The following reflection is a guest post written by Miyu Hayashi, a Spring 2016 alum and honoree of the Stanford e-Japan Program, which is currently accepting applications for Spring 2020. She is now a medical student at Mie University, Faculty of Medicine.
While the United States is often regarded as an individualistic society, Japan, in general, has more of a group mentality with many people not wanting to stand out. But, I think we as Japanese need to be able to explain ourselves more clearly in today’s globalized society where people around the world interact more frequently. I had a strong interest in the Spring 2016 Stanford e-Japan Program because it involved lectures and discussions I usually could not participate in.
The lectures included historical topics such as the importance of early U.S.–Japan relations and World War II, and also contemporary topics such as Silicon Valley and entrepreneurship and high schools in the United States and Japan. Students were expected to complete the lectures and readings that were assigned before the online classes. In our lesson on World War II, I read and compared U.S. and Japanese textbook excerpts for the first time, which helped me learn the American point of view in regard to the war. In our lesson on entrepreneurship, I learned the importance of having an entrepreneur-like spirit to improve companies, thinking outside of the box, and having a culture that accepted failure as a positive experience (as long as the failure taught important lessons). In my experience, most Japanese like to live a standard and stable life, and act and think in the same way as others for fear that they might make mistakes. In contrast, an entrepreneurial spirit shows a true passion for building something fantastic from nothing. Learning about this mindset of pushing oneself to the limit to achieve great goals impressed me a lot.
Another key aspect that made the Stanford e-Japan Program interesting was all my peers. They were highly motivated and discussions with them were always stimulating. We helped each other understand lessons more clearly and generate more ideas about each topic. Trying to answer their questions on the online discussion forums offered me a chance to improve myself because these discussions revealed my mistakes and weaknesses or supporting ideas that I had not thought of before. Also, reading other students’ ideas, listening to their questions, and learning from professors’ answers opened up different aspects of each topic.
Now I am a medical student in Japan and hope to be a good doctor who goes everywhere to provide help to those who need it. I am especially interested in doctors who work to promote international health. Last year, I had an opportunity through a university program to travel to China and learn about the Chinese healthcare system for about two weeks. The Shanghai Children’s Medical Center was large and filled with many children and their families. Though the doctors and nurses must have been busy, they kindly explained children’s diseases to us. Since both the Chinese doctors and I were not native English speakers, it was sometimes difficult to communicate with each other. Even when I could not understand them fully, I tried to learn as much as possible. I often paraphrased or asked questions without fear of making mistakes. The Stanford e-Japan experience gave me the confidence to speak English and the eagerness to learn new things. As a result, I could enjoy every minute I spent in China.
The Stanford e-Japan Program has become one of my most precious experiences. It gave us a chance to learn about different societies, cultures, and ways of thinking. It broadened my horizons so that I would like to make full use of having experienced it, not only in my long-term future plans, but also in my short-term plans. When the 2020 Olympics are held in Japan, I would be willing to help anyone in trouble. And as a doctor, I want to study in the U.S., since it is one of the world leaders in medicine. I would like to improve the field of medicine in collaboration with doctors from around the world.
For more information on the Stanford e-Japan Program, visit stanfordejapan.org. The Spring 2020 application period is open now until January 8, 2020. To be notified when the next Stanford e-Japan application period opens, join our email list or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Stanford e-Japan is one of several online courses for high school students offered by SPICE, Stanford University, including the Reischauer Scholars Program, the China Scholars Program, the Sejong Scholars Program (on Korea), and Stanford e-China. Also, SPICE offers the following regional online courses in Japan: Stanford e-Hiroshima, Stanford e-Oita, Stanford e-Tottori, and Stanford e-Kawasaki. Students interested in these regional online courses should contact Gary Mukai at firstname.lastname@example.org.