Orientation Tsudoi in NYC provided diverse programming for incoming scholars

During Ashinaga USA’s orientation Tsudoi for our fifth cohort of incoming first-year college students, scholars were able to participate in a diverse range of programming. Our Student Relations Team started by helping scholars with some of the logistical tasks of moving to a new country, such as opening bank accounts and purchasing cell phone plans.

Our scholars also heard from distinguished guests throughout Tsudoi. Dr. Naya Mondo, a member of Ashinaga’s Kenjin-Tatsujin International Advisory Council, offered great insight about her own experience as an international college student when she came to the US from Kenya, and discussed how her college experience shaped her life then, as well as the impact it has had on her since. She is now the founder and CEO of Elerai, a company that works to implement technology solutions for rural and under-resourced areas in Rwanda, Kenya and other parts of the African continent. Dr. Mondo serves as a great example of how we hope our scholars’ experience at college in the US will have a positive impact on their future.

Mica Henderson, LMSW, also held a session with our scholars that focused on mental health. She was able to speak very candidly to them about the nature of mental health, and how important it is in relation to the significant transition they are making by beginning university abroad. Ms. Henderson stressed the valuable support universities can provide to students who seek support regarding mental health on their campuses throughout their university career. This session was the first time some of our scholars had the opportunity to have an in-depth conversation about mental health, and many came away with new perspectives on taking time for themselves and the importance of checking in on how they are feeling.

In addition, Ashinaga scholars, staff, and supporters had the chance to attend a welcome party and reception hosted by members of our Kenjin-Tatsujin International Advisory Council. The party, hosted by Council member Julie Azuma, allowed our scholars to connect with some of the supporters and donors who advocate on behalf of Ashinaga. They also had the opportunity to try Japanese food for the first time!

Another reception was hosted by Prof. Mieko Ikegame, Former Director, United Nation’s Office of Under Secretary General and Special Advisor on Africa. Prof. Ikegame spoke with our students about her background and extensive work with the United Nations’ initiatives in Africa, and led an interactive discussion on the history and future of the African continent. Through her work with the UN, Prof. Ikegame has visited almost all of the home countries of our incoming scholars. Other UN staff members were also in attendance, and the evening finished with a lovely performance from the United Nations Singers, a choral group made up of current and former UN staffers.

Orientation Tsudoi has now concluded, and our scholars have made their way to their new homes for the next four years. They will surely face new challenges on their paths to becoming future leaders for Africa. We are excited to witness their progress and support their higher education journeys in the US.