October Editorial: Meeting the World in Okinawa Through International Exchange

In order to reach our goal of creating a society in which it is normal to have a friend from each country, at HelloWorld we offer two different programs: the “HelloWorld Cultural Exchange” program, in which students stay in the houses of international residents of Japan, and the “WorldClassroom” program, an online platform that connects students with their peers around the world. 

Everyone has, at least once, dreamed of traveling or studying abroad. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon that many have to give up such dreams due to time, age, or economic restrictions. On the other hand, international residents of Japan are often faced with challenges of isolation and exclusion.

To address such reality, we want to make high-quality cultural exchange programs accessible for everyone, by building a global infrastructure of international connections. 

This idea also comes from our understanding of innovation as something that emerges from social diversity, which in turn is brought upon by a united, sustainable model of social development. We believe the opposite of  “war” is not “peace” but  “dialogue”, a tool to respect and value each others’ diversity towards prosperous lives

Since our establishment for the course of the past three years, we have been blessed by the help of many, working along with the support of multiple governmental institutions, making it possible to connect over eighty thousand people through cultural exchange. 

We have forged strong bonds with teachers that, despite work-heavy days, still want to offer ever-improving, first-hand experiences to their students, paving the way for us to be here, today. 

It is always moving to see students, who believed it was impossible to have cultural exchange, being able to overcome their insecurities and interact with glistening eyes. 

It is forever engraved in our memory how, after experiencing the HelloWorld Cultural Exchange program with teachers of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST), students have realized dreams of becoming researchers, starting their own scientific experiments and eventually receiving many, many awards . 

While developing a model for English Education and Cultural Exchange in Japan, with its origins rooted in Okinawa, HelloWorld is also looking beyond Japan to establish itself as a global company.

It is from Okinawa, witness to the cruelties of war, that we want to spread a platform connecting the world through peace. 

HelloWorld Co-CEO Hikari Nonaka

About this article

This is an English adaptation of a Japanese article. The original material is part of a monthly editorial curated and published by The Okinawa Times titled たんぽぽのタネ (“Dandelion seeds” ). Starting from October 2023, our Co-CEO Hikari Nonaka will have monthly features on the column through March 2024: the aim is to share with the readers HelloWorld’s core values and mission through an overview of our programs, such as “HelloWorld Cultural Exchange” and “WorldClassroom”.