Konichiwa 2008’s Junior Ambassadors

Melissa Moniz
Wednesday - July 09, 2008
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After a long day of interviews and group activities, the final eight Junior Ambassadors representing Hawaii at the Asia-Pacific Children’s Convention in Fukuoka, Japan, were chosen. The select group of 11-year-olds (four boys and four girls) includes Mariah Justine Gaoiran of Holomua Elementary School and Malakai Shiraki of Palisades Elementary.

This year, a total of 55 candidates from both private and public schools applied from throughout the state. Upon submitting an application, all the students were invited to a full day of screenings to help the Japan-America Society of Hawaii select the most suitable candidates for the camp.

“We make our selection based on the interviews, and what we’re looking for are kids who have an interest in Japan,” said Elizabeth Stanton-Barrera, APCC program assistant. “Also, those who have the ability to work well with each other and ones who are leaders. So basically, the kids who are natural leaders but not they’re telling everyone else what to do.”

This year’s group of Junior Ambassadors will take part in the two-week global youth camp, where 350-plus children from more than 35 countries will interact and bridge international borders. The children also will spend a week with host Japanese families.

“Each student rooms with kids from three to four different countries, and they are basically having the chance to learn from each other,” explained Stanton-Barrera. “It really is an opportunity for the kids to really learn and develop on their own.”

The children and accompanying JASH chaperones leave today (July 9). To prepare for the trip, the students attended monthly training workshops to develop tram-building skills and learn about the APCC program.

To find out more about the program, visit www.jashawaii.org.

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