The Cherry Blossom Princess Education and Cultural Exchange Program is a week-long opportunity for young women from across the U.S. and around the world to come together and network. Since 1948, state and territorial societies, as well as the international embassy community, have selected accomplished young women between the ages of 19 and 24 for their academic achievement, exceptional poise and appearance, excellent interpersonal communication skills, leadership, interest in social, civic, community and world affairs with a strong desire to serve others through community service, maturity and responsibility, and to:
Represent the National Conference of State Societies and Cherry Blossom Princess Program by actively supporting these organizations’ mission, values, and goals.
Serve by attending and actively participating in NCSS and Princess Program community outreach initiatives as well as by serving at required events and social functions.
Learn by taking advantage of opportunities for broadening personal development, volunteerism, and community involvement.
Have fun and make new friends through festival volunteerism – one of the most rewarding and enjoyable aspects of participation in the National Cherry Blossom Princess program.
These young women representatives are called “Cherry Blossom Princesses.” Today more than 3,000 young women have participated in the NCSS Cherry Blossom Princess Education and Cultural Exchange Program since 1948, including daughters of presidents, congressmen and senators. The princess program continues to inspire women of accomplishment. The Pi Alpha Kappa Cherry Blossom Princess Sorority includes Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Shannon Vinson, a Captain in the USAF.
The mission of the program is to have the Cherry Blossom Princesses participate in educational, leadership, and cultural activities as they serve their nation and respective state, territory or embassy in a “Washington Classroom,” by introducing the princesses to many government, cultural, military, business leaders, and female role models, who work in the nation’s capitol. In the past decade, the princesses have met with First Lady Laura Bush; former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi; Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson; Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton; Justice Sandra Day O’Connor; Naval Commander Yvette Brownwhaller; Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught; Red Cross President and CEO Dr. Bernadine Healey, among others.
"When first presented with the opportunity of being a Cherry Blossom Princess I was hesitant. The title, the wardrobe restrictions, the lack of notoriety (information from previous participants) turned me off from the program. However, upon seeing the opportunities I would be faced with I changed my mind. I decided the program would provide me with unbelievable networking possibilities and would be a wonderful learning opportunity. With one day left in the program I am pleased to say I know I made the right decision. I have met so many strong women through this experience and attained so much valuable and applicable advice and I cannot recommend this program enough. You do not need to be a future politician, lawyer or lobbyist to reap the benefits of this program. As an artist interested in the business side of the industry, I know that all young women can profit from this experience. "
— Kaitlin Barker, Louisiana
The United States Cherry Blossom Queen is chosen by a random spin of a wheel of fortune by the Japan Ambassador in Washington, D.C at the Official Cherry Blossom Grand Ball. The following morning, the newly crowned U.S. Cherry Blossom Queen and her Japan counterpart, along with the State, Territory, and International Princesses are invited to participate in the National Cherry Blossom Parade® and the Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival.
Every year since 1948, the United States Cherry Blossom Queen has been selected at the Official Cherry Blossom Grand Ball and Cooronation of the United States Cherry Blossom Queen from among the Cherry Blossom Princesses representing the states and territories. Every year since 1973, the NCSS-sponsored U.S. Cherry Blossom Queen has been officially invited, by the Japan Cherry Blossom Association (JCBA) to visit Japan in May. This year celebrates the 65th Anniversary of the Cherry Blossom Princess Education and Cultural Exchange Program.
In April, 2019, Tilea West of Washington State was selected as the 2019 United States Cherry Blossom Queen. Ms. West visited with Japanese Prime Minister, the Speaker of the House, Members of the Diet, cabinet officials, and several governors when she visited Japan in May. Tilea is a graduate of University of Georgia and enrolled as a Pre-Med student at Georgetown University. Ms. West looks forward to representing the United States this coming year, always remembering the people, community, and state that make her who she is.
NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF STATE SOCIETIES
"Cherry Blossom Princess week has been one of the most special weeks of my life. I also met some truly incredible women in my princess class and at the events. We got VIP treatment to places I would never imagine visiting, like the Japanese Ambassador’s Residence and met with Members of Congress on personal level. We also spent a day giving back to the community by visiting schools and reading to children, which I really appreciated. I am so proud to be a Texan and I’m grateful to the Texas State Society for sponsoring me this week. I’ve made so many new friends and can’t wait to visit them all soon. "
— Shreya Banerjee, Texas
"The Cherry Blossom Princess Program has been the most rewarding, humbling and empowering experience. This program is much more than being a princess for a week, it is developing leadership skills, learning how to serve as a diplomat, how to conduct proper networking, learning about other cultures and much more. I recommend this program to everyone."
— Sophie Czerniecki, New Jersey
"I am not the kind of girl who feels comfortable in a dress and heels. Yet, this week, I met amazing young women very different from myself who continually prove to me that even a “simple small town girl” belonged in D.C. What blew my mind was knowing that every woman here was accomplished and ambitious. We have allies in each other rather than competition." — Abeeha Shamshad, Ohio