Opinion: High School Diplomats, The Best 10 Days of My Life


Two and a half months ago, a deep buzz filled the air as everyone’s energy electrified the atmosphere. I along with 39 others lined the streets of Princeton waiting to reunite with our Japanese roommates. When their bus arrived, a chorus of cheers erupted as we were ecstatic to see our Japanese counterparts in person-some of us for the first time. When I saw Ayuka come off that bus, we ran into each other’s arms, and with a warm embrace, we knew we were home. Over the course of the next week, our relationship would deepen as we embraced each other’s differences, but took pride in our similarities- especially our common love for bubble tea., and sense of style.

That week, I embarked on a journey to Princeton University for a program that would forever change my perspective on international relations. High School Diplomats is a once in a lifetime opportunity that brings together 40 American students and 40 Japanese students for an all-expenses paid trip to Princeton University for 10 days to forge meaningful friendships and embrace our diverse origins. HSD is the place to be if you have ever been curious to learn about Japanese culture and meet kind, passionate individuals. The 2019 program will be held from Wednesday July 24 to Sunday, August 4 2019, and the weekend before leaving for Princeton, families in the DMV area have the opportunity to host a couple of Japanese students.

At Princeton, both American and Japanese students give presentations on education, government, regional characteristics, and social issues of their country. The American students took Japanese language and culture classes where we made sushi, origami cranes, and participated in a traditional tea ceremony. We also held various diplomatic discussions on a variety of prevalent issues such as Artificial intelligence to Nuclear Weapons bridging the gap between two nations. The rest of the 10 days were filled with fun games such as jang ke pon the Japanese version of rock, paper, scissors, exploring Princeton, and the iconic HSD dance parties. All current sophomores and juniors nationwide are eligible to apply and this year’s application is available online from Sep. 15, 2018 to Jan. 1, 2018 at www.highschooldiplomats.com. Applicants selected for interviews will be contacted by mid- February to schedule an interview. Interviews (in-person or Skype depending on location) take place between late February and March. Acceptance will be determined and final notification given by mid- April 2019.

I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity because not only did I learn more about the unique customs in Japan, but I became much more personally aware about my beliefs. I came into the program not really knowing what to expect, but soon I was immersed into a supportive and creative atmosphere where the lessons I have learned with my roommate Ayuka Katayama will forever stay with me. We are now navigating our future together along with 78 other inspiring, talented friends, with an open mind and open heart to learn more about the world we live in, while strengthening our kizuna or bond as we go.

For further inquiries, contact the American Director, Celine Zapolski, at [email protected] or 571-234-5072 or feel free to contact me directly at [email protected] for any questions about my experience!