Nissan Motor Co. has marked the completion of the fourth term of its Nissan-NPO Learning Scholarship Program and held an orientation seminar for the start of the fifth.

At the automaker’s head office in Chuo Ward, Tokyo, Nissan President and CEO Carlos Ghosn on Monday presented the 19 fourth-term scholarship recipients with certificates of completion.

“After coming to Japan,” Ghosn said, “it was at a ceremony for this program that I was first able to meet with Japanese students and NPO representatives. I was quite moved at that time by the way in which young people were rising to the challenge of experiencing new things, and by the support offered to those young people in their quest for knowledge-based experience by Japan’s NPOs.

“Since then, I have been very proud that we at Nissan are involved in offering opportunities for these students and groups to interact.”

Since 1998, Nissan has recruited students in Japan looking for experience with nonprofit organizations and provided them with scholarship money. According to the firm, it positions the program as an “investment” in young people who will be responsible for supporting future society.

Nancy Kassebaum-Baker, a former senator and wife of the U.S. ambassador, was on hand to encourage the students.

“The essence of what a nation becomes matters on people like you, who are willing to participate,” she said. “Nissan is a worldwide company and its diversity, its cultures are different from place to place. But its great success is in its understanding of the diversity.”

Naoya Matsuda, a graduate student at the University of Tokyo who was one of the 19 people who received the scholarship, said the program, under which he worked at an environmental NPO, changed his idea of what society can be.

“As a student, I always thought that society was something that was already there,” he said. “I never imagined that I could take part in changing it. But by joining this program, I felt that I was allowed to participate in doing something to change society.”

Seventeen students who were newly selected as scholarship recipients for the fifth term program will start their programs at 15 NPOs beginning this month.

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