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Applications opened today for the China Scholars Program (CSP), Sejong Korea Scholars Program (SKSP), and Reischauer Scholars Program (RSP) on Japan—three intensive online courses offered to high school students across the United States by SPICE, Stanford University. All three applications can now be viewed at https://spicestanford.smapply.io/. Interested students must submit their completed application (including an essay and letter of recommendation) by the October 31, 2022 deadline.

All three online courses are currently accepting applications for the Spring 2023 term, which will begin in February and run through June. Designed as college-level introductions to East Asia, these academically rigorous courses offer high school students the unique opportunity to engage in a guided study of China, Korea, or Japan directly with leading scholars, former diplomats, and other experts from Stanford and beyond.

Rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors in the United States are eligible to apply to any of the three online courses. Students who are interested in more than one program can apply to two or three and rank their preferences on their applications; those who are accepted into multiple programs will be invited to enroll in their highest-preference course. High school students with a strong interest in East Asia and/or international relations are especially encouraged to apply.

“Some students who enroll in our online courses already have a solid foundation in East Asia, but many do not,” says Dr. Tanya Lee, instructor of the China Scholars Program. “What’s important is that they come with a curious mind and a willingness to work hard. We’re fortunate to be able to connect high school students with all kinds of scholars with expertise in China, Korea, and Japan, and we want our students to make the most of this opportunity.”

For more information on a specific online course, please refer to its individual webpage at chinascholars.org, sejongscholars.org, or reischauerscholars.org. The CSP, SKSP, and RSP are part of SPICE’s online student programs.


To be notified when the next application period opens, join our email list and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Evan Wright (front row, third from the right), Adriana Reinecke, RSP 2009 (first row, third from the left), and Monica, RSP 2013 (second row, third from the right) with the Reischauer Center staff in Mt. Vernon
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The Reischauer Legacy: How the RSP Inspired Me to Dedicate My Life to U.S.–Japan Relations

The following reflection is a guest post written by Evan Wright, an alumnus of the Reischauer Scholars Program.
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How SPICE’s China Scholars Program Accelerated My Love for International Relations

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How SPICE’s China Scholars Program Accelerated My Love for International Relations
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Subtitle: Students with a strong interest in East Asia or international relations are encouraged to apply. Applications are due October 31.

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Gary Mukai
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Stanford e-Kawasaki is an online course for high school students in Kawasaki City, Japan, that is sponsored by Kawasaki City. Launched in fall 2019, it is offered by the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE) in collaboration with Kawasaki City. SPICE is grateful to Kawasaki Mayor Norihiko Fukuda whose vision made this course possible. 


The two key themes of Stanford e-Kawasaki are entrepreneurship and diversity, and Stanford e-Kawasaki Instructor Maiko Tamagawa Bacha invites guest speakers with these themes in mind. Most guest speakers address one of the themes. However, when Victoria Tsai—a Taiwanese American entrepreneur who is the founder and CEO of Tatcha—agreed to speak, Bacha noted that she could not imagine anyone more qualified to share her insights on both themes. Tatcha was founded by Tsai to share the geisha’s wisdom with modern women everywhere, and to further the belief that true beauty begins with the heart and the mind. Launched in 2009, Tatcha is now one of the biggest skincare retailers in the United States.

While listening to Tsai’s guest lecture on February 5, 2021, Bacha and I were especially struck by her resilience, approachability and gift for empowering youth, openness to diverse perspectives, and respect for traditional culture. We both quickly realized what a great role model she is for all of the Stanford e-Kawasaki students but for the girls, in particular.

Resilience
While sharing her experiences as a young professional on Wall Street, Tsai mentioned that she was 21 and was next to the World Trade Center buildings when they were hit by a terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. She recalled, “We saw lots of people jumping and dying and then my husband got very sick and it made me question my purpose in life. And at that time, I didn’t know anything about ikigai [a Japanese concept that means “a reason for being”] but I knew that if I was going to spend the hours that I am awake working and not with my family and not playing, that I wanted my work to mean something.” After experiencing various jobs and going to business school, which “looked good on paper,” she decided to seek work with a greater purpose.

This led her to establish Tatcha. Tsai mentioned to the students that she hadn’t taken a salary at Tatcha for nine years. This prompted a student to ask about her motivation, to which Tsai replied, “When I think of my life’s purpose, I don’t expect it to be easy, but I do hope that it’s worthwhile. This work is my life’s purpose, so even when it gets hard, I just think, ‘that’s part of life.’” During the pandemic, I imagine that Tsai’s resilience really resonated among the students.

Approachability and Gift for Empowering Youth
I knew from articles about Tsai that she is a Harvard Business School graduate and an extremely successful CEO. Yet, by accepting the invitation to speak to the high school students in Kawasaki—some of whom are aspiring entrepreneurs—she demonstrated her desire to pass on her wisdom to the next generation. Prior to Tsai’s guest lecture, Bacha had sent her a list of questions that the students had written based on their reading about Tsai’s background. In her opening comments, Tsai noted, “You are much more advanced than I was. I could not compete with you.”

This comment seemed to quickly put students at ease. One of the students commented, “I think it’s wonderful that you found purpose in life and help people… A lot of young people like me and my friends feel lost in life, don’t have a dream or long-term vision of our lives, so I want to know how can we find our own purpose in life or dream.” This comment prompted Tsai to describe an activity that was devised by Harvard Business School’s Dr. Tim Butler, who has noted that as youth, they actually already have a hunch about what they want to be when they grow up, but just don’t know the specific names of the jobs. Tsai continued, “then, the problem is when you get older, you start hearing your friends, parents, and teachers saying, ‘oh, you should do that.’ And then in your head you can’t tell anymore if you really want to do something, or if you simply think you should do it because everybody else thinks you should do it.” The activity that Butler recommends is in two parts: (1) read articles that interest you, and identify patterns (specifically, areas of interest) in them; and (2) while keeping these interests in mind, write about what you envision yourself doing in ten years as you are the happiest that you have ever been—that is, completely focused and engaged. Tsai encouraged the students to try this, and some already have.

Openness to Diverse Perspectives
When a student asked Tsai about overcoming gender- and culture-related differences, she reflected upon three experiences: one on the trading floor on Wall Street and two in Kyoto with a taxi driver and geisha. Concerning her Wall Street experience, Tsai recollected, “When I first worked on Wall Street and I walked onto the trading floor, I was so scared. One, there were no women, and I couldn’t even understand what they were saying because they were speaking financial language… I remember being so intimidated. Then one year later, I could understand everything.” She came to the conclusion that “These people are not smarter than me. They’re just older, and the harder I work, the faster I can close the gap in knowledge. I have a great education, I have a decent mind, I have a very strong work ethic, I’ll just keep asking questions. So I figured it out.”

Concerning her experience with a taxi driver in Kyoto, Tsai noted that he is the one who taught her that there’s a difference between a job and a purpose. Through his actions, the driver taught her that his job is to be a driver but that his purpose is to make people happy. When he met Tsai for the first time, she was not feeling well and thus didn’t seem happy. After dropping off Tsai at her hotel, he went home to make CDs of images of Kyoto and delivered them to the hotel, thinking that the images would make her happy. They did and he felt only then that his job had been completed. Tsai reflected, “… and that just stuck with me and I did not know what omotenashi [hospitality that goes above and beyond the expectations of the person receiving the service] was back then, but then I felt it in my heart.”

Lastly, concerning her experience with geisha, who inspired Tatcha’s skincare products, Tsai noted “People in America don’t understand what a geisha is. The importance of a geisha is they were trained in a lot of the classical Japanese arts, such as dance, music, flower arrangement, and the tea ceremony. These are classical traditions that have very important meanings. I think that if you forget where you come from, then you don’t know where you are going. And so I try to hold on to tradition, because it matters. I just thought that’s a beautiful thing… I learned so much from geisha about entrepreneurship and about women’s empowerment through Japanese traditions.”

Respect for Traditional Culture
Her emphasis on Japanese traditions prompted a student to comment, “I was surprised that you made an innovation from old Japanese culture. However, there is a trend to discard old customs. So, how can we get a balance between new trends and old customs?” Tsai shared that what is so interesting about ancient civilizations like China and Japan is that “there is a lot of wisdom in this and something to learn from the past. What we try to do [at Tatcha] is to innovate within tradition, so I never tried to change the core of the tradition, because if it lasted 1000 years, there’s a very good reason for its continuity.”

What Does It Mean to Be a Global Citizen?
One very interesting part of Tsai’s presentation was to learn about Tatcha’s work with Room to Read, which seeks to transform the lives of millions of children in low-income communities in Southeast Asia and Africa by focusing on literacy and gender equality in education. A percentage of each Tatcha purchase is donated to Room To Read. Despite the enormity of some of the challenges that these youth face, Tsai noted that “they have a dream and they show up every day and they study hard and they work hard because they want that dream to come true. Nothing that I will ever face in my life will compare to what these little girls are going through, but then I think if I do my job and I don’t give up, then I can make sure thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of those girls can have a different life, and then my life meant something.” This really resonated in Bacha, who is very familiar with Room to Read as her husband works for the organization.

Reflecting upon the session, Tsai noted “I learned about the concept of sekaijin [global citizen] when studying the writings of D.T. Suzuki, and I fell in love with the idea. As people who live between cultures, we have the opportunity to share the best of both worlds to advance society and uplift individuals. It was an honor to share my story of cross-cultural entrepreneurship with the students, who were inquisitive, earnest, and wise beyond their years. I believe that Stanford’s e-Kawasaki program is helping to nurture tomorrow’s sekaijin.” When I consider the question, “What does it mean to be a global citizen?,” Tsai immediately comes to mind, and believe that Tsai’s talk really encouraged the students to aspire to become sekaijin as well.


The SPICE staff would like to express its appreciation to Tsuyoshi Inoue of Kawasaki City and Hisashi Katsurayama from the Kawasaki Board of Education for their unwavering support of Stanford e-Kawasaki.

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Announcing the Honorees of SPICE’s 2019–20 Regional Programs in Japan

Announcing the Honorees of SPICE’s 2019–20 Regional Programs in Japan
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The entrepreneur and businesswoman spoke to students about how certain key experiences in her life influenced her path.

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Naomi Funahashi
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On a recent Friday afternoon at Stanford, the weather reminded me of some crisp yet clear winter days in Japan. The sun brightly lit the Falcon Lounge on the 5th floor of Encina Hall as six alumni from the 2014 to 2018 Reischauer Scholars Program (RSP) and Sejong Korean Scholars Program (SKSP) cohorts gathered to celebrate the new year. This annual shinnenkai (literally, “new year gathering,” in Japanese) luncheon offers alumni of SPICE’s pre-collegiate online courses to meet or reconnect over lively conversation and delicious food. For the SPICE instructors, the shinnenkai is often the first time to meet alumni in person.

The RSP is an online course on Japan and U.S.–Japan relations that is offered to U.S. high school students each spring, and will welcome its seventeenth cohort in a few weeks. The SKSP is preparing for its eighth cohort, and offers an intensive online study of Korea and U.S.–Korea relations to U.S. high school students. SPICE also offers a third online course to U.S. high school students on China and U.S.–China relations, the China Scholars Program. The CSP is preparing for its sixth cohort.

One of the attendees, James Noh (RSP ‘16, Stanford University ‘22), reflected on his RSP experience following the shinnenkai: “My RSP experience not only nurtured my interest in East Asia, but also made me realize that I wanted to incorporate my interest in East Asia into both my academic and professional careers. Looking back, I think participating in RSP played an important role in influencing my decision to take a gap year to study Mandarin in China after high school and major in international relations with a focus on East Asia.” During the shinnenkai, it was interesting to hear other alumni share thoughts on how their experiences in the RSP and SKSP helped to prepare them for and also shape their college life. Comments ranged from “informing choices” like class or major selection to “honing skills” like writing research papers.

Through the many years in which SPICE has engaged U.S. high school students in these intensive online courses, we have been fortunate to work with many exceptional students such as James. As the instructor of the RSP, I especially treasure the face-to-face opportunities to meet with alumni of these courses. These opportunities are rare treats given that our courses take place entirely online. The annual shinnenkai is truly a highlight of my year.


To stay informed of SPICE-related news, join our email list and follow SPICE on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


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Applications open today for the China Scholars Program (CSP), Sejong Korean Scholars Program (SKSP), and Reischauer Scholars Program (RSP) on Japan—three intensive online courses offered by SPICE, Stanford University, to high school students across the United States. All three applications can now be viewed at https://spicestanford.smapply.io/. Interested students must submit their completed application (including an essay and letter of recommendation) by the deadlines listed below.

 

Spring 2020 Online Course Application Deadlines

China Scholars Program: October 15, 2019
Sejong Korean Scholars Program: October 15, 2019
Reischauer Scholars Program: October 15, 2019

 

All three online courses are currently accepting applications for the Spring 2020 term, which will begin in February and run through June. Designed as college-level introductions to East Asia, these academically rigorous courses present high school students the unique opportunity to engage in a guided study of China, Korea, or Japan directly with leading scholars, former diplomats, and other experts from Stanford and beyond. High school students with a strong interest in East Asia and/or international relations are especially encouraged to apply.

“Our students always come hungry to learn,” says Dr. Tanya Lee, instructor of the China Scholars Program. “The ones who choose to apply to these kinds of online courses are typically looking for an academic challenge beyond what their normal school can offer. We’re incredibly fortunate to have Stanford faculty conducting world-class research on Korea, Japan, and China willing to share their knowledge directly with our students.”

Rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors in the United States are eligible to apply to any of the three programs. Students who are interested in more than one program can apply to two or three and rank their preferences on their applications; those who are accepted into multiple programs will be invited to enroll in their highest-preference course.

For more information on a specific course, please refer to its individual webpage at chinascholars.org, sejongscholars.org, or reischauerscholars.org.

9/9/19 EDIT: Application deadlines updated. The deadlines for the SKSP and RSP were previously October 4, 2019. All three application deadlines are now October 15, 2019.


The RSP, SKSP, and CSP are SPICE’s online courses for high school students. In addition, we offer online courses for high school students in Japan (Stanford e-Japan) and China (Stanford e-China). To be notified when the next application period opens, join our email list or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


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Tanya Lee
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The Stanford China Scholars Program (CSP) is about to launch its fifth session this fall, with 20 high school students from across the country participating in the online course. The Northeast, South, Midwest, Pacific Northwest, Texas, and California are all represented in this cohort of 10th through 12th graders. Thursday evenings, these high school students will log in and join a real-time session with a scholar from Stanford or another university to discuss an aspect of contemporary China—the U.S.–China trade war, perhaps, or the legacy of the Mao era, or internet censorship and surveillance technologies in China, or China’s efforts to combat pollution and climate change. The rest of the week is filled with readings on that theme, discussed online with classmates.

The Stanford CSP’s focus on contemporary China means that the course material is constantly changing, to keep up with the ever-shifting political landscape under the leadership of Xi and Trump. It also requires the students to engage with the idea of China as not only a thoroughly modern nation but a forward-looking one, challenging the tendency to essentialize China as an ancient civilization mired in the past. Former CSP student Angela Yang (Fall 2018) credits the online course with helping her “contextualize China’s transformation as it’s happening, which is something you wouldn’t really be able to study in any other kind of course.”

Although all of the high school students are exceptionally well prepared academically, their background knowledge on China at the beginning of the online course varies considerably. Some bring strong knowledge of international issues generally, but little specific to China; some have already studied China in some depth. A few come from Chinese families, and a third to a half of the students have been studying Chinese language for several years.

Over the past year, attention has gravitated towards the U.S.–China trade war, perhaps inevitably, and its roots and possible outcomes, as well as the PRC’s ramping up of censorship and surveillance technologies, particularly in Xinjiang. Yet overall, discussions with our guest experts and among the students are fundamentally optimistic: constructive change is possible, and the United States and China have far more to gain from peace than from conflict.

The students round out the program with an independent research paper. Students’ chosen research topics in 2018–19 were as diverse as they were. Example research papers included a discussion of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea as it applies to China’s claims in the South China Sea; the mental health of rural “left-behind” children; China’s economic expansion in Africa; rock ‘n’ roll in the democracy movement of the 1980s; the international effects of China’s restrictions on imported waste for recycling; and many others. 

In synthesizing knowledge this diverse, students come to understand just how complex China and the challenges it faces are. They can no longer reduce China to simple generalizations. “The truth is that all of China’s problems aren’t just limited to numbers, statistics or graphs,” Junhee Park (CSP Spring 2018) wrote in response to a documentary film on migrant workers. “They affect everyone of us, whether we are Chinese or not.”


To be notified when the next China Scholars Program application period opens, join our email list or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

The China Scholars Program is one of several online courses for high school students offered by SPICE, Stanford University, including the Sejong Scholars Program (on Korea) and the Reischauer Scholars Program (on Japan).


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Last week, 23 educators from across North America gathered at Stanford University for the 2019 East Asia Summer Institute for High School Teachers, a teacher professional development seminar offered by SPICE in partnership with the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia. Over three days of rich content lectures, discussion, and experiential learning, institute participants deepened their background knowledge on Asia and began to rethink and revamp their curriculum plans for the coming school year.

This year’s participants came from as far away as Concord, New Hampshire and Vancouver, Canada, although most attendees were high school teachers in the San Francisco Bay Area. They represented a wide range of teaching subjects, from history and language arts to statistics and genocide studies, but all sought to strengthen their teaching through a clearer, more nuanced understanding of Asia, U.S.–Asia relations, and the Asian American experience—the three main areas explored in this year’s summer institute.

Participant Hellie Mateo at the 2019 East Asia Summer Institute for High School Teachers
Participant Hellie Mateo poses with a book she made by hand using traditional Japanese book-binding methods.
The institute’s guest speakers came from similarly diverse backgrounds, being scholars, artists, authors, and Stanford University professors with expertise on a specific aspect of Asia, U.S.–Asia relations, or the Asian American experience. Interwoven between their captivating content lectures were classroom-focused lesson demonstrations, hands-on activities, and pedagogy discussions facilitated by SPICE curriculum designers. “We make sure we balance subject-matter content with practical application in all of our teacher professional development seminars,” notes SPICE Director Dr. Gary Mukai. “That’s why we focus so much time and energy on pedagogy and lesson demonstrations. We want to help high school teachers translate their newfound knowledge directly into the classroom.”

To that end, summer institute participants each receive several free books, films, and SPICE lesson plans to help them bring Asia alive for their students. They also receive a stipend and become eligible for three optional units of credit from Stanford Continuing Studies.

“Being in the Bay Area—and particularly at Stanford University—we have access to such incredible experts on these subjects,” says institute coordinator and facilitator Naomi Funahashi. “Our job is to connect those experts with teachers in a way that supports teacher needs. That’s our goal for this summer institute.”

Although the high school teachers have now returned home from Stanford campus, their work is not done. They will now use the content they learned at the summer institute to create original lesson plans to incorporate into their own practice. When they reconvene for a final online session in late July / early August, they will share their lesson plans with each other, and each teacher will walk away with 22 brand new lesson plans designed by their colleagues. “We can’t wait to see what kinds of innovative lessons our teachers will come up with!” says Funahashi. “And we can’t wait to see how they incorporate these new lessons into their plans for the next school year.”

To view photos from the summer institute and read a more comprehensive recap what happened, please see the SPICE Facebook page.


In addition to our high school institute, in most years SPICE also offers the East Asia Summer Institute for Middle School Teachers. To be notified when the next middle school and/or high school institute application period opens, join our email list or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


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From atomic bombs to harsh military occupations in the World War II period, the past is very much the present in the Asia Pacific region.

Stanford scholars are striving to help heal these wounds from yesteryear. Helping old enemies better understand each other today is the aim of the Divided Memories and Reconciliation project, a multi-year comparative study of the formation of historical memory regarding the wartime period in countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States.

Left unattended, misguided wartime narratives may exacerbate current disputes to the point of armed conflict, said Daniel Sneider, associate director of research at Stanford's Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center. He leads the Divided Memories project along with Gi-Wook Shin, a Stanford sociology professor and the Shorenstein center director.

Sneider points out the critical importance of textbooks and what is taught in schools – especially given the rise of nationalism among youth in China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.

"Dialogue among youth of the different nations is needed, along with an appreciation for the diversity of views and the complexity of history," he said.

Shin said, "Each nation in northeast Asia and even the U.S. has selective or divided memories of the past, and does not really understand the views of the other side."

Education and history

Launched in 2006, the Divided Memories project has published research findings, issued recommendations and convened conferences. In the early days, the researchers examined high school history textbooks in China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and America.

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The outcome was the project's first book in 2011, History Textbooks and the Wars in Asia: Divided Memories, which suggests that an "introspective effort" to understand national narratives about WWII has the potential to bring about historical reconciliation in the region. Sneider describes it as the first comparative study of textbooks in the countries involved; it soon evolved into a classroom supplemental textbook published by the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education.

"Formal education is a powerful force in shaping our historical understandings," Sneider noted. "We wanted to look at the textbooks that have the most impact and usage."

A 2014 book, Confronting Memories of World War II: European and Asian Legacies, which was co-edited by Shin, Sneider and Daniel Chirot, a sociologist with the University of Washington, compared successful European WWII reconciliations with lagging Asian efforts. Another book, Divided Lenses, published earlier this year, examined the impact of dramatic film and other forms of popular culture on wartime memory. A new book is due out this summer, Divergent Memories: Opinion Leaders and the Asia-Pacific War, which focuses on leaders in politics, the media and academia in Japan, China, South Korea and the U.S.

The Divided Memories project aims to generate discussions and collaborations among those who create "historical memories" – educators, policymakers and government leaders. One report that grew out of such dialogues included suggestions for reconciliation:

  • Create supplementary teaching materials on the issue. 
  • Launch dialogues among Asian, American and European historians. 
  • Offer educational forums for journalists, policymakers and students. 
  • Conduct museum exchanges and create new museums, such as one wholly dedicated to WWII reconciliation in Asia. 
  • Increase student exchanges among all the countries involved. 

History is reflected in today's geopolitics, as noted in the revived disputes by these nations over rival claims to islands in the South China Sea and elsewhere. Without resolution, these disagreements can flare up into military conflicts, Sneider wrote.

"The question of history taps into sensitive and deeply rooted issues of national identity," he noted.

Whether recounting Japanese atrocities in China, China's exaggerated account of its Communist fighters' role in World War II, or the U.S. decision to drop atomic bombs on Japan, no nation is immune to re-creating the past to further its own interests today, Sneider wrote.

For example, Divided Memories research on Chinese textbooks shows how the Chinese government in recent decades embarked on a "patriotic education" campaign to indoctrinate young people by exaggerating its role in Japan's WWII defeat. This narrative suits the nationalistic desires of a Chinese government no longer exclusively motivated by communist ideology, Sneider said.

One project of APARC and its Japan Program that was also an outgrowth of Divided Memories involved Stanford scholars urging Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to show "clear, heartfelt remorse" in a 2015 speech on the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII. A 15-page report featured hypothetical statements suggesting what Abe might say to make amends for Japanese actions in China and Korea.

"While we cannot claim to have directly influenced the prime minister, his statement did go further in the direction of an expression of remorse over the war and the need to continue to look clearly and honestly at the past than many expected," said Sneider.


 

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A workshop on history textbooks co-hosted by Shorenstein APARC and Academia Sinica's Center for Asia-Pacific Area Studies takes places in Taipei, Sept. 3, 2008.


Generations and grievances

Consciousness-raising on other fronts, however, is getting results, thanks to Stanford's Divided Memories project. A 2015 landmark agreement between Japan and South Korea over the WWII "comfort women" dispute was reached due to extensive U.S. involvement. Comfort women were women and girls who were forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army in occupied territories before and during World War II.

In an article, Sneider explained how the U.S. perceived that the dysfunctional relationship between South Korea and Japan over this issue, among others, threatened to undermine American strategic interests in Asia. 

Shin highlights the importance of U.S. involvement. "The U.S. is not just an outsider to historical and territorial disputes in the region," he said. "From a geopolitical perspective, the U.S. has done a wonderful job in reviving the devastated region into a prosperous one after 1945, but from a historical reconciliation perspective, the U.S. has done a poor job."

He suggests that America should "play a constructive role in promoting historical reconciliation" among the countries involved. And so, the Divided Memories project has included the United States in its efforts.

According to Sneider, Divided Memories is unique among all reconciliation projects for its emphasis on the inclusion of the U.S.; comparative analyses across countries; and real-world policy impacts. As part of the Shorenstein research center, it is housed within Stanford's Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.

"This project reflects what Stanford, our center and the Freeman Spogli Institute are all about – true interdisciplinary research and engagement," Sneider said.

Clifton Parker is a writer for the Stanford News Service.

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SPICE staff members Naomi Funahashi, Rylan Sekiguchi, and Johanna Wee participated in the European Council of Independent Schools (ECIS) Annual Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, from November 18 to 20, 2011. One of the teacher seminars that SPICE offered was titled “Divided Memories: Teaching about Bias and Perspective.” Sekiguchi and Funahashi introduced the important concepts of bias and perspective by engaging over 40 teachers from throughout Europe and Central Asia in an examination of textbooks from five Pacific Rim societies: China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the United States. The seminar was based on the SPICE curriculum unit, Divided Memories: Comparing History Textbooks, which was developed by Sekiguchi in 2009.

Funahashi and Sekiguchi facilitated a provocative discussion around the notion that because the past continues to influence the present, and because our sense of history helps shape our perception of the world, debates over how history is taught in schools can become extremely controversial and political. History textbooks, too, have become arguably the most politically scrutinized component of modern education. In part, this is because school textbooks provide an opportunity for a society to record or endorse the “correct” version of history and to build a shared memory of history among its populace. In small groups, teachers had the opportunity to first consider newspaper headlines that describe the same event in very different ways, and second to critically examine sample excerpts from five textbooks and consider the questions: How do textbooks from different societies treat such episodes? Do they present similar or dissimilar interpretations of history?

Wee, who staffed a SPICE booth at ECIS, has noted that SPICE’s participation in international conferences like ECIS has significantly increased the dissemination of SPICE curricula to countries that have not historically been reached by SPICE. Lastly, the successful ECIS seminar has prompted discussions about the possible creation of another “divided memories”-type curriculum unit with a focus on how various European textbooks depict particular episodes in world history. 


Divided Memories: Comparing History Textbooks was part of a broader “Divided Memories: Advancing Reconciliation in Northeast Asia” project of the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, FSI. Professor Gi-Wook Shin, Director, Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, served as the principal investigator for the project. The primary funding for the curriculum unit was generously provided by the United States-Japan Foundation, New York, NY. The Northeast Asia History Foundation, Seoul, supported the broader “Divided Memories” project. 

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Irene Bryant is the Instructor for the Stanford e-Entrepreneurship Japan course at the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE). 

Prior to joining SPICE, she worked as Assistant Director for Stanford’s US-Asia Technology Management Center (US-ATMC), as well as Program Administrator for the China Program at Stanford’s Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center. She has experience working in human resources, venture capital, as well as in Montessori. She was also a Coordinator for International Relations in Sendai, Japan, on the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme.

Irene received a BA in East Asian Languages and Literatures from Smith College, as well as an MA in Japanese Studies from SOAS University of London. A San Francisco native, she has also lived in Taiwan, Japan, and the UK.

Instructor, Stanford e-Entrepreneurship Japan
Curriculum Writer
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