Ashinaga Scholars Join HelloWorld Programs for the Second Year

HelloWorld Inc, with the sponsorship of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. and the support of Odakyu Electric Railway Co., Ltd. offered participation to its cultural exchange programs free of charge to a group of high school students receiving educational support from Ashinaga Foundation.

Following last year’s event in 2023, this is the second time this pro-bono initiative with Ashinaga Foundation has been held. With the goal of expanding the program to even more students than the previous year, on January 6th, 2024 HelloWorld welcomed 23 Ashinaga Scholars to join a 3-day long cultural exchange, starting with HelloWorld Rogaining on the first day and followed by a 24-hours HelloWorld Cultural Exchange Program on January 7th-8th with international families from 12 countries.

About Ashinaga Foundation

Ashinaga Foundation provides educational support and emotional care to young people who have lost one or both of their parents worldwide. This support enables scholars to overcome the obstacles faced in their lives, to advance in their education, and to become agents of social change.

For more information on Ashinaga Foundation, visit this page.

Recent years have shown a growth in experience disparity, as it is increasingly difficult for children from disadvantaged households to participate in high quality educational opportunities, mainly because of economical struggles. The difficulties they have encountered have grown significantly post the COVID pandemic, and cultural exchanges opportunities are no exception.

With the mission to create a world in which all children have access to high quality educational opportunities, HelloWorld has created the Machinaka Fund initiative, a fundraise that thanks to the many partner organizations and individual donors can provide children from disadvantaged background with such opportunities free of charge.

For the second year, HelloWorld has decided to offer exchange opportunities free of charge to scholars of Ashinaga Foundation coming from all over Japan. Some of the participants this time around were from Ishikawa Prefecure, which had directly affected by the magnitude 7,6 earthquake that happened on January 1st 2024. Some students shared how they felt comforted by the Host Families, that with their warm hospitality made the students “feel strong” and “reassured”.

Let’s take a deeper look into the program!

■ Day 1: HelloWorld Rogaining in Shinjuku Chuo Park

The participants joined English Speakers and enjoyed solving mysteries and missions together such as recording videos and taking pictures of memorable places at the park. The venue, Shinjuku Chuo Park, was kindly provided by Odakyu Electric Railway Co., Ltd.

■ Day 2-3: HelloWorld Cultural Exchange Program

On the day 2 and 3, the student’s enjoyed a home stay experience with 10 host families from 12 countries.

They enjoyed learning about new cultures while joining the families in their daily lives.

Despite the initial shyness, the short experience was full of interaction and fun activities. Those included board games, baking together and discovering their respective cultures.

Comment from Yu Takahashi, Project Manager (HelloWorld)

I was very surprised to see that not only students from Kanto participated but also from so many different prefectures. They were very excited and they surprised me by how much they were actively communicating with the English Speakers. In the end of the program, they wrote a ‘thank you’ card to the host families, and it was moving to see how much they wrote and how this experience meant a lot to them. It felt like an honor to participate in this project, as many children from this experience wouldn’t have this chance without this program.

This was possible through the sponsorship of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc, the support of Odakyu Electric Railway Co., Ltd. in providing a venue, and of course the participation of Host Families. The Host Families actively wanted to join specifically for this HelloWorld Cultural Exchange experience with Ashinaga Foundation, as they thought it was an amazing idea. As some of the host parents said, I believe this experience can spread the children’s wings into the world and made their life choices wider. It was great to have a bigger number of students to join us this year compared to last year, and expand it to high school students. I’m excited about this project and glad to be able to expand it to other areas, such as Kansai, even further in the future years.

Comment from Host Family and Guest

“The best thing about this program was knowing about the future dreams of the kids, talking to them just like you are their moms, learning things from them too and interacting with them. It gave me the chance to know how teenagers talk or act and have an idea about their generation making me understand their perspectives.

Host Parent

I was so insecure because I didn’t think my English was good, but through this program of HelloWorld, i realized that learning English means more than learning a language, using gestures and communicating with my host family. I want to speak English more and more from now on! And I love English now.

Ashinaga Scholar

HelloWorld’s Mission

In pursuit of its long-term vision to “create a society where it is normal to have a friend from every country in the world”, HelloWorld offers  “Machinaka Ryugaku” also known as HelloWorld Cultural Exchange, a program where Japanese individuals can stay at the homes of international residents of Japan and experience studying abroad without having to leave the country. HelloWorld also offers “Machinaka Rogaining”, a scavenger-hunt activity in which participants walk around the city with people from all over the world and communicate in English to solve missions.

HelloWorld’s goal is to help children broaden their perspectives and cultivate an open mind to diversity by providing high-quality English learning and exchange opportunities to a wide range of people.

This program was made possible thanks to the kind sponsorship of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. and the support of Odakyu Electric Railway Co., Ltd.

HelloWorld’s mission to create a world in which all children have access to high quality educational opportunities is continued through the Machinaka Fund initiative. If you want to learn more about the Machinaka fund, you can visit this page.