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Nichibei Girls Collaborative FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions Sections


About the Program

Why should I join the Nichibei Girls Collaborative?

The Nichibei Girls Collaborative (NGC) is a 7-month 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.

By joining this program, you have the opportunity to 1) connect with local and international peers, 2) make a lasting impact in your community, 3) become a role model for other young women, and 4) demonstrate your leadership skills, cross-cultural competence, and ability to collaborate with others in future academic and career opportunities.

Who can I contact if I have more questions?

Please contact the Program Directors if you have any questions:

  • Yuki Ueda, yuki@viaprograms.org
  • Kristy Ishii, kristy@viaprograms.org

Eligibility

Is this program open to all high school students?

This program is currently open to female-identifying (cis- and transgender) students at three partner schools: Fukuoka Futaba Gakuen, North Salinas High School, and Rancho San Juan High School.

What grade levels are eligible to participate?

Due to the program schedule, NGC is ideal for 1st-2nd year high school students. However, rising freshmen and juniors will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Are there any language skill requirements to participate?

The program will be conducted in English, so participants should be comfortable communicating (reading, writing, listening, and speaking) in English, but it does not need to be your first language. Japanese language skills are not required, but you will have the opportunity to use Japanese with peers and while traveling during the program.

Is the program limited to US and Japanese citizens?

Female-identifying students of any nationality enrolled at one of the three partner schools are eligible to join. If you are not a US or Japanese citizen, there may be some additional considerations regarding your ability to travel for the fieldwork sessions (e.g., your passport application process will be different and you may need a visa to travel, depending on your nationality). If you are accepted to the program, VIA staff will do our best to support any unique requirements for your participation.

Who is best suited to join this program?

You should consider applying if you are interested in making an impact in your community, being creative and thinking outside the box, developing a deeper understanding of social issues, working with peers to solve challenges, and building leadership and collaboration skills in cross-cultural contexts.


Application Process

Where will the application be available?

The application is now available on the Nichibei Girls Collaborative homepage on VIA’s website. Click the blue APPLY button at the top to get started. The first time you access the application platform, you will be prompted to make a login. This allows you to save your progress and return at any time. Please review this step-by-step guide for more detailed instructions on completing the application.

How will the group interview format work?

It’s structured like a group discussion/networking session. Students might be asked to discuss an article shared in advance or problem-solve a scenario question.

How many participants and teams are accepted from each country?

Two teams from the US and two teams from Japan will be accepted to the program. Each team will have three members, so there will be 12 participants total, six from the US and six from Japan.

After students are accepted, what’s the deadline to pay?

After confirming your intent to participate, you will receive an invoice for the program fee from VIA’s finance department within about 5 business days. Payment is due 30 days after you receive the invoice.

Does VIA offer financial support if a participant can’t afford the program fee?

The majority of participation costs are covered through generous support from the US-Japan Foundation, making it possible to limit the program fee to $500 USD. VIA is not currently able to offer any additional funding or fee reduction to participants. However, we encourage applicants to explore other resources in their community and network.


Participation

Is participation in the fieldwork sessions optional?

The fieldwork sessions (both in Fukuoka and in California) are a mandatory part of the program. All team members from both countries are expected to participate, although the schedules for local students and visiting students may be a little different.

What platforms or apps are used for the online portions of the program?

The online program activities will be facilitated synchronously over Zoom and asynchronously on VIA’s online learning platform created by an organization called Crew For All, an organization that supports community-based social impact work with its online community platform. VIA has collaborated with Crew since 2015.

How will I interact with others during the online portions of the program?

Participants will interact with each other on both of these platforms, as well as their teammates either over Zoom or in-person.

With the time difference between the US and Japan, how are the online meetings sessions scheduled?

Online meetings with the whole program cohort will take place in the morning, Japan Time, which is the afternoon / early evening in California.


Teams & Projects

Should I have a project idea before applying?

You do not need to have a fully developed project idea, but it’s good to have an idea of an issue you’d like to address in your community. This program will help you and your team develop your idea.

Do I need to have a team already?

Each student must apply and be accepted to the program individually. However, there is a place in the application for you to enter the names of other potential teammates. We encourage you to discuss the program with friends, classmates, teammates, and club members at your school who may be interested in joining the program as well.

Are the teams a mix of students from different countries or from the same countries?

Each team will be made up of students from the same country and school, because the goal is for the students to implement a project in their own community. However, through the online and exchange portions of the program, students will have the opportunity to collaborate with students from other communities.

If I listed classmates as potential team members in my application but they don’t apply to the program, can they still join my team if I’m accepted?

Only students who submit an application will be considered for the program. Even though you will participate in the program as a team, each member must complete the application separately. Please encourage your classmates to complete their own application so that they can be considered for the program.

If I’m accepted to the program, will the classmates listed in my application also be accepted?

Each applicant will be evaluated individually. If you are accepted to the program but none of the students listed in your application are accepted, VIA may suggest a team formation with other students from your school who are accepted to the program.

What if I’m accepted and all the classmates I list in my application are accepted? Do I get to choose my team members?

We will take everyone’s preferences into consideration. This is why we ask for you to list your preferred teammates. However, VIA will select members of the teams based on applicants’ preferences and overall fit with program goals.


International Travel & Fieldwork Sessions

What are the fieldwork sessions?

This program includes two in-person “fieldwork” sessions, one in Fukuoka, Japan, and the other in California, USA. During these fieldwork sessions, participants will visit schools and community-based organizations and students will also be able to participate in workshops and cultural activities.

Both US and Japanese students will participate in activities during both fieldwork sessions, although the schedule for the local students and traveling students may be a bit different.

How long does it take to apply for a passport if I don’t have one now? What kind of support will VIA provide to help students apply for their passport?

It depends on your nationality. Applying for a US passport for the first time is currently estimated to take about 8-10 weeks (6-8 weeks for processing, and up to an additional 4 weeks for mailing documents).

Students will receive notification of acceptance into the program in early June, so students should start the process of applying for a passport as soon as possible thereafter. Please review the US State Department’s website for more information.

VIA can provide information, resources, and answer questions to assist with the passport application process for students in the US. Students in Japan should consult with the program liaison at Fukuoka Futaba Gakuen.

Do I need to get a visa?

Traveling to Japan: If you hold a passport from the US (as well as Canada, Mexico, or any other visa-exempt country), you do not need a visa for a short-term stay in Japan.

Traveling to the US: If you hold a passport from Japan (as well as Taiwan (ROC), South Korea, or any other region included in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)) you  do not need a visa. Instead, you must complete an application with the US Customs and Border Protection’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) to receive travel authorization.

Can I arrive early or stay after the fieldwork sessions?

Any alternate travel arrangements must be discussed with VIA staff and written approval from parents/guardians is required.

I have friends or family who live nearby the fieldwork location. Is it ok if I visit them?

Participants are required to stay with the program cohort during all portions of the fieldwork sessions. We strongly encourage students to discuss alternate arrangements with their parents/guardians to visit family or friends in the area before or after the fieldwork session. Any visits off-site during the fieldwork sessions must be approved in writing in advance by the student’s parent or guardian.

Where will we stay during the fieldwork sessions?

Currently the plan is to stay at a hotel or guesthouse in shared rooms. We are looking into the option of homestays (possible for 1-2 nights) in both the US and Japan.

I have allergies or dietary restrictions. Will I still be able to travel?

Yes! It’s possible to accommodate a wide range of allergies and dietary restrictions in both Japan and the US. As part of the enrollment process, we will ask you to share any relevant health information, including allergies and dietary restrictions, so that we can accommodate your needs during the program.

How will we travel to Japan / the US?

Students will meet at their airport of departure and fly out together on the same flight with a chaperone. If students would like to make separate travel arrangements, VIA staff will need written approval from parents/guardians.