The 2017 DC Team

Our 2017 DC TOMODACHI team members were all selected from Globalize DC’s new Japanese Plus program, an afterschool Japanese language and culture program for DC public and charter school students.

Raven Bluford

Raven is a 16-year old student at Banneker Academic HS. Her favorite subjects are math and science, and she aspires to be an anesthesiologist or a surgeon. She does not see herself as a sports or artsy person, but enjoys badminton. She volunteers at a daycare center and a hospital, where she shadows emergency room doctors and assists patients in little tasks. She is also in her school’s Electric Car Club, where she builds an electric car for competition. As a first time international traveler, Raven is excited that the program will allow her to look at her own daily lifestyle and country through a new light. She also looks forward to practicing her Japanese and having the chance to communicate with native Japanese people.

Shawma Brown

Shawma is a 16-year old student at Ballou Senior High School. Her favorite subjects are history and English; in college she wants to double major in journalism and English, with a focus on creative writing. She also has interest in space and astronomy. She participates in the school’s ski team, book club, yoga club, Mathletes, and has a strong interest in anime and Japanese culture. Shawma applied for the TOMODACHI program because of the interactions she had last year with Japanese people she met through the Japanese Plus program. She feels that having a conversation with a Japanese person is like learning about a whole other world she never knew existed. She wants to walk down the streets in Japan, to eat food in Japan, and to make new friends who are from Japan. This will be Shawma’s first international trip and her first time on an airplane.

Skyy Genies

Skyy is a 15-year old student at Banneker Academic High School. Her favorite subjects are biology and math, and plans to be a cardiothoracic surgeon when she grows up. She plays soccer and basketball; draws and paints; and enjoys hiking, swimming, drawing, touring DC, visiting museums, photography, listening to K-pop, watching anime, and shopping. She is a member of her school’s Electric Car Club and International Club. Skyy believes that making close friends and expanding her knowledge of the Japanese language through the TOMODACHI program will be a life-changing experience. She also thinks visiting areas affected by the 3-11 tsunami would be a very insightful experience because she will be able to better understand how those Japanese communities were able to overcome obstacles. Social entrepreneurship also interests Skyy because she wants to start her own private practice as a doctor one day.

Chidera (Chi) Onyeka

Of Nigerian heritage, Chidera is a 15-year old student at Banneker Academic High School. She loves math and science, especially biology and chemistry. She plays tennis, draws, and enjoys watching videos and learning Japanese. Chi describes herself as a “naturally happy soul.” Because she tends to be on the talkative side, she wants to see herself adapt to another culture that’s much quieter. She also wants to be able to compare Japan to the cultures that she previously experienced. She is interested in the opportunity to develop her leadership abilities, her individuality and her self-reliance, especially because she will be away from constant contact with her parents. Lastly, she’s very interested in seeing how far she can take the Japanese she’s been studying once she’s immersed in Japanese culture and with the help of her Japanese peers.

Daniel Ruiz

Daniel is 17-years old, and a student at Capital City Public Charter School. He is good at math and science, machines and computer science, with a strong interest in space technologies. He participates in open art studio at his school, and especially likes making clay items. He also enjoys anime and video games. Daniel’s family is from Mexico, and he considers it his “homeland.” He looks forward to exploring how life in Japan is different from life in the US and Mexico. Daniel is also motivated by his experience this year engaging with several groups of exchange students from Japanese universities, and looks forward to creating strong friendships with his fellow TOMODACHI students.

Bryson Torgovitsky

Bryson, a 16-year old student at Washington Latin Public Charter School, has aspirations to be a biologist or wildlife conservationist. He participates in his school’s Philosophy, Anime, Chess, and Environmental Research Clubs. He has been a wrestler at his school for three years, and attends a boxing gym with his mother. Bryson’s goal for participating in the TOMODACHI program is to lay the groundwork for his future career. He is interested in exploring Japan’s biodiversity and environmental awareness to learn ways to apply these lessons to the United States. Bryson has decided that he wants to study abroad in Japan for a year while in college, and sees the TOMODACHI experience as great first step.