a salute to Ashinaga’s grassroots foundation in Japan. Though a rather warm day for the beginning of spring, visitors enjoyed hot Matcha, Jasmine (Sanpin) tea, deep steamed green tea, black bean tea, and buckwheat tea.

Visitors to the tent were particularly curious and impressed by the geographical extent to which the Ashinaga mission has spread over the years. Several visitors wanted to hear how a Japanese NGO could now be supporting higher education access to Sub Saharan African students in North America. “I really enjoyed talking with people who came by our tent and sharing about Ashinaga,” reflected Blessing, our Ashinaga USA student representative. Blessing, who is near the end of her freshman year at Princeton University, enthusiastically talked to passersby about her background and how she intends to contribute to the development of Africa long-term- by building affordable medical equipment for hospitals.

Visitors learned about Ashinaga through conversations with Blessing, staff, flyers, and the recently published Ashinaga Poetry Anthology featuring creative words from Ashinaga scholars worldwide. We were grateful that many visitors also donated to our cause, or communicated that they were looking forward to learning more about Ashinaga online. We are also grateful to the Japan Society for allowing us to partake in this event.