N.C. A&T Student Travels to Japan with Congressional Black Caucus Foundation

GREENSBORO, N.C. (March 26, 2018) – When Emmanuel Gbedee learned he was chosen to participate in the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Foundation’s Emerging Leaders Japan Exchange Program, his response was only two words.

“God’s favor,” he said.

Gbedee, a senior public relations student with a minor in political science at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, applied for the 2018 Kakehashi Project after receiving an email from the Pre-Professional Scholars program.

“I’ve always wanted to do a study abroad trip during my undergrad career for the cultural experience aspect and to view the world from a different perspective,” he said. “I’ve had several friends who have done study abroad trips, and I just always thought it would be too expensive to even try.”

The Kakehashi Project, in partnership with the government of Japan (the Embassy of Japan, and the Japanese International Cultural Center) aims to increase African-American interest in and exposure to the Japanese culture. As a part of the project, Gbedee and his cohort spent eight days in Tokyo, Japan visiting cultural and historical landmarks, hearing lectures on U.S.-Japanese relations, visiting high-tech and traditional industries and spending one night with a Japanese host family.

Exactly one week and one day after submitted his application, just four hours before the deadline, Gbedee learned he was one of 18 students chosen for the project. He was the only student chosen for the program who attends a North Carolina university.

“I look forward to gaining insight on the everyday aspect of life in Japan, while challenging myself with the ability to maneuver in a different environment,” Gbedee said in his application. “I hope to gain access to a new network of people and the ability to learn and compare the laws, regulations, and policies that Japan has in regard to the United States.”

To be eligible, Gbedee had to have at least a 3.0 grade point average and live, work or attend a school in a CBC member district. As a Durham native, Gbedee’s CBC member is U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield. Applicants also must never have visited Japan through any invitation program organized by the Japanese government or have participated in a CBC Foundation study abroad program.

As a part of the program, Gbedee’s international travel from Washington, D.C. to Japan and the cost of housing, meals and ground transportation in Japan, as well as his housing in Washington, D.C. for pre-departure and debriefing sessions, were all covered.

Upon graduation in May, Gbedee has plans to enroll in graduate studies to pursue a master’s degree in public policy.

“I hope to someday use all these factors to transition into the local and then federal political arena, as a campaign strategist or governmental relations specialist,” he said.

Gbedee is set to return on March 30.