Group Leaders gain hands-on experience in the field of international education and cross-cultural communication. Group Leaders are also given the opportunity to understand work ethics in the Japanese cultural context.
Group Leaders go on a once in a lifetime experience that will give them a very personal, enriching experience. Group Leaders immerse themselves in Japanese culture, make lifelong friendships, and learn a great deal about themselves.
Group Leaders are able to understand work ethics in the Japanese cultural context on a deeper level and learn through invaluable experience about the benefits acquired from living outside of your own cultural comfort zone.
How does it work?
Japan Empowerment is a once-in-a-lifetime, volunteer opportunity. Each week summer program participants are sent to various locations throughout Japan to serve as Group Leaders at various high schools and educational institutions. Group Leaders stay with a Japanese host family or in a local hotel. During the week (Monday to Friday), Group Leaders join empowerment programs to help Japanese students develop a better understanding of empowerment and critical thinking while practicing communication in English.
Facilitators guide Group Leaders and Japanese students through daily lessons with activities and discussions exploring different aspects of empowerment. Group Leaders work in small groups with students where they can share viewpoints and perspectives while discovering how students can continue to develop the skills and tools of empowerment in their own lives.
While the curriculum provides an introduction to empowerment themes, and a chance to engage in critical thinking, Group Leaders also have the unique opportunity to inspire Japanese students to pursue their passions, goals, and aspirations through their own experiences and stories.
Group Leader Requirements
- Attend 4-5 hours mandatory pre-departure orientation session (location & time to TBD).
- Read and respond to all pre-departure material related to Japanese culture and program features.
- Attend orientation program in Japan prior to the commencement of the program.
- Act as a leader to students on projects and small group discussions.
- Share from life experiences to teach, inspire and motivate students.
- Prepare for various discussions by reviewing handouts and videos.
- Participate in various activities with students.
- Comply with all rules and regulations established by GPI/ISA.
- Japanese language proficiency is NOT required.
Program Costs Covered
- Airfare: Round trip ticket to Japan from USA departing locations.
- Flight tickets cannot be changed (NO EXCEPTIONS).
- Additional expenses incurred from traveling to the departure airport and/or additional travel accommodations will NOT be included in costs covered.
- Inbound Travel Insurance: Basic travel insurance in Japan.
- Residency: Homestay & Hotel.
- Meals: All meals are included except weekend lunch (Homestay & Hotel Stay).
- Transportation in Japan: School Commute (Personal Travel is not covered).
- Salary: No salary provided.
Group Leaders should be prepared for the following:
- High heat and humidity.
- Navigating heavily crowded stations with other Group Leaders.
- Carrying own luggage up multiple flights of stairs.
- Standing for long periods of time in crowded trains.
- Transferring quickly from train platforms.
- Walking long distances (i.e. from host-family or school to train station).
Group Leaders are asked to adhere to the following dress code during the program:
- “Dressy casual” during school sessions or events.
- Covering visible tattoos.
- Hair not dyed an unnatural “rainbow” color (i.e. purple, blue, green, etc.).
- May be asked to cover or remove piercings that stand out.
Who Can Apply
- Holders of passports issued by a country or region that are visa-exempt for visits up to 45 days in Japan.
- Applicants must currently be enrolled in a 4-year college/university or graduate program in the United States (required to show a valid college/university ID) or be a recent graduate.
Recent graduates must satisfy the following requirements to qualify:
- Applicant will graduate in May (2020) or after, admission to a graduate school is not required.
- Graduating between May 2019 - April 2020, Applicant must be accepted to a graduate program for Fall 2020 enrollment and must show proof in the form of an admission letter.
- Without proof of acceptance, the application will be reviewed on a case by case basis.
Means of Disqualification
The following disqualification criteria apply to applicants as well as to individuals who are selected to participate in the Japan Empowerment Program.
The decision to disqualify an individual will be reviewed and be at the discretion of GPI US.
The reasons individuals may be disqualified include, but are not limited to the following:
- The individual’s application documents contain false statements.
- Required forms or information are not submitted by the set deadlines.
- Inability to attend the GPI US/ISA orientations.
- If it becomes clear at a later date that the candidate or participant cannot fulfill their duties as a program participant due to some reason attributable to him or herself.
- An individual has committed an act deemed inappropriate by ISA staff and/or GPI US staff.
How to Apply
*Please note that while the GPI US screens and selects applicants for ISA, selected participants are not 'hired' by GPI US or ISA.*
Letter of Interest:
1) Why would you like to take part in this volunteer opportunity?
2) What are your summer availability and which program(s) are you interested in?
1) Year of study.
3) Work experience.
4) Volunteer experience, etc.
2 Professional References:
List 2 references with address, email address, and contact number.
*GPI US & ISA staff cannot be listed as professional references.
Complete Online Application:
1) Submit Application Components using the online application form.
2) Fill all fields.
3) Complete 2 prompts using the online application form.
Choose the regional office closest to your university to access the correct application form:
If your application passes the first round of evaluations, a GPI US Representative will reach out to schedule an in-person interview.
Please keep in mind that applicants who apply by the deadline date may experience delays of 4-6 weeks in having their application reviewed.
Application status may be requested by applicants throughout the application process. Decisions may be given to applicants as early as the beginning of February and as late as the first week of May.
East Coast Regional Office: email@example.com
SEA, SF, & LA Office: firstname.lastname@example.org
Early Submission Deadline
Dec 20th, 2019
General Submission Deadline
Dec 23rd, 2019 - Feb 20th, 2020
**We recommend students interested in this program to apply by the early submission deadline. Every year the application process becomes more selective and competitive by the general submission deadline.
2020 Program Duration
Term dates and availabilities for each region are to be confirmed at a later date. Though most of our programs are four weeks long, applicants must understand the program duration may range anywhere between one to four weeks within each term. Please keep in mind that GPI US cannot guarantee acceptance to the specific term dates requested by applicants. In some cases, Group Leaders must be flexible with term placement and term duration.
**Due to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, term dates are subject to change by more than a few days. GPI US advises interested applicants to ensure their availability at least one week before and after the program dates listed below. GPI US does NOT guarantee flexibility in switching terms.
Term 1: July 1st ~ August 3rd
(LA Region Only)
Term 2: July 8th ~ August 10th
(SEA, SF, & East Coast Region Only)
Term 3: July 15th~ August 17th
(LA & East Coast Region Only)
Term 4: July 22nd ~ August 24th
(LA, SEA & SF Region Only)
Updated: November 26th, 2019
Program types listed below may be available during each term duration. However, please keep in mind that GPI US cannot guarantee acceptance to program types requested by applicants. Applicants must be flexible to participate in any of our programs (Standard, STEM, Women) to be accepted.
The key feature of the Standard Program is to challenge Japanese high school students to be more independent thinkers. Through small group discussions and other activities, students will examine and discuss various topics and participate in projects and presentations. This program seeks to show students that passion and personal growth are achieved by taking responsibility for their choices.
The Women's Studies Empowerment Program was designed by Kerianne Panos, founder of MCML Consulting service, with the specific goal of empowering young Japanese women. In this program, Group Leaders work closely with students to help them explore their identities and to build the confidence and mindset necessary to become successful women leaders in the future.
This program seeks to challenge students to be more independent and creative thinkers with a particular focus on STEM fields. Through lectures, small group discussions/debates, and activities that explore various STEM subjects, Japanese students will examine and discuss various topics alongside American STEM students.