On Tuesday, October 31, eight students from our “Japanese Plus” and “Japan in DC” programs represented DC youth in a very special “Blue Star of Life” Ceremony at the Kennedy Center, organized to commemorate President John F. Kennedy’s 100th birthday and to promote world peace and environment conservation. “The Blue Star of Life” is a large blue and white globe-shaped porcelain vase, designed and created by Japanese artist Yasuhiko Shirakata. The original “Blue Star of Life” vase has been on display at the European Headquarters at the United Nations in Geneva since 1995. In 2015, the Organizing Committee of the “Blue Star of Life” donated a vase to the Kennedy Center, representing the long-standing friendship between the US and Japan. It is currently on display outside the Terrace Theater.
Globalize DC was honored and thrilled to be invited to identify DCPS and DC charter high school students involved in our Japan programs to take part in the October 31 event. Their Japanese counterparts represented different Japanese universities and one high school. The day began with an official ceremony held in the Terrace Theater Lobby. Chidera Obiwuma, from Banneker Academic High School, served as co-emcee. Jeffrey Jenkins, from Dunbar Senior High School, gave a speech on behalf of our DC students. Pascale Shears (Washington Latin PCS) read a message from former Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy, Jonah Nguyen-Conyers (DC International) read a message from the Director of the Peace Corps, and Tara Martin (Banneker) offered a toast at the reception that followed the formal program. Other Japanese Plus/Japan in DC students in attendance were Jazmin Angel-Guzman (Banneker), Maria Garcia (McKinley), and Bryson Torgovitsky (Washington Latin). All students – DC and Japanese – participated in dropping pebbles in the vase, symbolizing the collective will of a new generation of Japanese and DC students to work for peace and environmental conservation.
Following the official morning program and lunch at the Kennedy Center, all students and chaperones traveled to the Japanese Ambassador’s Residence for a special tour, and then moved to the Embassy of Japan for student discussions on topics selected by the students themselves. In small groups they addressed Gender, Education, Environment, and Technology, and shared their ideas with the larger group. This was followed by an opportunity for the Japanese students to share information with our DC students about their lives as university students, their majors, and career goals. The long day ended with dinner at Tony Cheng’s Restaurant in Chinatown. This was a very rewarding, provocative, and intellectually stimulating experience for our DC group.
And our students were treated to one more surprise – their names were imprinted on a new map created by “Blue Stars of Life.” See?