BY ROSANNA LANDIS WEAVER — On Sunday, March 23, women business leaders from Hyattsville traded tips with women from the other side of the world, a place where “leaning in” is more likely to mean bowing than seeking promotions.
The gathering was part of TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership program, a cooperative program between the U.S. and Japanese governments, created to encourage entrepreneurial skill-building. It focuses particularly on young women working in the region devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011. A total of 25 participants — young women in their early 20s — joined six mentors for the eight-day program in the United States.
Hyattsville was the first stop after a short orientation.
The gathering was designed to help the Japanese participants feel more comfortable in engaging in conversations with Americans. Dan Ewett, vice president of Cultural Vistas, the international exchange organization that facilitated the trip, reports that the travelers received a “gregarious welcome” from the participants the city had invited.
“We have a long-standing relationship with the city,” noted Ewett. “They’ve hosted other participants of [our] program [and] others.”
Attendees, who answered questions on a range of topics, included ArtWorks’ executive director Barbara Johnson; Pizza Paradiso founder Ruth Gresser; Anne Marie Binsner, of Court-Appointed Special Advocates of Prince George’s County, Principal Julia Burton from Hyattsville Elementary School; Wanda Ramos, of the Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning Commission; and Victoria Clark, from the Mall at Prince George’s.
Entertainment was provided by Hyattsville resident Cynthia Way on ukelele. Way led the crowd in singing, “This little light of mine, From Hyattsville to Tokyo, I’m gonna let it shine.”