Summer Snyder travels to Japan as U.S. student delegate to the Kakehashi Project
The 10-day trip – fully funded by Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs – was designed to expose high school and university students to various aspects of Japanese culture and modern society through cultural visits, school tours, and homestay experiences.
In Tokyo, Ms. Snyder toured the Chiba Institute of Technology’s Tokyo Skytree Town® Campus at Tokyo Skytree, participated in discussions with faculty at the University of Tokyo, and delivered a speech at Kantei, the Japanese Prime Minister’s official residence and workplace. In her speech, which she delivered in Japanese and on behalf of the Kakehashi Project U.S. delegation, Ms. Snyder thanked the Japanese government for their generous invitation to the students to visit Japan. In addition, she discussed how the Kakehashi Project gave them a valuable opportunity to reflect on their Japanese language studies and the importance of language in connecting the United States and Japan.
After departing Tokyo, Ms. Snyder and the other delegates traveled to Yamagata prefecture to experience the culture and hospitality of the Tohoku region. During this trip, she visited multiple historical sites important to the Uesugi samurai clan and stayed with a host family who owned a hot spring for three nights. During this time, she learned about life in rural Japan.
Asked what she enjoyed most about the trip, Ms. Snyder commented that she particularly enjoyed spending time with her host family in Yamagata because it exposed her to aspects of Japanese culture about which she had not previously known very much. She said, “It was a great opportunity because I saw the intricacies of how Japanese society works.” One example which particularly struck her was the local community’s attempt to prevent damage to the town’s trees using skirt-like contraptions that protected the trees from heavy snowfall. She could not recall having seen any communities in the United States rally around this kind of local issue in a similar manner.
Ms. Snyder also mentioned that things she had learned through 21JPSI’s interdisciplinary speaker series, particularly lectures by experts in religious studies, sociology, and journalism, had been very helpful during her trip. On a general level, the variety of diverse topics covered in the speaker series had also helped her feel comfortable in academic settings where the topic being discussed was unfamiliar to her.
Ms. Snyder is eager to return to Japan and is currently applying for a MEXT Scholarship to support her planned study abroad and research at Keio University next academic year.
Evan Wright travels to Washington, DC to promote HLS and 21JPSI
In late February, 21JPSI Assistant and Hamilton Lugar School (HLS) undergraduate Evan Wright traveled to Washington D.C. along with a team of HLS Student Ambassadors to participate in the School’s “HLS Comes to You” recruitment event.
During his visit, Mr. Wright participated in a Q&A panel on student jobs. He highlighted his work coordinating and promoting 21JPSI and other guest speaker engagements, and discussed how his work provided not only a valuable and substantive learning experience but also an excellent opportunity to learn about the various ways one can pursue a career related to U.S.-Japan relations—in academia, policy, and beyond.
After the event concluded, Mr. Wright mingled with prospective students to discuss the professional development, networking, and learning opportunities that 21JPSI provides. These students expressed particular interest in 21JPSI’s public-facing events, including the national conference on U.S.-Japan relations and the “Japan Politics and Society” speaker series.
*The 21st Century Japan Politics and Society Initiative (21JPSI) was launched at Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies in 2018. Under the leadership of Founding Director and HLS faculty member Adam Liff, 21JPSI aims to invigorate and expand research, teaching, and programming on contemporary Japanese politics, society, and international (esp. U.S.-Japan) relations, and to educate, raise awareness, and debate policy responses to the various political, social, and foreign policy challenges that Japan faces in this extremely dynamic era of 21st-century change. Supported by a generous $900,000 grant from the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership, in its first five years 21JPSI has enabled a new tenure-track faculty search; new courses on contemporary Japan; a speaker series on Japanese Politics and Society; biennial conferences on U.S.-Japan relations; graduate research fellowships, and faculty travel grants. For more information, please see https://jpsi.indiana.edu/ or write to firstname.lastname@example.org