Toshiba Youth Club Asia Volume 7 was held during the period from December 23, 2022 to March 25, 2023. The selected high-school students from ASEAN countries and Japan were divided into four teams that participated in one for four intensive sessions, Day 1 to Days 4, each held with an interval of three to four weeks between them. In addition to their individual learning, students spent the final weeks working together as a team to conceive their DREAM projects 2030, and announced them at the final presentation ceremony held on March 25, 2023.
Resuming TYCA as online program
Covid-19 and the subsequent difficulty in inviting students from outside Japan forced a halt to the original program in 2020 and 2021, and during that time the focus shifted to supporting past participants, the TYCA alumni.
While Covid-19 has not been vanquished, TYCA resumed after this two-year hiatus, as TYCA Vol. 7. It preserved TYCA’s basic objective of fostering the next-generation leaders in Asia toward realizing a sustainable society, but the special program’s entire format was reconfigured to be conducted entirely online. The overall structure was completely reviewed, and the flow and individual component sessions were reconstructed.
Basic structure of Vol. 7
Vol. 7’s core program consisted of webinars and workshops.
Webinars were conducted by prominent Japanese leaders in education and business, active in the forefront of technology and innovation; in social entrepreneurship; and in complementary partnerships between Japan and ASEAN countries. The lecturers were Professor Naoki Ishibashi of Musashino University; Ms. Eriko Yamaguchi, CEO and Chief Designer of Motherhouse Co., Ltd, a major Japanese baggage and fashion brand; and Ms. Mio Harahara, Representative Director of Social Match Co., Ltd., a Tokyo-based company with the mission of helping Japanese and ASEAN companies to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by matching their respective strengths.
In workshops held after the webinar, the 22 high-school students who joined from across ASEAN countries and Japan were grouped into four teams with different nationalities and ages, and each group discussed the key takeaways from the lectures, and how they could build what they learned into their future vision and activities, and develop their respective capabilities. They held earnest dialogues in which they shared the main social agenda of their major concern, referring to the SDGs, and discussed how they would like to contribute to a better 2030, assuming that they meet then once again, as a team.
Twelve advisers, appointed by ASCOJA (ASEAN Council of Japan Alumni) from each country and representing the Japanese schools, were present throughout the program to observe and provide necessary advice and consultation to the students, based on their individual profession, experience and expertise.
Ten volunteers from among TYCA’s alumni community also took part in the workshop sessions, where they offered support, acted as facilitators and became the driving force behind the success of the program.
TYCA’s past participants (alumni) came back and supported Vol.7 by facilitating the workshops.
DAY 1. Kick-Off & Getting to Know Each Other (December 23, 2022)
Students and advisers of ASEAN and Japan met together, finally.
DAY1 started by welcome speeches by the organizers.
1st ice breaking game: “word chain”
2nd ice breaking game: “Create SDG story”
Participants from ASEAN countries and Japan gathered for an online meeting for the first time, with high expectations of the program. The event began with a warm welcome from the organizers, followed by self-introductions from all participants. Students expressed their motivation to join this program, their key sustainability concerns, and what they aimed to accomplish through the program. Learning from diverse viewpoints and other cultures was one of the highest motivators.
Teams were announced, Teams T, Y, C, and A, each team moved onto unique icebreakers before taking on the first task of creating unique stories of their own related to the SDGs. An initially tense mood became more relaxed as the participants came out of themselves, creating a solid base for the teamwork of the days to come.
DAY 2. Keynote & Workshop (January 28, 2023)
The full-fledged program began on Day 2. Professor Naoki Ishibashi, from the Department of Data Science, Faculty of Data Science, Musashino University, delivered a keynote on various initiatives he has implemented using the power of data and fully utilizing information and communications technology (ICT), including the comprehensive renovation of an ICT platform at a private museum in Tokyo to provide an enhanced user experience.
Professor Ishibashi noted all of his projects were first motivated and driven by their own questions about society’s status quo or on universal issues such as energy. His mindset and thinking process for creative innovation served as a profound source of inspiration for all the participants. In the latter half of his session, Professor Ishibashi facilitated a workshop on the Question Focus Technique (QFT), one of the latest methods which is rapidly prevailing as an effective way to logically step up the critical thinking processes of individuals in both education and business. After given a task entitled “Future Shape of your country in 2030,” students started by producing questions on their own, and experienced the key QFT refinement steps of improving, modifying or converting to finally came up with concrete action plans for their resolution.
Professor Ishibashi‘s keynote address set the firm tone for the subsequent programs.
Professor Ishibashi explained how data science can cause impact to society.
Students were given a task called “Question Focus” to think about the future of their home country.
Students finally drew their action plans, based on the questions they produced and examined.
DAY 3. Webinar & Workshop (February 18, 2023)
Ms. Yamaguchi, on the right, shared her grand vision and sent a warm message to the students, “Remain true to your heart.”
On Day 3, with each participant’s experience of Day 2 in mind, the main theme shifted to social innovation and entrepreneurship. The webinar featured one of Japan’s most famous entrepreneurs, Ms. Eriko Yamaguchi, CEO and Chief Designer of Motherhouse Co., Ltd, a major fashion brand. She shared the difficulties she faced in starting her business from scratch and making bags in Bangladesh, and the thoughts and actions that have propelled her work up to the present. She stressed her company vision of building a global brand from developing countries has helped expand the scope of business to include Nepal, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Myanmar as manufacturing bases for different types of fashion products. During the Q&A session that followed the lecture, students could directly ask her questions an interactive experience that offered insights into the entrepreneurial spirit.
Ms. Yamaguchi explained about Motherhouse philosophy.
Ms. Yamaguchi’s answers gave strong motivations for the future to the students.
The questions ranged from mindset necessary to achieve breakthroughs in challenging environments; a winning formula in the highly competitive fast fashion industry; optimum use of local resources in Asia; and how to share a vision that overcomes language barriers. Ms. Yamaguchi’s sincere answers to their questions and her philosophy of trusting and utilizing local resources, and her energetic approach to overcoming numerous challenges, were the source of an invaluable lesson for all. In the latter half of the day, after sharing insights from the webinar with each other, students further explored their interests, and examined how they could utilize their learnings from Ms. Yamaguchi in their future careers, and in their team projects.
Ms. Yamaguchi’s lecture offered many insights for the following workshop session.
DAY 4. Webinar & Workshop (March 11, 2023)
Ms. Harahata’s powerful message gave students courage.
Social Match Co. aims to solve social issues through business matching.
The Day 4 webinar featured Ms. Mio Harahata, CEO of Social Match Co., Ltd., a young entrepreneur striving to solve social problems by matchmaking Asian and Japanese companies. Ms. Harahata told a story of how she built up her own company, motivated by a social entrepreneur in Cambodia, and how the business of matching examples of Japanese and ASEAN companies has now expanded to cover almost all the ASEAN countries, in such areas as energy, education, poverty, nutrition, medicine, and gender equality.
Students was amazed by her creative solutions to address the social issues typified by the sustainable development goals, founded on her belief that mutual cooperation and leveraging each country’s characteristics can generate prosperity and win-win partnerships for both sides. Ms. Harahata’s company vision of “Solving social problems in order to create a world where everyone can live with a smile.” has earned the sympathy of the students. In the workshop’s latter half, students consolidated what they learned from Ms. Harahata, and began to construct their dream project 2030, a key task that they had to announce on DAY 5, the final presentation. Each member shared their goals and dreams and their individual uniqueness and strengths, and discussed how to merge them into a single project.
Ms. Harahata’s message provided great hints to the next-generation youth.
During the workshop, students focused on putting together their ideas into a single project proposal by each team.
After the Day4 finished, each team continued to hold online team meetings among the members, refining and preparing project presentations in readiness for DAY 5.
DAY 5. Final Presentations (March 25, 2023)
Now the day has finally come for the students to summarize their four-months takeaways from TYCA and present their team’s dream project proposal for 2030.
Guests that included representatives of ASEAN embassies in Tokyo, ASCOJA executives from each country, and parents of students, were invited to observe the final presentations.
Organizers and Prof. Ishibashi sent hearty cheers to the students.
Following introductory remarks by Mr. Keisuke Omori, President of Toshiba International Foundation, the participants heard a congratulatory message from Ms. Shinji Watanabe, Director of the Exchange Program Division, Foreign Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Each team then took the stage and presented their dream projects, prepared through extensive discussions, and students also shared their individual ideas and aspirations for the future. The social issues addressed in these projects touched upon quality education, gender equality, climate change, poverty, and food concerns. The presentation themes of the four teams were:
TEAM T: Create a free E-learning platform in the local languages of the ASEAN countries.
TEAM Y: International Project to Spread Awareness on Climate Action, Poverty and Well-being
TEAM C: Spread Smart Farming to Attain Zero Hunger and Economic Growth
TEAM A: A platform to Provide Accessible Educational Courses and Showcase Cultures of ASEAN Countries
ASCOJA advisors, who supported throughout 5 day sessions, warmly congratulated students for their achievements.
Mr. Matsuoka, Secretary General of ASJA International, gave closing remarks.
Following the presentations, a certificate award ceremony took place. Participants echoed that the four-month program, during which they learned many exciting lessons together with their peers, offered them invaluable, unrivalled opportunities. They cheered each other on and expressed their desire to meet their newfound friends in person in the future one day.
Toshiba Youth Club Asia Vol. 7 was concluded with resounding success.