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American Children's Ambassador Welcomed

February 3, 2010

The Cuba Friends Meeting in Clinton County, Ohio sent Hope, a doll ambassador or friendship doll, on a voyage of friendship and peace to the Hirado Elementary School in Japan.

The Cuba Friends Meeting in Clinton County, Ohio sent Hope, a doll ambassador or friendship doll, on a voyage of friendship and peace to the Hirado Elementary School in Japan.

The American Friendship Doll Hope was welcomed with smiles by Principal Yoshiaki Ishibashi  and the Hirado Elementary School children on February 2. The school is located on Hirado Island, off the coast of Nagasaki, Japan.

Hope’s mission of friendship was created as part of the exhibit Bridges of Friendship: How Children Learn about Other Cultures.  The exhibit opens at Wilmington College, Ohio on March 3 and explores how children learn about various  cultures through books, dolls, festivals, and music.

The doll ambassador was sent by the Cuba Friends Wednesday Night Youth, a group of preteens in Clinton County, Ohio. They purchased the blue-eyed doll and sewed her clothes. They officially named her Hope for the group’s motto, “Have Our Prayer Everyday.” The girls wrote letters telling about their favorite hobbies.

Upon Hope’s arrival, Principal Ishibashi responded by e-mail to Charlotte Pack, assistant curator of the exhibit, “Hope is a very beautiful doll. We have shown the letters and pictures from Wilmington to the children, and we feel like our foreign friends are suddenly very close!” They plan to send letters and orgami to their new American friends.

This new ambassador has two purposes: Hope will help to develop cross-cultural friendships between nations and keep the Japanese children company while the 1927 Friendship Doll Ellen C. travels home to Wilmington.

Ellen C. was named and dressed by the Wilmington Friends Junior Sunday School class in 1927 as part of an exchange of 12, 736 Friendship Dolls to Japan. The project was organized by Children’s Council on World Friendship among Children. The Committee’s goal was to help ease tensions over the 1924 Immigration Act restricting Japanese immigration to the United States. Japan responded by sending America 58 Dolls of Gratitude created by their best doll artisans. This was an effort at children’s diplomacy.


During World War II, Ellen C. was hidden in a storage closest while most of the American Friendship Dolls were destroyed as “from the enemy.” In America, the dolls were simply put out of sight. 325 American Friendship Dolls have been recovered, including Ellen C., since early 2010.

Ellen C’s homecoming has been arranged as part of the Bridges of Friendship exhibit. She will be displayed at the Quaker Heritage Center from Wednesday, March 3 until Saturday, July 24, when a farewell party will be held in her honor. She will return to her Hirado Kindergarten Class and to her new sister Hope.

The exhibit will be held at the Peace Resource Center, Quaker Heritage Center, and Watson Library on the main campus of Wilmington College. The exhibit will be open Monday through Friday 9:00 – 4:00 with special Saturday and monthly events. It will run through October 1, 2010. For more information contact Charlotte Pack at charlotte_pack@wilmington.edu or 1-937-382-6661.

  • You can learn more about Ellen C.’s journey in the newly published book Finding the Friendship Dolls, A True Story: How Children Can Help Create World Peace through Toys available through the Peace Resource Center Museum Store.
  • Learn more about the Bridges of Friendship exhibit