Dartmouth students to attend program in Japan

by Heyi Jiang | 1/21/16 9:35pm

In fall 2016, two Dartmouth students will attend Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan through the Global Leadership Fellows Program for the first time. Students will participate in forums and seminars focused on Asia-Pacific issues in the broader global context and interact with fellow American and Japanese students while living in one of the largest cities in the world, art history professor Allen Hockley said.

Hockley, one of the program organizers at Dartmouth, said the new program is funded by the Japanese Ministry of Education as part of an effort to “internationalize” education amongst major Japanese universities.

“Two or three years ago the Japanese Ministry of Education decided to open up their universities as much as possible,” he said. “They want more students going abroad, and they want more foreign students in their institutions.”

After Waseda first approached the College in 2013, Hockley and Asian and Middle Eastern languages and literatures professor James Dorsey began to evaluate the viability of the program. Program leaders from Dartmouth and Waseda have met often at both the College and at Waseda to discuss program details and logistics, Hockley said. Waseda already partners with other universities in the United States including Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania, so the team engaged in discussions with these other institutions to improve the program, he said. After a series of negotiations, the College welcomed the first two exchange students from Waseda in the fall of 2015.

The program has three components: the U.S.-Japan zemi, the Global Leadership Fellows Forum and the English-based degree programs. The zemi, derived from the German word for seminar, allows students to interact with professors and classmates both inside and outside the classroom, Dorsey said.

“Think of it as your most intense small class intellectual experience at Dartmouth,” Dorsey said. “Think of a first-year seminar combined with an intense DOC trip as well as incorporating the social activities.”

Hockley added that the zemi model is common in Japanese universities, but this program features two zemis specifically designed for the GLFP that focus on the humanities and social sciences.

Zemi students go on field trips that complement their everyday studies, Dorsey said. Students often form relationships with their professors and classmates that last many years after graduation, he said.

“It spills over from the classroom much more than any class at Dartmouth that I know of,” he said.

The Global Leadership Fellows Forum is a largely student-led platform where participants of the GLFP come together and explore issues that are significant on a global scale and attend lectures on leadership from various speakers, Dorsey said. Each year, participants work in groups and explore issues of interest, ranging from water resource management in China to Japan’s earthquake response measures and communication breakdown at Fukushima in 2011.

Dorsey said that past presentations have been centered around the Asia-Pacific region, and students strive to resolve local issues while considering the larger, international context.

The diversity among the GLFP participants significantly enriches their experience at the forum, he said. Because, the participants come from differing backgrounds and concentrate on a wide array of academic disciplines, they are able to approach global issues from multi-disciplinary perspectives, he said.

The English-based degree programs allow American students to continue pursuing their own majors while participating in other GLFP programming, Hockley said. In addition to about 350 courses taught in English, students have access to enriching internship opportunities. Hockley said past participants have interned at the NHK, Japan’s national public broadcasting organization, and Japan Times, one of the oldest and largest English-language newspapers in the country. Waseda pairs those with minimal knowledge of the Japanese language with Japanese students in the program so international students do not encounter a language barrier, he said.

Hockley noted that the biggest challenge the program faces is convincing students to live abroad for a whole year, as most Dartmouth study abroad programs only last one term. Dorsey added that a longer program allows students to fully experience the unique intensity of the zemis and form meaningful connection with their Japanese counterparts.

Besides the year-long GLFP, the College currently offers three other exchange programs with Japanese universities. The LSA+ program at Kanda University of International Studies focuses on language-acquisition, while the exchange programs at both Kanda and Keio University are more open-ended — students are able to choose their own courses without the restrictions of core curriculum.

What differentiates the GLFP at Waseda from similar programs is its focus on creating a generation of future leaders who will be active in the Asia-Pacific region and help dissolve the boundary between the West and the East, Hockley said.

Edel Auh ’18, who went on the Japanese LSA+ at Kanda in summer 2015, said studying and living abroad helped her decide to major in comparative literature, specializing in Japanese and translation, as well as a possible major in the Asian and Middle Eastern languages department. Since she is on the pre-med track, majoring in the sciences could have been a more direct academic path, she said, but her passion in Japanese language and culture was reinforced by her experience in Japan. Living and studying abroad also helped her see the world in a somewhat different light, she said.

“The world is huge, and there is so much to do,” Auh said.

Mari Mizutani , an exchange student from Waseda, said that her experience at the College has been “eye-opening.” Studying and living abroad has given her the opportunity to reflect on her own identity and her goals for the future, she said.

“There are so many people from all around the world,” she said. “It is really good to know we can actually connect even if we have so many different experiences growing up.”

Yuriko Mizogami, another Waseda exchange student, said that global leaders must be able to think from various perspectives and cooperate with others.

“By participating in the GLFP, you can gain all the opportunities to learn those skills, not only from studying abroad and taking courses at the exchange schools but from the interactions with the GLFP members from different backgrounds and from interactions at this school in general,” she said.

Hockley said students can receive a highly specialized education in an exciting city while continuing to work towards their degree.

“It’s a mind–broadening experience,” Dorsey added. “You realize there are various ways to be in the world and that’s a really exciting and important adventure to have had.”