Ashinaga USA, the North American hub of the Ashinaga Africa Initiative

Angelique, one of the AAI Scholars from Rwanda at her graduation

Ashinaga USA is very proud to have been a part of pioneering the Ashinaga Africa Initiative (AAI) in the world, by not only receiving the first three students from sub-Saharan Africa supported by Ashinaga to study at universities outside of Japan, but also achieving full scholarships for them. These three students have since gone on to graduate successfully. Ashinaga USA learned a lot from this experience on how to build relationships in universities around the US and support the development of our Scholars’ kokorozashi, a Japanese term that refers to a broad vision for the future.

These three success stories encouraged the creation of a permanent office in the USA in 2014, which has continued the work of building relationships with top universities through the efforts of the University Relations Team (URT). From three pioneer students in 2014, Ashinaga USA has now placed Scholars at over 20 universities across North America.

Ashinaga USA seeks to place incoming Ashinaga Scholars in universities that are some of the best in the country in each Scholar’s field of study. We seek to achieve the perfect match between the Scholar’s kokorozashi and what the university has to offer so that each Scholar is best placed to become a future leader upon their return to Africa. Another important role of Ashinaga USA is contributing to the sustainability of the AAI by creating relationships with the universities that lead to full or partial scholarships. Ashinaga USA has increased the number of scholarships we receive for Scholars every year since 2014. The cumulative value of this support is now over $4.4 million (JPY 474,090,000).

Ashinaga USA office in New York City

To build these successful relationships and secure scholarships, members of the Ashinaga USA University Relations Team (URT) has year-round communication with the admissions offices of well over 30 universities. Through online meetings, phone calls, and university visits, Ashinaga USA advocates for our incoming scholars and promotes the vision of Ashinaga and the AAI: to contribute to the development of sub-Saharan Africa by providing orphaned students with the education, network, and opportunities necessary to become leaders in their home countries.

Ashinaga USA URT has visited schools as far north as Maine and as far West as California. Visits have taken place to schools that specialize in engineering, the sciences, technology as well as the liberal arts. Sometimes staff must drive long distances for meetings that turn out to be unsuccessful, and sometimes it is possible to attend gatherings with many key decision-makers. One URT member recalls, “being on the road and travelling for so long can be tiring, but we know it is always worthwhile in the end, because when we leave each visit, we know that we have planted another seed for Ashinaga and the AAI.” During every visit, the team works hard to advocate for Ashinaga Scholars and the Ashinaga movement with as many university representatives and faculty as possible.

AAI Scholars in the USA during the International Tsudoi earlier this year

As the AAI grows, funding and relationships with universities will become more and more important. Ashinaga USA’s URT is looking forward to making a continuing contribution to Ashinaga and the AAI!

For more information about Ashinaga USA please see the homepage: https://ashinaga-usa.org/

AAI Scholars attended the Women In Africa (WIA) Summit in Marrakech