IMPORTANT: Applicants must have previous experience as a GPI Conversation Buddy to be considered for this program.


*Note:  Postponed for 2023.  Re-start TBA.*


How does it work?

Japan Empowerment is a once-in-a-lifetime volunteer opportunity. Each week summer program participants are sent to various locations throughout Japan to serve as Group Leaders at various high schools and educational institutions. Group Leaders stay with a Japanese host family or in a local hotel. During the week (Monday to Friday), Group Leaders join empowerment programs to help Japanese students develop a better understanding of empowerment and critical thinking while practicing communication in English.

Facilitators guide Group Leaders and Japanese students through daily lessons with activities and discussions exploring different aspects of empowerment. Group Leaders work in small groups with students where they can share viewpoints and perspectives while discovering how students can continue to develop the skills and tools of empowerment in their own lives.

While the curriculum provides an introduction to empowerment themes, and a chance to engage in critical thinking, Group Leaders also have the unique opportunity to inspire Japanese students to pursue their passions, goals, and aspirations through their own experiences and stories.

2020 Program Duration

July 22 – Aug 25, 2020

** 2020 Exclusive: students can experience Tokyo Olympics in Japan!

Program Objectives

1. Group Leaders gain hands-on experience in the field of international education and cross-cultural communication. Group Leaders are also given the opportunity to understand work ethics in the Japanese cultural context.

2. Group Leaders go on a once in a lifetime experience that will give them a very personal, enriching experience. Group Leaders immerse themselves in Japanese culture, make lifelong friendships, and learn a great deal about themselves.

3. Group Leaders are able to understand work ethics in the Japanese cultural context on a deeper level and learn through invaluable experience about the benefits acquired from living outside of your own cultural comfort zone.

Click here for an info presentation.


  • Applicants must have previous experience as a GPI Conversation Buddy to be considered for this program.
  • Holders of passports issued by a country or region that are visa-exempt for visits up to 45 days in Japan.
  • Applicants must currently be enrolled in a 4-year college/university or graduate program in Canada (required to show a valid college/university ID) or be a recent graduate.
  • Attend mandatory pre-departure orientation session (location & time to TBD).
  • Read and respond to all pre-departure material related to Japanese culture and program features.
  • Attend orientation program in Japan prior to the commencement of the program.
  • Act as a leader to students on projects and small group discussions.
  • Share from life experiences to teach, inspire and motivate students.
  • Prepare for various discussions by reviewing handouts and videos.
  • Participate in various activities with students.
  • Comply with all rules and regulations established by GPI/ISA.
  • Japanese language proficiency is NOT required.

Program Costs Covered

  • Airfare: Airfare: Round trip ticket to Japan from Canada.
    • Flight tickets cannot be changed (NO EXCEPTIONS).
    • Additional expenses incurred from traveling to the departure airport and/or additional travel accommodations will NOT be included in costs covered.
  • Inbound Travel Insurance: Basic travel insurance in Japan.
  • Residency: Homestay & Hotel.
  • Transportation in Japan: School Commute (Personal Travel is not covered).
  • Salary: No salary provided.

Deadlines + How to Apply

Submission Deadline
January 10, 2020

**We recommend students interested in this program to apply as soon as possible. Every year the application process becomes more selective and competitive by the general submission deadline.
Applicants will be notified of the results by the end of January.

Step 1. Download form.
Step 2. Fill out form.
Step 3. Email complete form to


Main Office:

What Students Say About Our Program

The highlight of my experience would definitely have to be the homestay. I was a little worried at first but all the families were so kind and welcoming! They made me feel like I was part of the family. I would highly recommend this program to other students.
Angela L.

Angela L.

I really had the time of my life! You don't really know what to expect going into it, but I am so glad I took the chance and did it! It was a month of non-stop fun and adventures. This trip also gave me the chance to become more independent, meet many new people and life long friends, and learn about myself as a person. I never imagined that Japan could get so hot in the summer, but it gave me an excuse to go to the beach! Many times!


It was an amazing experience I don’t think one picture can even begin to encapsulate my experience in Japan. I had so much fun and through the program, students and host families! Even though I was there to teach, I felt that I learned a lot through this experience! I was also really glad that I was part of a variety of different empowerment programs through the weeks (from different locations to different schedule/type of program). I’m so thankful that I was able to participate and get an opportunity like this!


During the last full day in Japan, me and a bunch of the other group leaders went to the side of the river in Asakusa and just reflected on this whole experience. We all agreed that we made amazing memories during this program, and we will treasure these memories forever. At the time, it felt like a chapter in my life was closing. In a way, it was. However, this was also the start of a new chapter in my life, and I have been filled with motivation since coming back from Japan.


My best memory of Japan is my host families. Each family had different lifestyles but they welcomed me with open arms and provided me with an amazing experience for one week. The one that stood out to me the most was the handmade cheesecake in the picture because I never expected them to make a cake for a stranger like me! As the program went on, I started to hate Sundays because I cried every time I had to say goodbye to the host family. This experience that I had in Japan was such an honour and an awesome way for me to learn more about my home country. Thank you so much for granting me this opportunity!


Having spent 3 weeks in Japan as a Global Leader was such a fulfilling experience and challenge. It was great being able to travel the country while meeting and teaching so many students from different schools and prefectures. My host families were nothing but amazing and treated me like I was their actual daughter/sister. I really enjoyed the presentations and projects during the program and was able to see so much growth from the students as the week progressed. It's definitely an experience I'll never forget.
Rosabella (2018)

Rosabella (2018)

It was so inspiring working with all the students in Japan. I was able to see them grow more confident in their presentation skills, as well as actively participating in group discussions all within the span of five days. I'm so grateful for my host families who welcomed me into their homes and shared their culture with me. I had such an enjoyable time and will always cherish all the amazing and unforgettable memories I made during the Empowerment Program in Japan! Thank you for giving me this opportunity; I thoroughly enjoyed it!


This trip to Japan has been amazing! I cannot believe how much enthusiasm the students had to learn English and interact with us, the laughter that was shared, the conversations that were spoken, the adventures that were experiences and how much love I felt. All the places and all of the pictures that I have with me will forever be in my heart and mind. I have treasured these weeks in Japan and will definitely hope to come back and participate in the program again in the future. I would recommend the Empowerment Program to anyone who loves to travel, loves to talk with many people, who enjoys trying out new traditions and lifetsyles, and who enjoys interacting with families and being involved in their lives. Everyone has shown a huge amount of kindness and involvement and I am grateful that I was able to go to Japan with GPI and ISA.