Annual Report 2020-2021 - UWC ISAK Japan

2020-21 Academic Year


This report is our opportunity to inform and inspire our global community. Here, you will find highlights of the 2020-21 academic year and updates on how we have pursued our unique school mission.


Co-Founder and Chair of the Board

Lin Kobayashi

Representative Founder and Board Director

Mamoru Taniya

Founding Head of School

Rod Jemison

Co-Founder and Chair of the Board

Lin Kobayashi

Every year has been special in its own way, but this school year in particular will be one that we will never forget. Responding to the pandemic tested our resilience and agility as a community in an unprecedented way. Even two months before August, we did not know if the border would reopen in time for our new school year. There were so many international schools in Japan and across the UWC movement that started to lose their students due to significant uncertainties and health concerns and our Board decided that we had to prepare for the worst.

Words can never express my gratitude for our supporters, who responded with incredible speed, warmth, and generosity when we sent out an “SOS” message during the summer. Emergency funds and in-kind gifts kept arriving at our doorstep (virtually and physically) and each gift and contribution touched us deeply and affirmed that we are not in this battle alone. On behalf of the Board of Directors, I want to express our deepest appreciation to our supporters for everything they did to lift up UWC ISAK Japan over the past year. These are the moments that we will never forget.

We are humbled and grateful to be able to report to you that we are finishing this school year without a financial deficit. Although the pandemic may not yet be over, we are confident that we are prepared for a new future that awaits us – thanks to everyone in the UWC ISAK community. Once again, thanks to everyone for their continued trust and for joining us in this exciting journey.

Representative Founder and Board Director

Mamoru Taniya

Over the past year, I was extremely moved by the amazing efforts of the faculty, staff, supporters and students in dealing with the incredibly challenging situation caused by COVID-19. Our students, in particular, continue to inspire me by their efforts to bring solidarity to the UWC ISAK Japan community and move in directions that will unite people around the globe. They truly are becoming the leaders that the world needs.

Our alumni, most of whom are engaged in full-time university studies, continue to support UWC ISAK with their time, talent, and even their financial treasure. I am so thankful to see their outpouring of gratitude and goodwill.

When Lin Kobayashi and I first started (UWC) ISAK, we dreamed that one day this school would be considered one of the best schools in Asia. Some media already speak of us in this way and, of course, I have always believed it. But for me, the proof of the value of UWC ISAK Japan will always be seen in the character and the actions of our students and alumni.

I am deeply grateful to everyone who continues to support UWC ISAK Japan and have never been more excited about what lies ahead for our school and the changemakers who call it home. The best is yet to come!

Founding Head of School

Rod Jemison

There is not one feeling, idea, or even phrase that can describe the 2020-2021 year at UWC ISAK Japan. With the world turned upside down, our emotions went from excitement when our returning students were allowed to reenter the country in July to sadness with the idea that our new students would still be delayed until further notice. But then came the day the campus erupted with joy when the Japanese government announced it would begin issuing new visas. (Arata Katayama, especially can attest to this).

When our final student arrived in November and nearly everyone was finished quarantine, we seemed to be headed for a normal school year. But in the first week of January 2021, things again took a turn for the worse as a small number of our community were confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 upon returning from winter break. We implemented immediate countermeasures, which included a campus lockdown and rigorous testing. This period challenged us all and took a mental toll, but thanks to the incredible resilience of our community and the support from our Board, parents, and local stakeholders, we passed this trial and had much to look forward to going into February and March and through the end of the school year.

You often hear our Chair Lin and I say, “it is not how you start, but how you finish.” It is a refrain we’d repeat daily to whoever would listen. But finish strong we did when we all gathered as one community on a beautiful day in May to celebrate the graduating Class of 2021. We witnessed this special class, who together survived historic typhoons and pandemics during their time at UWC ISAK Japan, toss their mortarboards into the air outside the newly opened Accord Center to signify the end of their student-journey at UWC ISAK Japan.

When I reflect on the 2020-21 academic year, what stands out the most is the unbridled success of our community in the face of adversity. More importantly, in line with the spirit of our Founders, our belief in UWC ISAK Japan never wavered. In fact, I believe that the passion, dedication, and commitment has never been stronger and the future never brighter.

Every day, we recognize that we are in the extraordinary position of having supporters who stand by us no matter the circumstances. I’d like to tell every individual that their support makes a difference and thank them for their belief in UWC ISAK Japan.



UWC makes education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future.


At UWC ISAK Japan we empower each other to be transformational leaders who explore new frontiers and make a positive impact today and in the future.



Provided in Scholarships


Of Students Received Financial Assistance


High School Students From 84 Countries


Staff and Faculty From Around the World


Gratitude to our Supporters



The global pandemic accelerated its pace in February and March and national borders were rapidly closing. As a school, we had to rapidly respond and made the decision to send students home. It was a tremendously challenging and emotional time, but thanks to the incredible efforts of our entire community, we were able to get a large majority of our students back to their families.

Natsu Matsuri



Each summer, our campus comes to life at the end of July for our annual Summer School. However, this year's edition was cancelled for the first time ever due to the global pandemic.

While it was disappointing, around 40 high school students who were unable to return home due to travel restrictions helped us maintain an upbeat atmosphere throughout the summer as they awaited their next window to return home or head to university.

The unprecedented step of hosting such a large group of students through the summer was only possible thanks to the incredible contributions of our supporters.




ISAKx was launched in the summer of 2020 as an online-only platform for students eager to experience the "ISAK" approach to education, but are unable to attend a program in person.

The program initially launched with 2 core courses in Exploring Leadership and Society & Politics, but by Spring of 2021 had expanded to also offer Winter and Spring Short Courses.

Despite being an entirely new and from scratch initiative, all ISAKx programs were fully enrolled and achieved nearly 100% satisfaction ratings.

Winter School Hike



In response to the cancellation of Summer School due to pandemic-related complications, Winter School was launched to provide Summer School registrants with an onsite UWC ISAK experience.

The Winter School program introduced students to many of the same elements that Summer School is known for, such as leadership, design thinking, and diversity. In addition, many of our high school students, who were on their own winter breaks, chose to volunteer at Winter School, which gave it an even more international atmosphere.

The Accord Center ISAK Japan



Thanks to the incredible generosity of Hitoshi Honda, one of UWC ISAK Japan's 100 Founders, The Accord Center (TAC) was opened for campus activity following the winter break.

TAC was designed as a multi-purpose facility and, depending on the configuration, adds 3 classrooms, a performance center, art gallery, banquet hall, and seminar venue to our campus. It quickly proved its incredible value to our community and was the centerpiece of much of the vital activity that took place on campus at the end of the year, including the Art Exhibition, Film Festival, Graduation Banquet, and served as the backdrop for the Class of 2021's mortarboard toss after the Graduation Ceremony.




2021 started with one of the biggest challenges UWC ISAK had ever experienced: positive COVID tests. A small number of our community had caught the virus, which forced our school to implement extraordinary measures (including campus and residence lockdowns and rigorous testing) to keep our school community and the Karuizawa community safe.

Despite the hardship, we were able to endure and in early February celebrated our international diversity and the end of lockdown at International Day.

Spring Project Week ISAK Japan



Project Week is always a special event, but the 2021 Spring edition featured something extra special: a startup pitch contest!

As part of the Grade 10 Leadership Program, students were challenged to work in teams to create their own startup business and pitch their idea to a panelist of judges, who were themselves successful entrepreneurs. The judges took their role as seriously as the student teams and the end result was an enthralling event packed with incredibly well-prepared pitches.




Having endured the unexpected trials of an unprecedented typhoon in 2019 and the global pandemic of 2020-21, this Class will always represent resiliency.

On May 30th, our campus was treated to one of the most beautiful days of the year for our celebration of the Class of 2021. We watched our newest grads toss their mortarboards against the backdrop of the recently christened Accord Center and bright blue sky for the most fitting of send-offs.


UWC ISAK Japan is committed to educating in a deliberately diverse environment with students from all socio-economic, cultural and religious backgrounds. To meet this commitment, we provide need-based support to 70% of our students. Furusato Nozei is the most important source for our scholarship and for 2020, we received 330,337,000 Japanese yen despite the worldwide pandemic. (95% of your donations go to UWC ISAK Japan with 5% going to the betterment of education in Karuizawa.) We sincerely appreciate your support and trust in us. Thank you very much.



* Our students receive financial assistance fully or partially from Furusato Nozei and other sources.


Korea Japan Stairs


A special effort in international diplomacy earned three UWC ISAK Japan students a Changemaker Award for their work to promote constructive dialogue between the youth of Japan and Korea. The award was given to Junpei (Class of 2022 / Japan), Ichiro (Class of 2022 / Japan), and Yuina (Class of 2021 / Japan) by ESIBLA, a Japan-based organization dedicated to making inquiry-based learning with an emphasis on using English.

Gabriel's Proposal


Few would argue that 2020 was a rollercoaster of a year. For recent grad Gab Ponon (Philippines / Class of 2020), the past twelve months delivered a year with more ups and downs than he could have imagined. But a remarkable sense of resilience and positivity have carried him through the trials, and he is finding innovative ways to support his community.

Gabriel's Proposal
Technovation Award UWC ISAK Japan


Three UWC ISAK Japan students were selected to represent Japan in a global tech competition, having bested 22 other teams of female junior- and senior-high school students to claim the national title.

Technovation is a competition for girls from all over the world to learn and apply the skills needed to solve real-world problems through technology and coding. Isabel (Italy-USA), Cathy (China), and Mana (Japan), all members of the UWC ISAK Japan Class of 2022, created a business plan around a smartphone application that supports foreigners in their transition to a peaceful life in Japan by walking them through topics including local culture, VISA applications, laws and norms.


Click on each image to learn more about our newest faculty members.

History/Social Studies and TOK

Taymour Bouran

Social/Emotional Health Counselor; Interfaith

Jonathan Kerr

House Mentor

Judy Kerr

Outdoor Education

Florence Larpent


Shermeen Ng

History/Social Studies and TOK

Taymour Bouran

I graduated from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada where my passion for teaching and social sciences began. Before coming to Japan, I taught IB MYP Individuals and Societies for two years in Jordan and started a master’s degree in Modern International and Transnational History at the University of Oslo; which I am in the process of completing. I am constantly driven to discover new perspectives and research topics that connect disciplines across the social sciences. My philosophy in education stems from the crucial foundation of open, honest, and critical discussion. In my spare time, I enjoy exploring new places and going on multi-day hikes.

Social/Emotional Health Counselor; Interfaith

Jonathan Kerr

Mr. Kerr earned a university degree in broadcasting communications and a master’s degree in community counseling from Georgia State University. His profession has allowed him to serve in leadership in several U.S. state counseling organizations, as a counselor in a college setting, as a team lead in a community mental health setting, and as a counselor training supervisor. His passion is for helping individuals find their best selves. His interests include anything involving the great outdoors, curling up with a good book, and spending time with family.

House Mentor

Judy Kerr

My list of college degrees may be interesting but doesn’t carry the personal importance that my experience inside and outside the classroom of college students, young teens, and young children has brought. If I could condense my learning to one thought or bit of knowledge it would be this, “ALL humans need to know that they are valued and loved.” No matter where I go or where I have been, every experience of teaching and integrating my life with the lives of people, no matter the age, has always brought me back to this point that people need value and love from each other. Consequently, I have learned a lot from my students. What drives my inner engine is an honest interaction. I am an educator, an artist, a musician, a gardener, a mom, and a lover of creation in all of its forms and I will always be passionately curious.

Outdoor Education

Florence Larpent

Florence Larpent grew up in France and New Caledonia and completed her Master’s degree at Strasbourg University. She has worked as a French teacher, Outdoor Education coordinator and MYP coordinator in several IB schools around the world including UWC Maastricht and UWC East Africa. She enjoys traveling and discovering new places, especially the outdoors. She is excited to teach and share her passion for nature and outdoor activities while taking students hiking, cycling, rock-climbing, kayaking or skiing to name just a few.


Shermeen Ng

I am a Singaporean who loves traveling, food, and adventure. I enjoy learning about cultures that are different from mine and getting to know people from various parts of the world. After graduation, I joined the teaching profession and have enjoyed working with young adults for the last 20 years. I feel lucky that my love for teaching allows me to live in different countries.


Like their children, the parents of our students embrace the UWC ISAK Japan mission and vision. We are so grateful for their support, encouragement, and trust. Click on their images below to view their video messages.


The generosity of our Founders, Catalyst Supporters, and donors who have made a life-changing education possible for students from around the world. Donations of every size support the mission of UWC ISAK Japan and we thank everyone who has contributed to our school. Please see the full list of our Founders and Catalyst Supporters HERE.

Donor Recognition

Yasushi Ando Scholarship

Junko Fukutake Scholarship
Goh Family Scholarship
Honjo Scholarship
Tomonori Ito Scholarship
Saori and Shinji Kimura Scholarship
Akira Kosugi Scholarship
Shigeru Sato Scholarship
Makiko Suehiro Scholarship
Goldman Sachs
Hoppy Scholarship
Ichigo Asset Scholarship
Neuberger Berman Scholarship Fund
YKK Holding Asia Scholarship
W&M Solar Power Scholarship*
W.L.S. Spencer Foundation

Canyon Capital Japan Scholarship

HOPE Scholarship
HSBC Group Scholarship
Morgan Stanley
Nomura Holdings Scholarship
Proverbs 16:16 Scholarship
Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank Scholarship

The Nippon Foundation Scholarship

Davis-UWC Scholars Program

ABLE, Inc.

Mizuho Financial Group, Inc.

Agos Japan Corporation
airweave, Inc.
IDEO Tokyo
LIXIL Group Corporation
Morrison and Foerster, LLP
Panasonic Corporation
SECOM Co., Ltd.
TMI Associates
Evergreen Tax Accountant Corporation


UWC ISAK Japan students have been matriculated to the following institutions (Classes of 2017-2020).

University of Melbourne
University of Monash
University of Queensland
University of Sydney

Carleton University
Concordia University
Langara College
McGill University
Mount Allison University
Queen's University
Quest University
St. Thomas University
University of British Columbia
University of Toronto

University of Mannheim

Savannah College of Art and Design University (Hong Kong)

Flame University

Asia Pacific University
International Christian University
Kanazawa University
Keio University (GIGA)
Keio University (PEARL) Kyushu
Nagoya University of Commerce and Business
Rikkyo University
Shibaura Institute of Technology
Sophia University
Tokyo International University
Musashino Art University
Okayama University
Ritsumeikan University
Waseda University

KIMEP University

Amsterdam University College
Erasmus University College
Erasmus University, Rotterdam School of Management
Radboud University Nijmegen
Universiteit Leiden
University of Amsterdam
University of Groningen
University of Maastricht
University of Twente
Utrecht University

Sultan Qaboos University

Yale NUS

Faculty of Medicine Ramathibodi Hospital at Mahidol University
Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University

New York University Abu Dhabi

Abertay University
SOAS, University of London
King’s College London
Queen Mary University
University College London
University of Bath
University of Bristol
University of Dundee
University of Durham
University of Edinburgh
University of Exeter

University of Sheffield
University of Manchester
University of St. Andrews
University of The Arts London

Babson College
Bard College
Bates College
Bennington College
Boston University
Brown University
Carleton College
Carnegie Mellon University
Case Western Reserve University
Clark University
Colby College
Colorado College
College of Idaho
College of the Atlantic
Cornell University
Drexel University
Earlham College
Furman University
Georgetown University
Kalamazoo College
Lewis & Clark College
Lake Forest College
Loyola Marymount University
Luther College
Macalester College
Methodist University
Middlebury College
Minerva Schools at KGI
New York University
Northeastern University
Nova Southeastern University
Occidental College
Pitzer College
Randolph Macon College
Ringling College of Art and Design
Sarah Lawrence College

Savannah College of Art and Design
School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) at Tufts University
Santa Clara University
Skidmore College
Smith College
St. Olaf College
Tufts University
Trinity College
Union College
University of Chicago
University of California - Berkeley
University of California - Davis
University of Maine
University of Oklahoma
University of Pennsylvania
University of Pittsburgh
University of Rochester
University of Southern California
University of Utah
University of Washington
Vanderbilt University
Washington and Lee University
Wellesley College
Wheaton College
Whitman College
Williams College
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Yale University

RMIT University Vietnam

Semester at Sea
Global Citizen Year
Canada Conservation Corps


Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado

Rotated Compass

Lin Kobayashi (CHAIR)
Mamoru Taniya
Roderick Jemison
Hidehiro Imatsu
Masahiro Koshiba
Paul McInerney
Shusaku Minoda
Kotaro Yamagishi
Kimiya Yamamoto

Nobuyuki Idei (CHAIR)
David Katsujin Chao
Heang Chhor
Yasuchika Hasegawa
Takashi Kawamura
Kakutaro Kitashiro
Kan Suzuki
Fumio Tateishi

Yasushi Ando
Kenji Hosokawa
Naoki Tamura

Hidehiko Hayashi (CHAIR)
Heang Chhor
Kenji Govaers
Yasushi Hatakeyama
Hitoshi Honda
Ryusuke Honjo
Hiroshi Ito
Roderick Jemison
Lin Kobayashi
Yojiro Koizumi
Hiroko Kono
Masahiro Koshiba
Mariko Magnan
Thomas Miller

Shusaku Minoda
Suguru Miyake
Elizabeth Oswald

Jennifer Paddock
Shigeru Sato
Toru Shimada
Makiko Shinoda
Norio Takamatsu
Shotaro Tanaka
Mamoru Taniya
Koki Uchiyama
Yasuhiro Wakebayashi
Kimiya Yamamoto
Masakazu Yanagisawa
Charlotte Yew

(listed by date of contribution)

Mamoru Taniya
Lin and Shigetoshi Kobayashi
Yuriko Takahashi
Kimiya Yamamoto
Masakazu Yanagisawa
Rika Aoi
Fumio Tateishi
Michiyo and Hidehiko Hayashi
Hiroko Kono
Hidehiro Imatsu
Fumiko Ozawa (Kanenobu)
Brian Nelson
Masahiro Koshiba
Masaru Kojima
Einosuke Yoshino
Gen Kato
Takashi Inoue
Shotaro Tanaka
Takashi Murata
Makoto Takano
Takeshi Natsuno
Hiroaki Mizutani
Shogo Kawada
Teruhide Sato
Kohei Matsuki
Nobuyuki Idei
Kakutaro Kitashiro
Tomoharu Inoue
Tomonori Ito
Kotaro Yamagishi
Heang Chhor
Eiichi Miyazawa

Amane Nakashima
Yasuro Koizumi
Ogawa Scholarship Foundation
Hideki Kinuhata
Ichiro Miyake
Ryusuke Honjo
Edward Suzuki
Yuichiro Sugahara
Haruhiro Tsujimoto
Shin Horie
Ken Takayama
Koichi Saura
Ishibashi Foundation
Katsunori Sago
Masakazu Iwakura
Haruki Kamiyama
Masatada Kobayashi
Kazutoshi Kobayashi
Mariko and Jacques Magnan
Kaji Family
Shigeru Sato
Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.
Taizo Hasebe
Shinichiro Okumoto
Junko Fukutake
Hitoshi Honda
Terumi and Yojiro Koizumi
Yasushi Ando
Hiroyuki Arita
Mikiko and Toshio Iwasaki
Noriko Yamaguchi
Seiji Yasubuchi
Shinji Kimura
Shusaku Minoda

Toshio Himuro
Nonaka Institute of Knowledge
Hoppy Mina Co., Ltd.
Okada Memorial Club
Ichiro Kawanabe
Shuhei Morofuji
Suguru Miyake
United Managers Japan Inc.
Akiyuki Nagase
Yoko Takai
Makiko Suehiro
Keizo Fujitake
Shinji Yoshizawa
Koki Uchiyama
Yasuhiro Wakebayashi
Mei Yu
Takahisa Fujitake
Jun Furukawa
Toru Shimada
Nobuo Sayama
Hitoshi Kashiwaki
Ayako Yoshida
(Masako and Hiroshi Sasaki)
Yi Shi
Paul and Maki McInerney
Takashi Kawamura
United States-Japan Foundation
Yasushi Fujita
Muneaki Masuda
Maki and Yasu Hatakeyama
Masahisa Ikeda
Tsuguhiko Kadokawa
Ken Aoyama

(listed by date of contribution)

Yasumasa Manabe
Naruatsu Baba
Satoru Oshita
Xiaolei Sun
Yew Lin Goh
YKK Holding Asia Pte Ltd.
Takeshi Tanaka
Yoshiaki Fujimori
Junko Mori
Haruo Nakamura
Akira Kosugi
Genki Shiota
Tamotsu Kosano
Ryo Ohira
Riso Kyoiku Iwasa Foundation
Hattori International Scholarship Foundation
Ryo Abe
Takahiro Sugawara
Hiroyuki Watanabe
Hikaru Shimura
Shinichi Yamamoto
Yuki and Makoto Arima
Koichiro Hashimoto
Mizuho Financial Group, Inc.
Tatsuya Hayashi
Byking Inc.
Ken Tamagawa
Kenji Govaers

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5827-136 Nagakura
Karuizawa, Kitasaku-gun,
Nagano 389-0111


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