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Americans Serving Abroad Give Back Through ECAP

by Jamie R.

Keeping in mind President Obama’s message to serve our communities wherever we are and in the spirit of the United We Serve season, U.S. Embassy Tokyo staff and family members are volunteering and reaching out to local Japanese of all ages in part through the Embassy Community Action Program (ECAP), formerly known as U.S. Embassy Community Outreach.

Since its inception in 2007, ECAP has had great success promoting community outreach through monthly volunteer events in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Thanks to the active support of Ambassador John Roos, former Ambassador Thomas Schieffer, Chargé Jim Zumwalt, and the Front Office, ECAP has engaged Embassy staff and family members in a wide range of community outreach activities such as neighborhood clean-ups, visits to local nursing homes, musical and cultural exchange events at schools and hospitals, and assistance to individuals with disabilities.

ECAP has served as an effective Public Diplomacy tool, facilitating American and Japanese interaction, fellowship, and cultural exchange at a person-to-person level.

Regarding recent ECAP activities, Ambassador Roos joined a group of school-aged children from Nonohana-no-ie and Shisei Gakuen children’s homes for lunch during the Take a Child to Work Day at the Embassy on August 27. The children asked the Ambassador several questions and thoroughly enjoyed the lunch hour.

The program also included a tour of the Embassy TV studio and presentations by Foreign Service Officers. Inspired in part by President Obama’s recent White House reading of the popular children’s book “Where the Wild Things Are,” ECAP sponsored a book donation and reading party at Minato City Library in July. The program allowed Embassy staff and family to share their favorite Japanese and English language books with local Japanese children and, hopefully, cultivated a joy for reading and learning that will last a lifetime.

In June, Chargé Zumwalt led a group of children from the Embassy pre-school to a local Minato-ku nursing home to participate in several interactive games, activities, and musical performances with resident patients. Through these and other activities, the Embassy community hopes to establish a rich legacy of outreach, giving, fellowship, and volunteerism.

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