Meet the Spring 2017 Social Innovation Team!

This spring we have an amazing team of social innovation coordinators who are all VIA program alumni. Learn more about these energetic innovators who are excited to inspire the next generation of changemakers in the US and Asia!


Exploring Social Innovation

apiwan-esi-sp2017-coordApiwan Doougphummet
ESI Coordinator

Apiwan is a passionate changemaker from Thailand. A few years ago, Apiwan joined VIA Exploring Social Innovation program which greatly broadened her perspective on creative problem-solving and social innovation. She returned to her home country as research assistant for non-profit organizations and also had the opportunity to facilitate Human Centered Design workshops for social enterprises and university students. This gave her an exposure to different types of social challenges in Thailand and grew her concern to shape to future of her community. Apiwan is currently working in the education sector, with the purpose of leveraging technology and data to address educational inequality in Thailand.



maria-esi-sp2017-coordinatorMaria Matsuda
ESI Coordinator

Maria is a junior at Rikkyo University and her major is American and British literature. She was one of the ESI participants spring 2016. The reason she joined the program was to jump into a new world. Although she was new to the idea of “social innovation” before, she expected this program to offer some resources for changing the field of Japanese education. She is interested in education and art because of her sad experience in her school days. In order to support others like her, she wanted to help students who has suffered from serious situations. Now she is thinking about her project influenced by designing the classroom. Besides she has joined the spring coordinator team because this program was one of the turning points to change her life and she wanted VIA to contribute including appreciation.


ryoma-esi-sp2017-coordinatorRyoma Tanaka
ESI Coordinator

Ryoma has strong passion for personal development since he started teaching soccer for his high school students .He learned coaching methodology through this experience and realized the importance of empathy for others. Then he participated in more diversified community through VIA’s Design-Thinking for Social innovation program in March 2015 and 3-month extension program supported by Keio university. During his free time, he loves playing and watching sports especially soccer, and sharing new idea with friends!




Cicy Zhang, ESI 2017 Spring Social Innovation Education Fellow

Cicy Zhang
ESI Social Innovation Education Fellow

Cicy joined VIA as a participant of 2015 ESI summer program and coordinator of 2016 ESI summer program. Holding a Bachelor Degree of Translation and Interpreting from China, Cicy is currently pursuing her master study in Social Entrepreneurship at Watson University in Colorado. Cicy is passionate about international education and creating opportunities for young students all across China to develop them into the leaders of tomorrow. Leveraging her experiences in student organizations and her international work experience, Cicy founded an educational NGO, YouthPower, where she designs and develops leadership training programs for high school and college students. She has delivered leadership training workshops in more than 20 developing countries including Iran, Vietnam, Morocco and Egypt. She is most passionate about learning how to integrate strategy, leadership and sustainability into real transformation in higher and secondary education. She envisions a revitalization of Chinese, as well as global education, through personalized, innovative, powerful leadership development.



Design-Thinking for Social Innovation: Stanford-Japan Exchange


jessica-meno-dsi-2017-hostJessica Meno
DSI Stanford Host

“初めまして! I’m Jessica, a third-year Stanford student studying English and Japanese, and I’m very excited to meet you this spring! I love Japan, especially after growing up in Okinawa for eight years. I decided to co-lead this trip for many reasons, but the main reason is my love for VIA. This summer, I worked with VIA at Stanford for the American Language & Culture Program, and participated in the Impact Abroad Japan trip. During Impact Abroad, we worked in a Japan-Stanford team using design-thinking to create meaningful stories for Rikuzentakata, a city bravely recovering from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and I believe that we can have the same impact here in the Bay Area. My hobbies include weightlifting, playing video games, and watching Studio Ghibli movies, so let’s have fun together! どうぞ宜しくお願いします!”



Cali Nguyen, DSI 2017 Stanford HostCali Nguyen
DSI Stanford Host

“初めまして! I am Cali, a third-year student at Stanford studying Biomechanical Engineering and Japanese. I coordinated VIA’s Medical Exchange and Discovery (MED) Program this summer and had an amazing time engaging with participants from across Asia — which is why I’m super excited to co-lead another trip with VIA. I’m also super excited because I’ll get to explore design thinking, social innovation, cross-cultural communication, and education with you! My favorite things include milk tea, dance, and design. 一緒に楽しもう!どうぞ宜しくお願いします!”




keita-dsi-2017-coordinatorKeita Hiratsuka
DSI Japan Coordinator

“Hi, I’m Keita, a coordinator of DSI program. I’m a senior student of Business department at Rikkyo university, but I’m planning to go on a grad school of Sociology or Cultural anthropology. I’m here to assist with you in all aspects of this program. Especially, I’m capable of supporting you with challenges such feeling confidence in your skills (e.g. Discussion, Presentation, English…) and any hesitation in taking new action. I have experienced a wide variety of programs and projects as both participant and coordinator. For example, a summer program for cultivating leadership, internship at NGO, and a discussion camp on social issues. Some of the experiences are in my high school days. Please do not hesitate to ask me even if what you are thinking seems to be small or ridiculous. Keep on smiling!”



urara-dsi-2017-coordinatorUrara Mikami
DSI Japan Coordinator

Urara is a 4th year student at Rikyyo university in Japan. She studies international business focusing on how cultural differences influence on businesses. She has strong interest in issue of human trafficking and sexual abuse in Japan and abroad, and has done PR and awareness-raising activities at an NPO and her university. She is willing to connect with people by SNS as well as in person, and her favorite things to do are photography and drawing so these soft and hard skills would help DSI program 🙂 Furthermore, thorough her study abroad experiences in the US and Germany and other cross cultural experiences, she learned an importance of knowing both difficulties and excitements of cultural difference, and that is one of the reasons why she has a passion for being this coordinator and support participants to enjoy this DSI program. As DSI coordinator, she will make the best effort to create an environment that everyone can achieve their individual goals while achieving a goal as a whole!