Nichibei Girls Collaborative


Program Dates: September 2024 - March 2025
Open to: 1st-2nd year students at Fukuoka Futaba Gakuen, North Salinas, and Rancho San Juan High Schools
Location: Online (Sept-March) | Fukuoka, Japan (Nov 20-25) | California, USA (March 10-15)
Application Deadline: May 19, 2024 (US Students) | May 31, 2024 (Japan Students)


Facilitated by VIA in collaboration with Fukuoka Futaba GakuenNorth Salinas High School, and Rancho San Juan High School, the Nichibei Girls Collaborative is a 1-year cultural exchange and social impact leadership development program for female-identifying (cis- and transgender) high school students in the US and Japan. Through on-site fieldwork, hands-on training, and team project-based learning, participants learn about social issues from diverse perspectives and develop their own leadership potential.

Teams will develop a project to address a need related to the United Nations’ Global Goals for Sustainable Development (SDGs) in their local community (e.g., school, neighborhood, city, etc) and have the opportunity to receive a mini-grant to fund a pilot of their project.

This program is made possible with support from the US-Japan Foundation and builds on VIA’s six-decade history of inspiring self-awareness, creativity, and connections across cultures.

Program Application

US Students: Click the blue APPLY button if you’re ready to start your application. After clicking the APPLY button, you will be taken to the application portal to create a user account. This will allow you to save your progress and return to continue your application at any time.

Japan Students: Apply directly to the faculty at Fukuoka Futaba Gakuen.


Program Costs

$500 USD program participation fee includes:

  • Round-trip economy international airfare between the US and Japan for fieldwork sessions
  • Accommodations in US and Japan (5 nights each trip)
  • Local transportation for program activities
  • Most scheduled activity costs
  • Most meals during fieldwork sessions
Additional estimated costs not included in the program fee:

  • Passport and visa fees (approx. $160 USD)
  • Travel insurance (approx. $30-60 USD)
  • Some meals / snacks (approx. $100 USD)
  • International phone plan or SIM, optional activities, souvenirs, etc ($180+ USD)

$500 USD – VIA Program Fee
$500 USD – Additional costs (estimated)
$1000 USD – Total Estimated Cost to Participate

Personal Health Expenses

Participants will be responsible for any medical testing, care, or additional travel costs associated with infection and treatment, including, but not limited to, the cost of modifying, extending, or cancelling any lodging or transportation arrangements before, during, or after the program.

Program Participation Fee Payment & Cancellation Policies

Invoice & Payment Deadline

If accepted to the program, you will receive an invoice from VIA’s finance department with instructions to complete the payment within approximately one week of confirming your participation. Full payment is due 30 days from the invoice issue date. If your invoice is issued 30 days or less before the program start date, full payment is due when you receive the invoice.

Participant Cancellation

VIA will return 50% of the program fee if your cancellation is confirmed at least 30 days before the program start date. If you cancel less than 30 days before the program, we are unable to refund your program fee. Partial refunds will be considered in extenuating circumstances.

Program Modification or Cancellation

VIA may convert the program to a virtual format at any time prior to the program start dates if international travel becomes infeasible for participants. If the program is converted to a virtual format, VIA will return 50% of the program fee. If you choose to not participate in the virtual program, you will not be refunded more than 50% of the program fee. If the program is canceled entirely or a virtual participation option is not possible, you will receive a full refund.

Mid-Sept: Orientation & Team-building

  • 1-2 online orientation sessions with US and Japan teams
  • Asynchronous individual and team assignments
  • US students begin preparations for travel to Japan

Oct-Nov: Project Design Accelerator

  • Online synchronous learning sessions every 2-4 weeks 
  • Asynchronous individual and team activities 
  • Teams learn and apply innovation, sustainability, & project design frameworks

*Nov 20-25: Japan Fieldwork & Project Pitches

  • US students travel to Fukuoka, Japan
  • Site visits, guest speakers, workshops, and cultural activities
  • Teams pitch projects

Dec-Feb: Project Pilot

  • Project mini-grant recipients implement their projects
  • Japanese students prepare for travel to the US

*March 10-15: US Fieldwork

  • Japanese students travel to San Francisco Bay Area
  • Site visits, guest speakers, workshops, and cultural activities
  • Teams present project results

*Fieldwork dates are tentative. Dates are in local time.


Application Timeline (US Students)

  • May 19, 2024: Application Deadline
    • All application materials must be submitted, including:
      • Online Application
      • Parent/Guardian Commitment of Support (submitted by a parent/guardian for each member)
      • Letter of Recommendation (sent to contact listed in application)
  • May 20-24: Application Review and Selection
    • Students selected for the interview round will be invited to a group interview with their potential teammates
  • May 27-31: Group Interviews
    • Applicants will receive instructions to prepare for the interview in advance
  • June 3: Acceptance Notification
    • Acceptance letter and welcome packet emailed to each team member
  • June 10: Confirm Participation
    • Each team member must confirm their intent to join the program by completing the Program Participation Risk Notice & Acknowledgement Form (requires parent / guardian signature as well)
  • June 14: Cohort Announcement

Application Timeline (Japan Students)

  • May 31, 2024: Application Deadline
    • Apply directly to the faculty at Fukuoka Futaba Gakuen
  • June 3-14, 2024: Application Review & Selection
    • Fukuoka Futaba Gakuen faculty will review applications and determine Japan student teams
  • June 14, 2024: Acceptance Notification
    • Full international cohort announced

Participation Requirements

In order to be eligible to participate in this program, you must:

  • Be a first- or second-year female-identifying high school student (for US students, rising freshmen and juniors will be considered on a case-by-case basis).
  • Have intermediate English comprehension and communication skills (the program will be conducted in English).
  • Be eligible to receive travel authorization to travel internationally to the program locations (US and Japan).
  • Be able to provide proof of vaccination and/or health status required by immigration regulations that are in effect during your dates of travel. It is your responsibility to confirm which health-related regulations may apply to you.
  • Be willing to undergo diagnostic tests if experiencing symptoms of a communicable illness considered serious by public health officials or if required for site visits by the host institution. A positive test or inability to meet requirements for a site visit may limit your ability to participate in program activities and/or may necessitate self-isolation during the program.
  • Disclose any life-threatening or significant allergies, dietary restrictions, medical conditions or illnesses, and physical limitations as they relate to the program and listed activities.
  • Maintain health insurance coverage for the duration of the program, including international travel health insurance for the fieldwork portions of the program outside your country of residence. You must submit proof of insurance valid for the program location and duration to VIA staff before your departure.
  • Be committed to participating in all portions of the program (online, local, and international) and completing all individual and team activities, including independent team project work outside scheduled cohort meeting times.

Application Content

  • Personal & Contact Information
    • First and Last Names
    • Preferred Name / Nickname
    • Pronouns / Third Person Referral
    • Date of Birth
    • Citizenship
    • Do you currently have a passport?
  • Contact Information
    • Email Address
    • Physical Address
    • Phone Number
    • VIA Affiliation (if any)
  • Academic Information
    • High School Name
    • Grade Level
    • Graduation Month and Year
  • Recommendation Writer Information (one required; second recommendation optional)
    • Before you start working on the “Deeper Questions” section of the application, you will be prompted to provide contact information for your recommendation writer(s). An email notification will be sent to the contact(s) provided.
    • Your recommendations should be submitted by the application deadline, so it’s a good idea to complete this step early so that they have enough time to complete the recommendation form.
    • Recommendation Guidelines
      • Recommendations may be written in English or Japanese.
      • This recommendation is an opportunity for someone with knowledge of your experiences, motivations, and character to explain why you are a good fit for this program.
      • A recommendation can be written by someone from your academic, community, or professional contexts who has interacted with you closely and recently (within the last 1-2 years).
      • Family members MAY NOT provide a recommendation letter.
  • Deeper Questions
    • Goals (~200 words) – Share two to three personal goals for what you hope to gain from this team project-based learning experience.
    • Strengths (~200 words) – Share two to three strengths that you will bring to your team and contribute to the program overall.
    • Cross-Cultural Exchange (~500 words) – Describe your experience and/or interest in learning more about other cultures and communities represented in this program. What do you hope to learn or practice by engaging with peers from different cultural backgrounds?
  • Time Commitment
    • This program requires a seven-month time commitment, including the project design accelerator (mid-September to mid-November), Japan fieldwork (tentatively November 20-25), project pilot (December – February), and US fieldwork (tentatively March 10-15). Please share any other personal/academic/professional commitments you might have during this timeframe, and how you plan to balance these commitments while participating in the program.
  • Potential Team Members (two required; may list up to five)
    • This program is designed for students to participate in teams of three. Team members should all be from the same school and share some topics of interest to work on for your project. Please share the names of any students you would like to join your team.
  • Parent / Guardian Information (one required; second contact optional)
    • Participating in this program requires a commitment of support from your parent(s) or legal guardian(s). Your parent(s) or legal guardian(s) will be asked to affirm that they understand the responsibilities and risks associated with your participation in this program and are committed to supporting you.
    • When you submit your application, an email notification will be sent to the contact provided in your application.

Please review this step-by-step guide for more detailed instructions on completing the application.

Ready to start your application?

Click the blue APPLY button if you’re ready to start your application. After clicking the APPLY button, you will be taken to the application portal to create a user account. This will allow you to save your progress and return to continue your application at any time.