Ashinaga USA Winter Tsudoi

Ashinaga USA held its 2019 Winter Tsudoi from January 10-12, gathering together 16 scholars studying at colleges and universities nationwide. It was the largest such program since the organization’s offices were moved last spring from Washington, DC, to New York.

This Tsudoi’s theme was “Measuring Success.” Together, scholars explored an array of ways they could measure success beyond the traditional metric of grade point average, encouraging them to think about other important kinds of success beyond the academic, such as personal, spiritual, or professional.

Several external guests generously lent their time and expertise to this effort, including Erana Stennett, director of the Bloomberg Africa Media Initiative; Naya Mondo, founder of Elerai and member of Ashinaga’s Kenjin-Tatsujin International Advisory Council; and Mica Henderson, LMSW. Ms. Stennett inspired scholars as she discussed the work she has done on the African continent with Bloomberg, and Dr. Mondo provided scholars with important advice on doing “a good thing” versus “the right thing.” Ms. Henderson spent valuable time with scholars on the second day of the Tsudoi facilitating a four-hour workshop focusing on mental health. Together they explored the theme of measuring success using a variety of discussion tools and activities. The scholars even learned about mental health resources available in each of their home countries.

Scholars also visited the Headquarters of the United Nations for a tour, and had the opportunity to participate in yet another amazing reception at the home of Julie Azuma, founder of Different Roads to Learning and member of the Kenjin-Tatsujin Council. Supporters, friends, and family of Ashinaga USA celebrated at the gathering with food, conversation, and a service activity to support Tsuru for Solidarity, a project created by Japanese Americans. At the reception, scholars and staff learned how to create origami tsuru (paper cranes).

Dr. Mondo, Ms. Henderson, and Ms. Azuma all joined Ashinaga USA for the August 2019 Orientation Tsudoi for first-year scholars. We are grateful for their continued support of our program!

Two of the three Ashinaga USA scholars who will be graduating in May were able to attend the Winter Tsudoi: Juniour from DePauw University and Lerato from Mount Holyoke College. Juniour and Lerato acted as student leaders throughout the weekend, and presented their finalized Ashinaga Proposals to the group while providing advice and reflections of personal, academic, and professional triumphs and obstacles they experienced along their AAI journey.

This most recent Tsudoi was an exciting way to gather many of our Ashinaga USA scholars, several of whom had not seen each other since the last Winter Tsudoi in December 2018, and most of whom had never met the current first-year scholars. Considering the vastness of the US, we truly cherish opportunities like Tsudoi where we are able to physically bring staff and scholars together. We look forward to reconnecting again at the next Tsudoi, and hope to share the successes (in all forms) of our scholars, including the obstacles they have faced and lessons they have learned along the way.