We arranged some community activities for a day with Ashinaga students. Ashinaga is a great Japanese non-profit organization that helps orphaned children. Three students that live at a dormitory run by Ashinaga in Japan and won an English competition visited New York and for a day we arranged activities for them to help the local community.
In the morning along with staff from Ashinaga and NY de Volunteer, we went to a soup kitchen to feed the needy. We were all assigned different tasks, some of which were harder then others such as separating the left overs for composting.
A philosophy of Ashinaga is for those who benefit from their services to give back so it was a good experience for students to give to other needy people and engage with a different population that they would not encounter in Japan. Japan does have homeless but they are as visible and social services such as soup kitchen are not as readily available to them.
After the hard work in the morning, we headed over the the Alfred E. Smith Recreation center to teach our Explore Japanese Culture Program to their after school children. It was a great opportunity for the students to engage with local underserved children in NYC and put their English to good use. Along with our staff, they taught the children origami and played Japanese games. As it is sakura season, we prepared origami sakura to create a sakura collage for both the Ashinaga students and the Center to keep as momentos of their cross-cultural activity. We believe it is important for people to have new experiences and engage with different people as they can inspire us and promote better understanding and openness.
Good Luck to the Ashinaga students in their future studies and work!