Children on stage with projection behind them about the Grassroots Summit

Grassroots Summit Overview

The Grassroots Summit is a citizens exchange operated by the John Manjiro Whitfield Commemorative Center for International Exchange (CIE), rotating between Japan and America annually. In October 2020, Philadelphia will host 150 Japanese individuals for the 30th Annual Grassroots summit. The week long exchange will centers on a homestay program, in which local leaders and host families work together to share the best that their community has to offer, creating a person-to-person exchange of the local cultures.

The Grassroots Summit celebrates the spirit of friendship between the United States and Japan, as exemplified by the friendship between Captain William Whitfield and John Manjiro Nakahama. After rescuing him at sea in 1841, Captain Whitfield shared his home with a young Nakahama Manjiro. The relationship was pivotal in building US-Japan relationships after Japanese isolationism ended, in which Manjiro became a translator and interpreter during the opening of Japan. 

For more details on the Philadelphia and other programs, please visit

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