Globalize DC Joins the Blue Star of Life at the Kennedy Center

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?

Blue Star of Life Map.
To read some of our student blogs on their “The Blue Star of Life” experience, click here and here and here.

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An Evening of Tap and Koto at the Kennedy Center

On October 18, at the Kennedy Center’s generous invitation, students from our Japanese Plus and Japan in DC programs had the opportunity to experience a unique cultural event, called “Japanese Connections.” The program featured two ground-breaking Japanese artists. Kazunori Kumagai, a tap dancer, performed in collaboration with a jazz trio — Masa Shimizu (guitar), Samuel Torres (percussion), and special guest, Alex Blake (bass). Then virtuoso musician, Yumi Kurosawa, played the traditional koto with hip hop dancer and Dancing with the Stars contestant, Virgil Gadson. The performance took place in the Kennedy Center’s renovated Terrace Theater, and was a tribute to the government and people of Japan, who supported the original opening of the space. The impressive program demonstrated the power of artistic collaboration across cultures – and left our students amazed, emotionally moved, and motivated to learn more! For many of our students, this was their first visit to the Kennedy Center.

Even more exciting, before the performance, our students were treated to a special discussion with Kazunori Kumagai, who shared his inspirational life story and answered questions about his career pathway. He gave us a whole new way of understanding the art of tap dancing. Then the students heard from Reiko Sudo, a renowned Japanese textile artist responsible for the beautiful art installation, “Fantasy in Japan Blue,” on display at the Kennedy Center (October 3-November 12, 2017).

Read our student writing here, here, here, and more in our Student Blog.

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Seeking New Japanese Language Teachers

Globalize DC is growing its Japanese language programs in the 2017-2018 school year!!

We are seeking one or two new dynamic part-time Japanese teachers to join our team. Interested? Download the job announcement here:

2017 Japanese Teacher Recruitment

We will fill the position as soon as we find the right candidate(s). Please share this announcement with anyone you think might be interested.

Feel free to contact if you have any questions.