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300 Japanese students at Cal for leadership program

Students toss a ball on Memorial Glade during a break from class and activities.
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Three hundred Japanese high school students walked through Sather Gate on Tuesday, snapping pictures of the UC Berkeley campus on their iPads and preparing for a three-week experience in community development, entrepreneurship, and cultural exchange.

The teenagers are all from the earthquake-devastated Tohoku region, and were selected from a pool of 2,000 applicants to participate in the Tomodachi SoftBank Leadership Program. The program, funded by telecommunication company SoftBank and organized by global exchange organization Ayusa, is part of a larger effort by the US embassy in Japan and the US-Japan Council to strengthen cultural and economic ties between the two countries after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

“The Tomodachi Initiative, broadly speaking, is to invest in the younger people of Japan and to connect them with the younger generation in the US,” said John Roos, US ambassador to Japan. … Continue reading »

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