AYF is made up of diverse fellows, not only in terms of their culture and country of origin, but also in their academic background and professional skillset, and this diversity provides the foundation for AYF Academy. The project aims at offering cross-cultural communication training opportunities for the future global leaders of Japan.
The team is made up of three core members. Santiago from Colombia, who has a background in mechanical engineering and teaching, leads the group. Catherine from Kenya has a background in tourism and customer relations, and Jerusha from India, with research experience in biomedical sciences, rounds out the team. Naomi from Japan supports the team, not only in language and translation of marketing collateral, but by providing a Japanese perspective, which is valuable in the sales activities of the project.
The idea behind the project is to create a space for Japanese students and employees to live, learn, work, innovate and lead with a diverse cohort of young international professionals. Participants get a chance to learn first-hand about business cultures, project management challenges and socio-political situations of different regions of the world. As such two main programs have been designed.
The first is a two-month immersive program for young professionals, with the idea of having them work alongside the fellows on their projects. This program has four main components: business English training, task-based project work, global mindset training, and special lectures. Based on the objective of the company the young professionals belong to, the lectures and task-based projects are customizable.
The second is the university outreach program, which targets current university students in different fields with customizable workshops. The length of each workshop depends on the objective of the university and can range from a few hours to a week. The team conducted its first workshop under this program for 22 students from International Pacific University (IPU).
Given the wide scope of cross-cultural communication, the project can achieve its objective in a different format beyond the two programs. An example of this was a workshop on entrepreneurship and business development held with students from Kobe University.
The aim of the workshop was to advise the students on how to improve their business model in terms of business plan adjustments and presentation for their pitch at the Hult Prize competition. This is an annual start-up event that focuses on the creation of impact enterprises and this year will be held in Boston for a period of five weeks.
Moving forward, AYF Academy intends to expand its reach, and position Awaji as the international learning hub which provides a unique platform for Japanese people to enhance their English communication skills and awareness of current global issues.