Last week, 33 students from Japan’s Tokyo Jogakkan School (TJK) visited Dana Hall, a trip that pre-pandemic had been an annual occasion. Following a surprise reunion with S. Lopez Alvarez ’26, who was one of two Dana Hall students who attended TJK earlier this summer, students got a tour of the campus and had lunch in the Erisman Student Center.
Afterwards, current and former members of Dana Hall’s Model UN program — including A. Sedunova ’24, S. Lee ’24, S. Li ’24, Model UN Coach Alla Baranovsky and Global Education Coordinator Heather Panahi — joined the group for some getting-to-know you games and Model UN activities.
Dana Hall’s relationship with TJK, a Japanese girls’ school established more than 130 years ago, has deep roots. Crystal Brunelli, one of TJK’s international studies teachers, previously taught East Asian Studies at Dana in the early 2000s. This connection led to a student exchange between the two institutions for more than a decade, and annual summer TJK student visits to Dana Hall since 2017. Two TJK students are enrolled to study at Dana Hall during the 2023-24 school year.
In addition to the academic exchange between the schools, both also share a passion for women’s leadership development and Model UN. In 2017, former Model UN Coach Heather Panahi went to Tokyo to help TJK develop its program and curriculum. As part of their 10th grade international studies experience, TJK students participate in an on-campus Model UN simulation annually. Since its inception, alums of Dana Hall’s Model UN program have been invited to TJK to chair their conference and serve as mentors to student delegates. This September, Spencer Babcock ’17 will serve as chair of the conference.
“Though Dana Hall and TJK are more than 6,500 miles apart, the faculty and students of both institutions are bound together by a mutual commitment to women’s excellence in education, athletics, the arts and leadership,” Panahi said. “It’s a privilege to be a part of this friendship and sisterhood.”
To learn more about the visit, check out the TJK Life blog, which was written by the students.