JICUF Program Director Mark Flanigan and Program Intern Milena Naitoh traveled to Washington DC to represent the Foundation at the 54th Annual Sakura Matsuri Street Festival. For the second year in a row, JICUF teamed up with the dynamic ICU DC Alumni Chapter to sponsor an informational booth about ICU. This large-scale event is held annually each spring by The Japan-America Society of Washington, DC, attracting thousands of festival-goers who enjoy Japanese food, culture, music and the lovely Cherry Blossoms.
Now in its 54th year, Sakura Matsuri is the largest one-day exhibition of Japanese culture in the United States, stretching for six blocks through downtown Washington DC. It was held on a very sunny Saturday, April 12, from 10:30 am to 6:00 pm, right after the Cherry Blossom Festival Parade. Building on the great success of last year’s first-ever partnership, JICUF team members returned to team up with our ICU DC Alumni Chapter members for the Street Festival once again. We sponsored an ICU booth, which was extremely well-staffed by our very genki alumni and friends. Working together, we talked to many interested parents, students and individuals about the variety of ways to study at ICU. We finished up the long and productive day with a really nice dinner at the nearby Asia Nine restaurant, which was organized by DC Chapter leader Motoko Shimizu.
We surely benefitted from both the great turn-out (about 20 volunteers in total!) and the diversity of our DC-based ICU alumni. They included both Japanese and American members of several generations, featuring April and September 4-year students, as well as OYRs, Transfer students, a former Rotary Peace Fellow and a Summer Course in Japanese attendee. This great cultural event has proven to be a wonderful opportunity to bring JICUF staff members and ICU alumni together to help promote ICU, recruit new students and build alumni relations in the DC area. For two years in a row, we have been able to meet and interact with literally hundreds of interested Festival-goers, as well as network with Japan-related organizations in the greater DC area. In this way, we can continue to raise the profile of our Japan ICU Foundation while educating students, parents and other interested people on the many different ways they might be able to attend ICU!
We will definitely be back next year and beyond. A VERY BIG“otsukare sama deshita” to everyone who came to support us at Sakura Matsuri! We of JICUF hope to join in and partner with our various Alumni Chapters on a variety of great recruitment efforts like this, as well as College Fairs, School visits, Cultural Festivals and so on. Let us know if you have any ideas for potential partnership! For more DC Sakura Matsuri photos, here is a link to the album on our JICUF Facebook page.