The 2015 Tohoku Team (Japan)

TOMODACHI High School Alumni from Tohoku

Shigetatsu Nishigai

Shigetatsu is a 15 year old male student from Miyagi who lives with his father, a university professor, and his mother, who is a part-time teacher at a university. He and his family lived in China for two years, which helped him define some of his goals for the future. He speaks Japanese, English, and Chinese. He enjoys swimming, badminton, photography, and playing the Shinobue (a traditional Japanese instrument). He was 11 years old when the great earthquake struck, and although he did not lose his own home or any family members, he visited the devastated area and was shocked to witness how an earthquake could change people’s lives so cruelly. These events and his experiences in China made him want to be a social change maker. Shigetatsu participated in the TOMODACHI-MUFG international exchange program, which took place in Los Angeles for two weeks last summer. The experience sparked his interest in volunteerism and civic engagement. He aspires to be a social entrepreneur who can help to improve the lives of others.

Fumiya Otani

Fumiya is a 17 year old male, who lives in Iwate with his mother and younger sister. He is an excellent public speaker, and has won numerous prizes in speech contests (in both Japanese and English), as well as in presentation competitions. At age 16, he traveled to the United States as part of the TOMODACHI Summer SoftBank Leadership Program 2014. During the three weeks of the program, “endless waves of shock hit [Fumiya] like a tsunami,” and made him question himself and what role he could play to help those still struggling to deal with the aftereffects of the earthquake and tsunami. As a result of his participation, he created a volunteer group, with 12 other high school students from his hometown, called “TOMOrrow Project,” with the goal of inspiring high school students in Iwate to help those most affected by the 2011 earthquake. Fumiya also loves basketball and belongs to the English Club.