GINOWAN – Three high school students from Ginowan who participated in the Think of Okinawa’s Future in the United States (TOFU) program visited the municipal office on May 9 to share their experiences in the U.S.
TOFU, sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, sends students from base-hosting municipalities in Okinawa to the U.S.
This year, 24 high school and college students aged up to 25 years old from 11 municipalities joined the program in the the second year since its launch.
From March 20 to March 26, the students visited the Department of State, White House, Japanese Embassy in Washington, United Nations Headquarters, and other places. Aino Nakayama, an 18-year-old senior at Futenma High School, said that she was touched when former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy remembered the name of the Ginowan mayor. “It made me think she takes Okinawa seriously,” she said. Nakayama also discussed the interactions she had with American students who are studying Japanese. “I think language is important, but it’s also a tool,” she said. “I want to be able to have my own opinions and convey them in my own words.” (Abridged)