So I’m off to Japan for a little under three months where I will be interning for the Japanese NGO Ashinaga. Ashinaga’s mission is to “provide educational and emotional support to orphaned students worldwide.” My jobs from what I can understand is to act as a source of support for the students, teach English lessons, and work on developing their Student Ambassador program.
The Student Ambassador (SA) program is how I first heard about Ashinaga. The SA programs are small networks within universities (or student organizations in simpler terms) that are committed to helping spread Ashinaga’s values and missions around the world. Last year was the first year of the SA program and I, kind of on a whim, decided to just get involved in the organization.
It was activities night at McGill and, like everyone else at activities night, I think I signed up for more than 30 clubs that night. But for some reason I was drawn more to Ashinaga, despite it only have two members (the then president and vice president) and what seemed to be a lack of direction. I think I saw its potential and thought it was a good opportunity to get involved. To try to help make a difference in the new community in which I found myself.
I was definitely right about all that.
But, I in no means ever thought I would become its president by the end of the year – something I’ve been told is a bit uncommon for a first year (or freshman, for all my Americans). And I definitely didn’t think that the NGO student club would actually be a huge international NGO with enough funding and commitment to this SA program that they can fly out their interns and subsidize their living expenses.
So, after only my first year at McGill university completed, I find myself sitting in the Chicago airport waiting to board my flight to Tokyo, waiting to go on my next journey, mildly in awe/straight-out bemused as to how I even got here. With an open mind, I am truly excited to see what happens this summer and how I find this new culture I am about to be immersed in.