Sustainable Tourism in Japan - innovation & inspiration

BRIDGE: Sarajean Rossitto – negotiating conflict & empowering people

Sarajean Rossitto is a social entrepreneur who chooses work which empowers people.

Sarajean is the first the BRIDGE series- a video series of interviews which focus on long-term international residents in Japan doing great things for people and planet.

Sarajean Rossitto is passionate about effecting social change in her career and private life. She has spent more than 25 years running workshops on conflict negotiation and international communication. She also collaborates on meaningful projects with international aid organizations and has worked for many years with the Mirai no Mori NPO.

According to Sarajean Rossitto’s website, she is a

Tokyo-based consultant providing project event and training program coordination, facilitation and advisory services for nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, international organizations and corporations to better tackle social needs.

She has built up connections with companies, government officials and organizations in Japan and abroad to support not only their staff in training activities and seminars but also found ways managers and officials can be more directly involved in building social equity. In this way, companies and government organizations can elevate their companies branding, fulfill CSR targets and SDG goals.

I wanted to talk with Sarajean because I knew she was the communications director and board member of the Mirai no Mori organization which works with kids and staff from orphanages as well as youth from Tohoku. They create outdoor activities for people who are in need of support. Bringing them into the great outdoors with others who are in a similar situation helps them reconnect with themselves and others through nature-based activities.

In this video discussion with Sarajean, we talk a little about her work and she introduces the backstory of the Mirai no Mori organization as well as the successes and challenges of working with children who have suffered trauma or neglect. There are also opportunities for volunteers to get involved with Mirai no Mori introduced at the end of the video.

In her professional career, Sarajean has long been a social entrepreneur working with international aid government organizations such as the YMCA, JICA, Japan Society for the Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities (JSRPD), project TomoDachi, Peace Boat and many more.

For many years she has taught adults at Temple University and now also teaches courses to university students as well as running training seminars.

When asked if a social entrepreneur can make a living choosing only meaningful projects, she said it is possible, but the work comes in from different international sources and is rather inconsistent throughout the year.

Her advice to anyone considering becoming a social entrepreneur is to be good at communicating clearly and following through with everyone.

Training sessions and seminars for Peace Boat, the BTC TomoDachi program are among many domestic and international projects she has done in Japan over a 26 year career. During her career, she has also worked as an advisor and board member as well as paid coordinator and consultant creating social equity building projects with NPO’s and NGO’s in Japan.

In her personal life, Sarajean has had an active career as an activist, actor, MC and producer for rallies, events and live stage performances. Many of the plays she has promoted tackle social issues such as domestic violence and women empowerment. In the video below, Sarajean speaks out at a #marchforourlives rally in Tokyo. This event was part of an international collaboration of 88 cities worldwide protesting gun violence. It’s powerful when Sarajean says “Don’t just be sad, Do something!”

Sarajean Rossitto expertly uses her international connections and knowhow to help people overcome conflict, learn more about communicating clearly across cultural barriers, establish social equity building programs and organizations, as well as finds ways to speak the truth about societal problems when the need arises. We are lucky to have people like her in our corner. Find out more about Sarajean Rossitto here.

In the video interview with Sarajean on YouTube, she discussed her insights working with the NPO (Non-Profit Organization) Mirai no Mori over the years.

The tagline for the Mirai no Mori organization is “Empowering Marginalized Youth in the Outdoors”. Sarajean shared stories of success the group has had in helping kids from orphanages and from the Tohoku region after the disaster connect with nature, build confidence and make friends. In addition to getting the kids to enjoy outdoor activities, using mentors (champions) who have survived childhood neglect and trauma, as many of the kids on the program have, is one of the key points to the program’s sucess.

It is so inspiring to talk with people like Sarajean Rossitto. Long-time international residents of Japan who are carefully selecting jobs and volunteer activities which help build stronger communities in Japan through diverse projects which make the most of international networks and know-how.

People featured on the BRIDGE series are doing work that has a fundamental aim to use their international connections and knowhow to help local people and the environment. This is key to creating a more sustainable society which in turn makes Japan a more appealing sustainable tourism destination.

The acronym BRIDGE stands for :

  • Bilingual and Bicultural
  • Residents of Japan who bring
  • International appeal to Japanese heritage, community development, and culture. Creating international attention and tourism appeal to lesser-known experiences and off-the-beaten-track
  • Destinations by working with organizations and alongside local
  • Groups to encourage and
  • Engage with both international visitors, residents, and locals to facilitate sustainable, positive change in Japan.