America's Unofficial Ambassadors

We work at the grassroots level throughout the Muslim World to counter violent extremism before it takes hold, to promote tolerance and understanding, and to foster better relations with the United States.

Tomoko Ishikawa’s pre-departure hopes for Zanzibar.

AUA Summer Service Intern Tomoko Ishikawa shares her thoughts on what to expect from Zanzibar while teaching Mathematics at the Tumekuja School. 

This pre-departure blog post was originally written by Tomoko.

Hello, my name is Tomoko Ishikawa, a 21-year-old international student from Japan. I am majoring in anthropology and international studies at Washington College in Maryland. I came to the college in the United States because I was interested in the study of different culture and people all over the world. In Zanzibar, I am going to teach mathematics at a public school. I decided to join in the program because Africa was one of place on my bucket list that I have wanted to go to. Additionally, the Islamic culture is fascinating but I never have had a chance to actually learn the culture. Therefore, it was the perfect place for me to go since it offers the two realms that I have been interested in.

As a Japanese student studying in the United States, I have been recognizing American cultures differently from the other American students. Being non-native in the United States gave me an opportunity to see the things more objectively and comparatively through my own culture and American culture. This made me realize and appreciate the importance of understanding different cultures because I learned through my experience that how people in different culture live and how communication without understanding and having a basis can bring conflict to the people.

I see the United States as a culturally and racially diverse country. I would like to introduce the idea of America that I know; a country full of generosity. I came to the United States for the first time when I was 18 and as an exchange student to a local private school and I appreciated the generosity of the people there had for accepting a student from different country. Also, as much as I would like to teach about America, I am eager to learn the Islamic culture. Moreover, while I stay in Zanzibar, I would like to visit all the historically famous places in Stone town and gain the cultural knowledge there.

My goal in the AUA program is to gain a first-hand experience with local people by interaction and build a mutual understanding. In order to do so, I think that it is important to be respectful to different culture and break stereotypes by communication and introducing the culture from people who actually know the culture.

During my stay in Zanzibar, I would like to communicate the local teachers and the students. Through the communication with local people I would like to exchange each other’s culture and obtain the positive mutual understanding. I am going to Tumekuja School soon and I am very excited to interact with local student there.


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