International Development
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Kana Yoshioka
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The following is a guest article written by Kana Yoshioka, PhD student at the University of Tokyo. Yoshioka enrolled in a course at the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Education called “Introduction to International and Cross-Cultural Education,” which was co-taught by SPICE Director Dr. Gary Mukai and former CASEER Director Dr. Hideto Fukudome. SPICE will feature several student reflections on the course in 2023.

I am a first-year doctoral student at the University of Tokyo studying Japanese higher education. I took “Introduction to International and Cross-Cultural Education” offered in fall 2022. We discussed important topics such as teacher professional development, multiple intelligences, and culturally relevant curriculum. In addition to offering lectures, SPICE Director Gary Mukai also invited several guest speakers to our class. One of the most impressive lectures was by Kathryn Tolbert, who spoke about a documentary film called Fall Seven Times, Get Up Eight: The Japanese War Brides, which she co-directed with Lucy Craft and Karen Kasmauski.

The term “Japanese war brides” is defined as the women who married American soldiers and immigrated to the United States after World War Ⅱ. More than 45,000 Japanese brides went to the United States during the 1950s and early 1960s; however, such history, including Japanese immigration history to the United States, is rarely taught in Japanese schools. There is only a brief introduction to the history of Japanese immigrants to Brazil in junior high school history classes and geography textbooks. Naturally enough, I had never learned anything about the history of “Japanese war brides” in school. However, I believe that studying the history of immigration is important and should be taught in schools to broaden students’ perspectives and have them grasp the diversity of the world.

This course gave me a precious opportunity to rethink schools in Japan.

Therefore, as part of my coursework in “Introduction to International and Cross-Cultural Education,” I decided to develop a lesson plan on Japanese war brides for Japanese junior high school history classes. I began by reviewing the descriptions of Japanese immigration in as many Japanese junior high school history and geography textbooks as possible. In addition, I viewed Japanese War Brides: An Oral History Archive, collected by Kathryn Tolbert, and reviewed serialized newspaper articles from 1987 about Japanese war brides in order to help determine which oral histories might capture students’ interest. From those many stories, I chose two stories to recommend to Japanese junior high schools. The first included a reference to the atomic bombing in Hiroshima, and the second included the topic of racism in the United States. I thought that these two stories would be important because I feel that it is important for students to grasp the journey of Japanese women within the larger historical context of World War II and the post-war period.

In one class period, my lesson can help to familiarize students with what happened to the Japanese war brides. Also, I suggest that teachers pose the following fundamental questions to their students.

  • What did you learn about the Japanese war brides in the United States?
  • How do you feel about the stories?
  • Do you have any relatives who immigrated to another country?
     

I recommend the “Think-Pair-Share” pedagogical strategy as a useful way for having the students think about these questions. First, students think about the questions for a few minutes, and then in pairs, share their opinions with one another. I also recommend the third question, “Do you have any relatives who immigrated to another country?,” as homework since it is important for each student to discuss the topic with his/her family.

This course gave me a precious opportunity to rethink schools in Japan. I strongly felt that we should study more about the history of immigrants like “Japanese war brides.”

Reference:
Sirouzu, T., & Eguchi, Y. (1987, January 3 - February 15). “Kokusai Kekkon America no Sensō Hanayometachi” [International Marriage: Japanese war brides in the United States]. A morning edition of the Yomiuri Shimbun, Tokyo.

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Reflections on Culturally Relevant Curriculum and Identity

A SPICE/CASEER Graduate School of Education course at the University of Tokyo was offered in fall 2022.
Reflections on Culturally Relevant Curriculum and Identity
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Reflections on the SPICE and the Center for Advanced School Education & Evidence-Based Research (CASEER) course that was offered at the University of Tokyo in fall 2022.

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Yuting Luo
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The following is a guest article written by Yuting Luo, graduate student at the University of Tokyo. Luo enrolled in a course at the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Education called “Introduction to International and Cross-Cultural Education,” which was co-taught by SPICE Director Dr. Gary Mukai and former CASEER Director Dr. Hideto Fukudome. SPICE will feature several student reflections on the course in 2023.

Can you imagine hearing for the first time that your ancestors had contributed significantly to another country’s development? For me, as a native of China who lived in the country for more than 20 years and now as a student in Japan, it was a unique cultural experience to hear from Gary Mukai about Chinese immigration to the United States and their significant contributions to the United States.

I never imagined that my ancestors had worked in the United States as railroad workers on the Transcontinental Railroad. It was a history I had never learned from a Chinese textbook. The following words from Mukai impressed me the most: “I think that the history of Chinese railroad workers and their contribution to the United States should be known more widely not only in the United States but also in China.”

In the first class of “Introduction to International and Cross-Cultural Education,” Mukai introduced the topic of “culturally relevant curriculum” and I realized that culturally relevant curriculum for Chinese Americans can help to create emotional connections between them and their ancestral homeland, China. Similarly, I began to think about the relationship between Japan and China, and have since thought of this question: In order to help build a more amicable relationship between the two countries, what types of culturally relevant curriculum could be offered to Chinese studying in Japan and Japanese studying in China?

While learning history in one’s own country is crucial, it is also important to see one’s own country through other countries’ lenses.

I was born and raised in Shenzhen, China, in the 1990s. My beautiful hometown, Shenzhen, benefited from the Reform and Opening-Up Policy and developed rapidly. Due to the location of Shenzhen, which connects mainland China with Hong Kong, more and more Japanese companies began to establish themselves in this city in order to access low-cost labor. Yet, despite this social context, it was not until I entered junior high school that I began to directly learn about Japan. Unfortunately, the only means I had to learn about Japan was from my history teacher.

After entering high school, my encounter with Japanese literature, including Musashi: An Epic Novel of the Samurai Era, led me to develop a positive interest in the country of Japan. Later, wanting to read original books on my own, I enrolled in the Japanese language department of Shenzhen University. I worked hard on my Japanese language studies and learned more about Japan through the Japanese language. The more I studied Japanese and learned about Japan objectively, the more I fell in love with Japanese culture. Of course, I love my country, China, too. I began to feel some connection to Japanese identity inside of me, and I realized that I could feel some empathy for the Japanese. It wasn’t immediately clear what this empathetic connection was specifically. However, I could only say that Japanese literature prompted me to feel a connection to Japanese identity, even though I am not Japanese.

I sometimes feel uncomfortable with this connection and sometimes wonder how I would feel if I had been introduced to curriculum in secondary schools that introduced the fluidity of identity and also the importance of considering diverse perspectives. While learning history in one’s own country is crucial, it is also important to see one’s own country through other countries’ lenses. In particular, a historical perspective that respects mutual recognition may improve one’s self-esteem and world outlook. Moreover, from a broader perspective, recognizing each other’s contributions can also lead to a more comprehensive understanding of the world. From my perspective, one’s identity cannot be fixed merely based on the place of birth or one’s skin color. In an increasingly global and diverse world, one’s identity is becoming more fluid and constantly switching, and will keep switching.

As Immanuel Kant mentioned in Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics, “It is never too late to become reasonable and wise; but if the knowledge comes late, there is always more difficulty in starting a reform.” Likewise, it is never too late for me to be more inclusive and wiser. Therefore, I will continue contributing to a more diverse and inclusive world by studying international comparative education.

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Reflections on the SPICE/CASEER Course at the University of Tokyo

SPICE and the Center for Advanced School Education & Evidence-Based Research (CASEER) at the University of Tokyo offered a fall 2022 Graduate School of Education course.
Reflections on the SPICE/CASEER Course at the University of Tokyo
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A SPICE/CASEER Graduate School of Education course at the University of Tokyo was offered in fall 2022.

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Alison Keiko Harsch
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Launched in summer 2022, Stanford e-Sendai Ikuei is a collaborative course between the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE) and Sendai Ikuei Gakuen High School. The program offers Sendai Ikuei Gakuen High School students the opportunity to develop their English and critical thinking skills while examining their roles on a global scale. Stanford e-Sendai Ikuei is one of SPICE’s local student programs in Japan.

On October 28, I had the privilege of travelling to Sendai, Japan to attend the closing ceremony for the 2022 inaugural class of Stanford e-Sendai Ikuei. The trip was a precious opportunity to meet the students in-person for the first time, after five months of learning together over Zoom. While there, I considered the educational journey the students had taken that led up to this moment of accomplishment.

Stanford e-Sendai Ikuei was designed to challenge students to examine the world from new perspectives as they consider their own role on the global stage. To this end, the class was structured into three main topics: diversity, global citizenship, and entrepreneurship.

For the first topic, students examined diversity through the framework of the United States’ history of immigration and richly diverse population. Guided by guest speakers, the class engaged in thoughtful conversations on why stereotypes take root and how biases grow through systemic oppression. Students analyzed the work done by change makers and activists in the pursuit of inclusion and equity. Finally, students were able to reflect on the concept of identity and contemplate what their unique perspectives bring to the table.

In the second section of the program, students applied their self-reflections and understanding of diversity to discussions on what it means to be a global citizen. Lessons focused on establishing a general understanding of global issues and international collaboration and encouraged students to consider the global issues they hold important. Invited guest speakers generously shared their personal journeys of finding their passions to exemplify how the students might engage with global issues on a local and grassroots scale.

Hearing the inaugural class’s conviction and sense of growth, I am grateful to have been a part of their education as young leaders, and I look forward to seeing where their curiosity takes them next.

After feeling a bit overwhelmed by the weight of the world, students were eager to understand how to make these problems approachable. In our final unit on entrepreneurship, the class explored how Silicon Valley entrepreneurs applied a growth mindset—which normalizes and embraces failure to achieve success—to stay innovative and reach for new solutions. Students practiced their own innovation skills through Design Thinking and learned how to collaborate as a team to create stronger ideas. Lastly, the students considered how to take care of their mental health and well-being as they pursue their goals through practicing mindfulness and finding supports.

The program culminated in a final research project where students had the opportunity to take a turn in the instructor’s seat and teach the class about the issues that sparked their passion and curiosity. With a 3–5 minute presentation written and delivered in English, students challenged themselves to apply the communication skills, analysis, and self-reflection they had practiced throughout the course. They rose to the challenge with determination and compassion.

During the in-person closing ceremony, students came up one by one to share their reflections and lessons learned. Many of their statements echoed a similar tune—a confession of a nervous and intimidated mindset at the outset of the program, a desire to push themselves in order to broaden their skills and perspectives, and a goal to continue their learning journeys with empathy as their guide. Hearing the inaugural class’s conviction and sense of growth, I am grateful to have been a part of their education as young leaders, and I look forward to seeing where their curiosity takes them next.

I am enormously grateful to all of the Stanford e-Sendai Ikuei guest speakers for their shared knowledge, experience, and mentorship:

  • Esther Priscilla Ebuehi, Birth Equity Analyst, Cherished Futures for Black Moms & Babies
  • Kenji Harsch, Associate Clinical Social Worker, Fred Finch Youth & Family Services
  • Makiko Hirata, Professional Pianist and SPICE Instructor
  • Rebecca Jennison, Professor, Kyoto Seika University
  • Sukemasa Kabeyama, Co-Founder and CEO, Uplift Labs
  • Gary Mukai, Director, SPICE
  • Jennifer Teeter, Lecturer, Kyoto Seika University
  • Samanta Vásquez, Social Worker, Office of Refugee Resettlement
  • Sam Yee, Senior Program Coordinator, GPI US, and the GPI US Design Team
     

I would like to give a special thank you to Principal Takehiko Katoh, the Sendai Ikuei Gakuen High School staff, and my partner coordinator at Sendai Ikuei Gakuen Rina Imagawa for their endless support and assistance to make this course possible.

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Stanford e-Sendai Ikuei introduces students to the topics of diversity, global citizenship, and entrepreneurship.

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Elizabeth Plasencia
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The following is a guest article written by Elizabeth Plasencia, graduate student at UCLA who studied at the University of Tokyo in fall 2022. Plasencia enrolled in a course at the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Education called “Introduction to International and Cross-Cultural Education,” which was co-taught by SPICE Director Dr. Gary Mukai and former CASEER Director Dr. Hideto Fukudome. SPICE will feature several student reflections on the course in 2023.

I am a second-year Master of Public Policy student at UCLA and studied abroad at the University of Tokyo during fall semester 2022 as an exchange student. I was born in Jalostotitlán, Jalisco, Mexico and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. Since my admission to UCLA, I wanted to gain a global perspective during my graduate studies. I decided to challenge myself both culturally and intellectually while embracing a spectrum of commerce, creativity, and community in Japan—beyond the fabric of red, white, and blue.

As part of my research in policy studies, I decided to enroll in the SPICE-CASEER course, “Introduction to International and Cross-Cultural Education,” specifically to learn about educational policy, especially in the areas of ethnic studies and the multi-dimensional purposes of critical pedagogies in the classroom. The SPICE-CASEER course expanded my learning experience through the lens of my classmates’ perspectives, which greatly helped to broaden my interest and appreciation in educational policy and advocacy for educational equity. In addition, for my course research project, I decided not to limit my coursework and research to one specific policy interest. Since my broad interest lies at the intersection of ethnic studies, immigration, and education policy, I decided to explore this intersection through students at the University of Tokyo. I became culturally aware of students’ academic journeys through social and economic factors in their home countries. These stories were derived from interviews of students from Japan, China, Singapore, Mexico, Ecuador, Iran, India, and Saudi Arabia who represented a broad range of disciplines including engineering, education, and policy studies.

Reflecting on my life and the SPICE-CASEER course, I have come to realize that the fabric of diversity and inclusion starts in the classroom and translates into the workplace and that this fabric is shaped by culture.

Understanding global citizenship is the starting point needed to sharpen one’s toolbox to prepare for the workforce, and taking courses such as this one allowed me the opportunity to study at a research institution such as the University of Tokyo as an international policy novice.

My experiences abroad allowed me to experience a transformative journey of personal development; become flexible and adaptable; witness identities transcend into classrooms from all corners of the world; and embrace a multi-dimensional perspective within policy studies. I learned that public policy reaches a different level of sophistication when pertaining to societal goals and global citizenship through policy makers, researchers, teachers, and students.

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SPICE and the Center for Advanced School Education & Evidence-Based Research (CASEER) at the University of Tokyo offered a fall 2022 Graduate School of Education course.

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Yoyo Chang
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Stanford e-China endowed me with a lifelong thinking-into-action mindset—Design Thinking. Over the ten weeks of the course, Stanford e-China (SeC) exposed our class of students to cutting-edge technologies touching many corners of global society: health tech, green tech, finance tech, artificial intelligence, and on and on. Sitting in front of our small display screens, we travelled miles and miles from different Chinese cities to meet at the door of Silicon Valley. Along this academically rigorous journey, the Design Thinking mindset braced our flight. At the same time, a spirit of collaboration pushed us further and higher, aided by the inspiring, personal stories of experts in various tech fields.

From friendly classmates to amiable instructors to prestigious professors, every individual in our SeC family was full of friendliness and insight, the key to the unceasing flow of energy that perpetuated the whole course. The program’s encouraging theme accentuated the spirit of “coopetition” between the world’s two tech giants: the United States and China. The reading materials that instructor Carey Moncaster helpfully provided strengthened my global awareness, delving into interesting U.S.–China “coopetitive” innovations in, for example, industrial (semiconductor chains) and green (renewable energy resources) technologies.

Another memorable takeaway was the spirit of the whole cohort. The class never ran out of questions and discussions. Each student being intellectually curious, we hit on meaningful questions that unveiled greater nuances about the topics; our patient and enthusiastic instructors and professors always provided rich explanations, juicing up the content with animated examples and demonstrations. Every one of us, students and teachers, was sincere and passionate about sharing personal perspectives and learning from each other. Without a doubt, the learning atmosphere of SeC boosted my confidence and engagement in academic discussions and highlighted the value of a cooperative, communicative classroom.

As a young girl who sometimes becomes directionless about the vast future waiting ahead, Design Thinking empowers me with confidence and control over my life.

Yet another high spot of the program was the exciting collaboration between our cohort and students from another course, the China Scholars Program (CSP). Before the collaboration session, it was intriguing to learn how Stanford supported students across the United States to probe into the Chinese cultural, social, and political contexts. Distanced miles apart over the Pacific Ocean, it was a golden opportunity for us, both American and Chinese students, to work together, cross-culturally, on the global issue of environmental sustainability. Despite the significant cultural gaps, it was inspirational and warming to find existing bonds among us: we have the unanimous aim as global citizens to protect Mother Planet and promote a spirit of collaboration. In fact, the clashes and exchanges of perspectives resulting from our social and cultural gaps fruitfully added to the diversity and progression of our ideas.

It was remarkable to see the universality of Design Thinking through the collaboration. On the one hand, the SeC cohort systematically studied and applied the different steps of Design Thinking, specifically in the scope of technological innovations. On the other hand, the CSP students closely examined the contemporary Chinese contexts, making it easy for American students to empathize with the Chinese group. Together, we devised different sustainable legislations and products, for example, pipe filter masks to reduce vehicle exhaust and fintech applications to manage crowds of people at recreation sites. The experience itself magnified the power and significance of empathy, an essential step of Design Thinking, in every problem’s solution.

At the end of the course, it was an honor that my final StressOFF project (which aims to reduce Chinese teenagers’ academic stress through a virtual assistant application) got acknowledged and helped identify me as one of the course’s honorees! The journey did not end there. Genuinely concerned about Chinese high school students’ academic anxiety, I assembled a couple of schoolmates who were also interested in the topic. Together, we entered and won a neuroscience business pitching competition with our PANHUG business proposal, a hugging machine product with multi-dimensional soothing functions. But the greater importance of Design Thinking came to me later.

Near the end of the course, Ms. Moncaster brought us the book Designing Your Life, by two Stanford professors, which added a new dimension to my understanding of the Design Thinking mindset. Design Thinking can be applied to more than technological innovations or the launching of business projects. It relates to undergraduate majors, work opportunities, health routines, and relationship management. Just as technological innovations integrate into every corner of society, Design Thinking lives in every corner of life. It was such a blessing for me to join Stanford e-China and plant a Design Thinking seed.

Design Thinking is the compass of life. It is a lifelong, human-centered mindset. As a young girl who sometimes becomes directionless about the vast future waiting ahead, Design Thinking empowers me with confidence and control over my life. It pushes me to actively feel and think, empathizing and formulating what I sincerely want to pursue. Design Thinking impels us to act.

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The following article is a guest post written by Yoyo Chang, an alumna and honoree of the Spring 2021 Stanford e-China Program. Currently, Yoyo is a junior at Shenzhen College of International Education in China.

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Gary Mukai
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In 2019 at the suggestion and with the support of Hiroshima Prefectural Governor Hidehiko Yuzaki, SPICE launched the Stanford-Hiroshima Collaborative Program on Entrepreneurship (SHCPE), an online course for MBA students that was conceptualized in consultation with the Hiroshima Business and Management School at the Prefectural University of Hiroshima. Yuzaki is an MBA graduate of Stanford Graduate School of Business and has been unwavering in his commitment to encouraging collaboration between Hiroshima Prefecture and Stanford University.

During the week of November 14, 2022, SHCPE Instructors Mariko Yang-Yoshihara and Meiko Kotani welcomed HBMS faculty members Yasuo Tsuchimoto and Narumi Yoshikawa and SHCPE alumni and students to Stanford University. Among the many activities of the week, Yang-Yoshihara and Kotani organized a session that focused on “Comparing the Entrepreneurial Mindset in the U.S. and Japan” that featured student Kai Kaplinsky and comments from Japanese business leaders Toshiko Tassone, Tatsuki Tomita, and Maki Kaplinsky; and a lecture on “Regenerative Medicine for Heart Failure” by cardiologist faculty member Phillip Yang, Stanford University School of Medicine. Also, Tsuchimoto and Yoshikawa organized tours to Google and Cisco and a talk with Japanese entrepreneur Shun Maki.

In addition to Silicon Valley-focused sessions and tours, I led a session called “Before Silicon Valley” that focused on early Japanese immigrants and their contributions to agriculture in Santa Clara County as a way to provide some historical context for the visitors’ understanding of what is now known as Silicon Valley. My grandparents, who were immigrants to the United States from Hiroshima, were migrant farmworkers and sharecroppers in Santa Clara County as well as in many other counties in California before and after World War II.

In all of the years that I have been a part of Japanese visits to the greater Bay Area, I have never accompanied visitors to a farm as a way to provide an appreciation for the historical context of what is now known as Silicon Valley.

Yang-Yoshihara and Kotani decided to provide the students and alumni a glimpse into what such contributions to agriculture were like by arranging a visit to Hikari Farms in Watsonville, California. Hikari Farms is an organic greenhouse business that specializes in Asian vegetables. The students were treated to a lecture by Janet Nagamine of Hikari Farms. Janet, who concurrently works as a medical doctor, informed the students and alumni that her father Akira came to the United States in 1956 with only $24.32. He eventually founded A. Nagamine Nursery, which specialized in flowers in 1967, in Watsonville. With the decline of the flower industry in the United States, Akira began to grow vegetables. Janet explained that the recently renamed Hikari Farms is a way for her to connect with her Japanese heritage and to also honor her parents’ decades-long dedication to farming.

During her lecture, Janet explained that she sells not only organic vegetables but also a philosophy about the positive health effects of consuming organic foods. With a father and mother who are 97 and 101 respectively, and the fact that Janet is a medical doctor, her philosophy seemed to resonate among the students and alumni.

In their closing reflections at the end of the week, several of the students and alumni expressed gratitude for the visit to Hikari Farms and to the Nagamines. In all of the years that I have been a part of Japanese visits to the greater Bay Area, I have never accompanied visitors to a farm as a way to provide an appreciation for the historical context of what is now known as Silicon Valley. I am also grateful to the Nagamines as the tour of their farm was like a journey back to my childhood as an agricultural worker.

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Students and alumni of HBMS visit Stanford, Silicon Valley, and Hikari Farms.

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Hideto Fukudome
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The following is a guest article written by Professor Hideto Fukudome, Graduate School of Education, the University of Tokyo. Fukudome was also the Director of the Center for Advanced School Education & Evidence-Based Research (CASEER) at the Graduate School of Education until March 2022.

I invited Dr. Gary Mukai, SPICE Director, to the University of Tokyo as an invitational fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). JSPS accepted our collaborative research plan, “Enhancement of U.S.–Japan Cultural Exchange Based on International and Cross-Cultural Education” and Gary stayed at the University of Tokyo from late September to mid-November 2022.

CASEER has been working with SPICE since the fall of 2021 to promote research exchange through the “SPICE/Stanford-UTokyo Partnership Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education and Global Citizenship.” During the Autumn 2022 semester, Gary and I taught a course at the Graduate School of Education called “Introduction to International and Cross-Cultural Education.” These are great learning opportunities for UTokyo students and for me as well.

I enjoyed spending time with Gary daily and learning many things from him. I am a higher education scholar and have studied American colleges and universities from a comparative and historical perspectives. American universities are unique in many ways. In particular, the diversity of missions and objectives of higher education institutions and the corresponding diversity of educational offerings and approaches can provide tremendous insight into American higher education. On the other hand, I also understand that diversity in the United States involves complicated issues that are closely related to the history of the country’s origins and its challenging social problems. The United States has a social structure that requires people to respect diversity at all times. However, despite the complex issues, I can say without a doubt that respect for diversity has shaped the vitality of the United States as a country and of American higher learning.

 

Diversity is multidimensional, and a comprehensive understanding of diversity is not straightforward. However, there is no doubt that a willingness to focus on and consider diversity will help us to be more flexible and cultivate a multifaceted perspective.

I studied in the United States for the first time in 1999. One of the things that impressed me the most was that consideration for people with disabilities was widespread in universities and every corner of society. More than 20 years have passed since then, and I believe that what diversity means in the United States has changed dramatically. In Japan, until recently, people scarcely mentioned the word “diversity” in society. Many Japanese have perceived Japan as a monolithic country in terms of language, culture, and so on, though this is not valid. Japanese society is undoubtedly becoming more diverse. At the same time, there has been a growing awareness, albeit belatedly, that diversity, which people should have taken into consideration, has been largely overlooked in the mindset of Japanese people.

The University of Tokyo is considered the most competitive university in Japan in terms of admission. Many students come from elite private high schools in metropolitan areas. There has been little diversity in the composition of students and faculty. One of the serious issues is that the percentage of female undergraduates has only recently exceeded 20 percent. This situation is surprising given the current state of universities around the world. However, for a long time in Japan, women were not required to have high academic credentials, and various “cooling” functions were in place before they got into college.

However, the University of Tokyo has recently begun a serious effort to increase diversity and inclusion. I believe this move is significant for the future of Japanese universities and society. The School of Education is also working to promote this movement. For many years, Japanese education has focused on academic achievement in a narrow sense as an indicator for evaluating students. However, I have come to realize that by looking at the diversity of human beings, we can capture a wide range of individual characteristics. Among other things, I have come to understand this since I met Gary several years ago, and we have discussed many things. Through stories grounded in Gary’s upbringing as a third-generation Japanese American and the interactions with SPICE people, I have developed a greater appreciation for cultural diversity.

Diversity is multidimensional, and a comprehensive understanding of diversity is not straightforward. However, there is no doubt that a willingness to focus on and consider diversity will help us to be more flexible and cultivate a multifaceted perspective. In this sense, I believe applying and extending what I have learned in our classes with Gary to my teaching and research is essential.

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Professor Yujin Yaguchi in front of the main library at University of Tokyo
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Professor Yujin Yaguchi, University of Tokyo, Offers Lecture on Pearl Harbor for Stanford e-Japan

Professor Yujin Yaguchi introduced diverse perspectives on Pearl Harbor to 27 high school students in Stanford e-Japan.
Professor Yujin Yaguchi, University of Tokyo, Offers Lecture on Pearl Harbor for Stanford e-Japan
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A Gateway to Collaboration: SPICE/Stanford and CASEER/University of Tokyo

The SPICE/Stanford–CASEER/UTokyo Lecture Series provides a platform to share current educational research and practice.
A Gateway to Collaboration: SPICE/Stanford and CASEER/University of Tokyo
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Stanford e-Japan: A Turning Point in My Life

The following reflection is a guest post written by Hikaru Suzuki, a 2015 alumna and honoree of the Stanford e-Japan Program, which is currently accepting applications for Spring 2021.
Stanford e-Japan: A Turning Point in My Life
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Collaboration between the Graduate School of Education, the University of Tokyo and SPICE/Stanford offers opportunities to discuss education and diversity.

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Noah Kurima
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I feel it on my 3-minute walk to campus. At times, it is subtle; the quiet yet furious pace of students late for classes in Building 11. At times, it is pretentious; the Shinjuku laughter of the working men and women in their blue suits, escaping their offices for a night of ramen, beer, and karaoke. It is the pulse of the greatest city on Earth. It is the beat of life that I now see, feel, and hear every day in the heart of Tokyo as a freshman at Waseda University.

Where I grew up, there was a beach. My friends and I often spent time there, especially when the pandemic hit Southern California. It was our getaway from the outside world, a sanctuary of calm instilled by the rolling of waves and the bobbing of dolphins. But it was also a haven to find inspiration in the unrelenting freedom of the seabirds, simple creatures finding the courage to spread their wings and trust in the fortunes of the winds to soar above us all.

Driven by this inspiration, I applied to the Reischauer Scholars Program (RSP), knowing the improbability of being accepted into a competitive program at Stanford University. I did not have perfect grades nor the brand name of a famous high school. What I did have was the courage to spread my wings and trust in the fortunes of the winds. I had a story to tell, and unbelievably, RSP Instructor Naomi Funahashi chose to listen.

By far, RSP was my favorite class during high school. I cannot clearly articulate why—it was a confluence of fascinating content, thought-provoking classmates, captivating guest speakers, and our inspiring professor and guide.

The course was essentially a retelling of my family’s past, beginning with Amaterasu emerging from darkness to losses in battle during the Genpei War. More relevant and recent to the personal connections and experiences of my own parents, we studied about the Zainichi Koreans and incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII. RSP was my history… as well as my future, as it turns out.

RSP ignited the realization of my deep, hidden connections to Japan. Six months after RSP concluded, I successfully applied to four Japanese universities and chose to study International Relations at Waseda University. I spread my wings as broadly as I could, and the winds took me from the quiet San Diego suburb of Carlsbad (think of Mitsuha’s Itomori) to the maze of skyscrapers and shrines that is downtown Tokyo.

It is funny how one seemingly insignificant decision—for me, having the courage to apply to RSP—can change the course of one’s life. It was in RSP that I began to hear the steady pulse of my homeland beckoning my return. It was RSP that gave me the courage to spread my wings. And it was because of RSP that I now find myself breathing in, savoring and experiencing the energy and adventure that is the lifeblood of my new home, the capital city of Japan: Tokyo.

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The Missing Fragments of My Japanese Identity

The following reflection is a guest post written by Hikaru Sean Isayama, a 2020 alumnus of the Reischauer Scholars Program.
The Missing Fragments of My Japanese Identity
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Finding My Place in the RSP & the U.S.–Japan Relationship

The following reflection is a guest post written by Kristine Pashin, an alumna of the Reischauer Scholars Program, which will begin accepting student applications on September 6, 2021.
Finding My Place in the RSP & the U.S.–Japan Relationship
Brandon Cho at Todaiji Temple, Nara
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A Journey Through Time: The RSP as a Gateway from the Past to My Future

The following reflection is a guest post written by Brandon Cho, an alumnus of the Reischauer Scholars Program.
A Journey Through Time: The RSP as a Gateway from the Past to My Future
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The following reflection is a guest post written by Noah Kurima, a 2021 alumnus of the Reischauer Scholars Program.

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Gary Mukai
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During his recent Japan Tour, ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro offered an inspiring lecture and performance to students enrolled in a class that I am teaching with Professor Hideto Fukudome at the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Education (“Introduction to International and Cross-Cultural Education”).

Jake is from Honolulu, Hawaii, and his great-grandparents were immigrants to Hawaii from Okinawa and Fukushima prefectures. At the age of four, Jake picked up the ukulele and his mother was his first teacher and inspiration. Jake first played the ukulele professionally with the Hawaiian folk-pop trio Pure Heart. The group’s debut album, released in 1997, was a hit in Hawaii and it swept four categories at the Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards—Hawaii’s equivalent of the Grammys. By the early 2000s, Jake became famous in Japan and Hawaii as a solo musician. In 2006, a clip of Jake playing “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” became one of the first viral videos on YouTube and made him internationally famous. Since then, he has performed on late-night shows including Late Night with Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Jake has also composed the original music for a number of film soundtracks, including Hula Girls, 2007, and Saidoweizu, 2009. In 2012, the documentary Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings premiered, showing Jake’s rise as an ukulele virtuoso. He has collaborated with numerous musicians, and his music was featured on Yo-Yo Ma’s Grammy Award-winning Songs of Joy and Peace and Ziggy Marley’s Grammy Award-winning Love Is My Religion. His latest CD is Jake & Friends.

Jake Shimabukuro
Photo courtesy Junichiro Hirata

Jake’s lyrical-like lecture was highlighted by four of his hit songs. He began with “Over the Rainbow,” which was inspired by a version that he heard from the late singer and ukulele musician Israel Kamakawiwoʻole. He then spoke about how a koto performance of a Japanese song, “Sakura” (cherry blossoms), inspired him to compose his version on the ukulele, underscoring his openness to learning from various styles of music, instruments, and musicians. Graduate student Marie Fujimoto, who is a concert violinist, commented, “I loved Jake’s approach to music and to the audience. I felt that his music comes from something personal, and I was drawn to his sensitive and expressive sound immediately. And concerning his arrangement of ‘Sakura,’ it’s amazing how he is engaging with his own ancestral roots so creatively.”

Junichiro Hirata, Gary Mukai, Jake Shimabukuro, David Janes, Hideto Fukudome
Photo courtesy Junichiro Hirata

Following his performance of “Sakura,” he spoke about how life experiences—including a visit with a friend’s grandmother who was suffering from Alzheimer’s and had visions of blue rose petals falling from the ceiling—inspired him to compose “Blue Roses Falling,” which he performed for the audience. One could see tears among several in the audience. David Janes, Executive Director of Global Citizens Initiative, commented, “Jake’s lecture and performance remind me of his role not just as a music ambassador but as a music education ambassador who cares so deeply about humanity.”

I felt that his music comes from something personal, and I was drawn to his sensitive and expressive sound immediately. And concerning his arrangement of ‘Sakura,’ it’s amazing how he is engaging with his own ancestral roots so creatively.
Marie Fujimoto

He concluded his performance with “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and mentioned that composer George Harrison loved the ukulele. His performance gave the audience a glimpse into why his YouTube video of the song went viral and why he is considered the virtuoso that he is.

In 2021, Jake was nominated by President Joe Biden to serve on the National Council of the Arts, yet his many commitments have not diminished one of his passions—working with students and teachers. Fukudome commented, “Despite Jake’s whirlwind Japan Tour, which included performances in Hiroshima, Fukuoka, Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya, Yokohama, and Tokyo, he took the time to meet with our students. This truly demonstrates his dedication to education and underscores his role as a cultural bridge-builder between countries like Japan and the United States. I was moved and inspired by Jake’s performance. Learning in college is often seen as something done by the brain, but how the senses, the heart, and the body work together is crucial to learning. Today’s opportunity to experience how the mind, emotions, and hand relate to each other through Jake’s performance was meaningful for all participants.”

Fujimoto continued, “Also, his lecture was chill, but also insightful and inspiring. I just admire how he learns from so many things like talking drums and hand techniques of Bruce Lee (!) and applies them to the ukulele.”

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Yo-Yo Ma and Kinan Azmeh
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Yo-Yo Ma with Professor Dien and the SPICE staff, Art Institute of Chicago
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Professor Emeritus Albert Dien Delivers Final Lecture

On June 29, 2021, Stanford Professor Emeritus Albert Dien, East Asian Languages and Culture, delivered his last lecture.
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SPICE and Stanford Live: extending the Silk Road to Bay Area classrooms

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Students are also treated to a performance of several of his hits.

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Sabrina Ishimatsu
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The following is Part 9 of a multiple-part series. To read previous installments in this series, please visit the following articles: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, and Part 8.

Since December 8, 2020, SPICE has posted eight articles that highlight reflections from 65 students on the question, “What does it mean to be an American?” Part 9 features seven additional reflections. The reflections below do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPICE staff.

The free educational website “What Does It Mean to Be an American?” offers six lessons on immigration, civic engagement, leadership, civil liberties & equity, justice & reconciliation, and U.S.–Japan relations. The lessons encourage critical thinking through class activities and discussions. On March 24, 2021, SPICE’s Rylan Sekiguchi was honored by the Association for Asian Studies for his authorship of the lessons that are featured on the website, which was developed by the Mineta Legacy Project in partnership with SPICE.

Leo Brown, Oregon
When I think about what being American means to me, I think of all the opportunities that many people take for granted such as being able to play sports and being able to experience all of the natural beauty and diversity that America has to offer. Sometimes, I think we forget that many people around the world aren’t able to experience many aspects of life that we have come to expect, and that we are very privileged to have all of these wonderful opportunities. I think that America as a country has been trying to change for the better ever since it was founded. Although we are not perfect, I believe we’ve taken many steps in the right direction in trying to become a country that best represents our diversity.

Cindy DeDianous, New York
When I think of an “American” person, I instinctively picture a white man. I recently spoke to a friend who said the opposite—she pictures an Indian American, like herself. To me, being American is still initially based on looks. As someone who is half white and half Asian, this has led to moments where I amplify my white identity to feel connected to a society that may disadvantage me otherwise. I want to believe that all Americans, including myself, can one day picture an “American” that is a diverse, accurate representation of the different groups that make up the identity of our nation. The harsh reality of racial discrimination plastered across the headlines makes it difficult to reconcile these two images of America. Still, being American empowers me to be an individual and exist as I am—no matter what anyone else pictures an American to be.

Sergianni Jennings, Colombia
I was born in Bogotá, Colombia, and raised in the United States as a dual citizen. My family is both African American and Italian American, therefore, my upbringing was full of multicultural perspectives. I found myself pondering how I fit into the label of “American,” when much of my background felt incredibly disconnected from the land I grew up in. I soon realized that America is a place where diversity flourishes, and a place that encourages inclusivity to accommodate the diverse population it harbors. Therefore, for me, to be American means to accept diversity in all forms, such as race, gender, or even aspirations. As a Colombian American passionate about learning Japanese, I have found that the diversity of America encourages me to pursue all my passions and accept my own diverse identity.

Beckett Kim, Kentucky
America has been shaped by immigrants with different cultures influencing what being an American means. To me, being an American is the ability to come from various places and still make an impact. Although there are greater challenges for some due to ethnicity, gender, and sexual identity, it is still possible to achieve successes which makes being an American a gift—a gift of possibility to strive for by working hard. Being a minority in America is often not easy, as certain privileges are often not afforded to me. However, it is not impossible, and with enough work and dedication, all can achieve the opportunities available in society. The gift of being an American means being able to choose who one can become.

Kirin Lancaster, Washington
As a young girl in elementary school, I remember every day we would recite the Pledge of Allegiance. I thought the word “indivisible” was “invisible.” Later, I was embarrassed to find I had been using the wrong word. But I found myself even more embarrassed learning the promise of indivisibility was a lie. Being American, as a teenager, means recognizing the imperfections of our nation and knowing that we cannot uphold this reputation of glory when people see the realities of inequality, injustice, and ignorance that we constantly face. Our generation has a new understanding of what it means to be one nation, and it is now our responsibility to spread awareness, educate, and inspire through action.

Maya Moncaster, Washington
To me, being an American means fighting for justice and equality. As a woman in the LGBTQIA+ community, I want to fight for justice because I’m starting to understand the struggles of being in a marginalized community. Even though in some places in America, we are making progress with gender equality, gay and trans rights, women’s rights, and POC rights, we still have much to improve. Every year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, my family and I host a huge hot chocolate stand and donate 100% of our proceeds to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a charity that fights to protect civil liberties for all Americans across the country. I am grateful to live in America with the opportunities and freedom that I have and also know we all have to do our small part to make sure these freedoms reach all Americans.

Yurika Sakai, Connecticut
Americans hold a wide range of beliefs, developed from unique combinations of cultural ancestry, socioeconomic status, geographic region, and even experiences gained abroad. Given this diversity, being American means learning to find harmony or at the very least acceptance and compromise, in a community full of dissonance. Some instances of difference are more challenging to overcome than others, and at times we forget the need for each of us to have an open mind about beliefs outside of our own, resulting in painful experiences of exclusion or discrimination. However, because difference is the norm, everyday experiences gradually teach us how to engage in a community with respect, and painful memories of mistreatment are opportunities for us to become more compassionate and understanding individuals. As Americans, we are constantly changing by necessity as we learn how to better interact with the assortment of individuals that we call our community.

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What Does It Mean to Be an American?: Reflections from Students (Part 8)

Reflections of eight students on the website “What Does It Mean to Be an American?”
What Does It Mean to Be an American?: Reflections from Students (Part 8)
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What Does It Mean to Be an American?: Reflections from Students (Part 7)

Reflections of eight students on the website “What Does It Mean to Be an American?”
What Does It Mean to Be an American?: Reflections from Students (Part 7)
headshots of eight high school students
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What Does It Mean to Be an American?: Reflections from Students (Part 6)

Reflections of eight students on the website “What Does It Mean to Be an American?”
What Does It Mean to Be an American?: Reflections from Students (Part 6)
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Reflections of seven students on the educational website “What Does It Mean to Be an American?”

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