Yoichiro Ashida ’20Yoichiro Ashida ’20 Credit: Julia Houédé ’23

Every College of the Atlantic student completes an eight- or 11-week internship in order to meet COA’s graduation requirements. For Ashida, Ashoka Japan was a natural fit. The social entrepreneurship network, which has 39 offices around the world, focuses on creative positive social change. This resonates with Ashida, who has devoured courses at on social justice and sustainable business at COA with the vision of making a real difference in the world. 

“It was amazing to be a part of a movement; to start a change in Japanese culture.”

Ashida’s experience was life-changing, he said, and gave him new sets of skills he will continue to use in the future. Ashoka Japan’s main goal is to create a change in the Japanese community regarding social action. They participate in global leadership with a vision of approaching permanent solutions to social justice issues and to encourage evolution in society.

What inspired you to intern at Ashoka Japan?

“I grew up in Tokyo, living in a culture of consistency towards social and personal change. A country of security; raised with the expectation to only seek growth in yourself, and not through yourself and others. Everyone who is a part of Ashoka Japan wants to make a positive difference and change in communities to guide permanent resolutions to problems. They create an environment that teaches specific, valuable criteria to people all over the world, and that is fascinating to me. I wanted to become a part of that environment.”

What were some of your jobs and tasks while interning?

“One of my jobs was to search for new candidates for Ashoka Fellows. Ashoka Fellows are the standing social entrepreneurs working on social problems throughout communities worldwide, with a growing number of 3,700 entrepreneurs. Another job was to keep track of Ashoka Japan’s Youth Venture Programs. The Youth Venture Program follows specific criteria; candidates must be ages 12-20, candidates must possess a desire to make a change along with a passion for internal motivation. I Ashoka is an international organization with a mission to "shape a global, entrepreneurial, ...Ashoka is an international organization with a mission to "shape a global, entrepreneurial, competitive citizen sector: one that allows social entrepreneurs to thrive and enables the world's citizens to think and act as changemakers."had to go through their credentials and meet with them to see if they can be a part of the Youth Venture Program. I also helped write the network’s Progress Report to showcase the work and current projects from the last two years.”

What was the most valuable experience or piece of your internship?

“It was amazing to be a part of a movement; to start a change in Japanese culture. Each task I completed helped me gain the professional skills I need for my career. For example, being a part of the Ashoka Fellow candidate process helped me develop the skills of encouraging positive change within others. Writing the Progress Report for the company helped me gain a better understanding of the people who are a part of Ashoka Japan, and the true ideals and values of the network.

The network constantly inspires me for how much passion and vision is present within the Ashoka Fellows. Ashoka Japan doesn’t value fame or fortune; they value what they believe in. The whole experience made me hopeful for the future of Japan’s society.”

Will you continue with Ashoka after graduation?

“Yes I will definitely continue a career in social entrepreneurship; hopefully with Ashoka Japan. I want to be around the ‘equal access for all’ mindset and environment Ashoka Japan offers. I want to show everyone that they have the capability to change and to take action.”