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Student News: Japan Track
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- Kartik Menon (Dartmouth ’16, Double Major in Mathematics and Japanese)
This past winter, courtesy of a generous grant from Dartmouth’s Dickey Center for International Understanding, I went to Tokyo and worked for the U.S. Embassy! My work was with the TOMODACHI Initiative, an organization that was founded to lend hope and resources to the people affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Since it’s founding in 2011, it has expanded to provide leadership training, educational and in a way, future foreign service/diplomatic programming for students and professionals in Japan and the United States. The work was awesome and it was touching to meet the people involved and participating with TOMODACHI, especially those who were coming from the Tohoku region. While in Japan I got to meet up with old friends from the Japanese LSA+ last summer, as well as a few alumni, like Mark Davidson, who introduced the LSAers to the embassy to begin with, Christian ’13, and Ryan Goldstein, who let us into a sumo morning practice! And let me mention that the Hanover winter apparently followed me to Japan, where two 20-year record-breaking snowfalls happened on consecutive weekends. (Photo: Kartik is on the left.)
- Wesley Lau (Dartmouth ’15; double major in Japanese and Economics), 2013-2014
In the fall of my junior year I worked with Professor Dorsey as a Presidential Scholar Research Assistant indexing Katagiri Yuzuru’s underground folk paper, the “Kawaraban.” Along with publishing folk songs (Japanese originals, translations of American songs and parodies/”kaeuta”), in its short publication run from the late 60s to early 70s, it acted as a point for the political folk movement in the Kansai region of Japan to gather and spread news about demonstrations, festivals and major events. Although the magazine only ran for a short few years, it was filled with commentary and pointed jokes about the major social and political issues of the times, from the US-Japan Joint Security Treaty to the Osaka World Fair, and painted a unique picture of the Japanese youth typically absent from our perception of history. In addition to being able to further improve my Japanese (especially my ability to read handwriting!), it was a great experience to learn about a unique counterculture that made such a significant impact on modern popular music and culture, and for this upcoming spring term I plan on doing related research with Professor Dorsey on the anti-nuclear movement after the Fukushima disaster through modern day protest songs in Japan.
- Dartmouth Japan Society (DJS; student group), Winter Term 2014 Activities
In many ways the Hanover winter is tough. But DJS kept the entertainment going by providing opportunities for students to engage in various aspects of Japanese culture. Apart from our weekly meetings, we enjoyed three special events. First, we had a Takoyaki Party, or Tako-pa, as most students call them in Japan. Some were rather creative and "mochi" takoyaki in particular were amazing. Our termly Onigiri Hour was another fun event, learning professional tips from Ishida sensei. They were perfectly described with these words: 「懐かしい味」(a taste that brings back fond memories)!! Thirdly, Wesley Lau 15', Kanda exchange student Eri Shinose and I (Eri Fumoto, exchange student from Keio) organized a movie night to commemorate the 3rd anniversary of 3.11 triple disasters (earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear reactor failure). The documentary "The Tsunami and The Cherry Blossom" offered a chance for students from across the campus to discuss with Professors Nozawa and Dorsey. Personally, I found it interesting to watch such a film in the US and think about how evanescence plays an important role in Japanese discourses. DJS always welcomes new members and is looking forward to holding events again to reach out to the wider community on campus. (Submitted by Eri Fumoto; photo from the Tako-pa.)
- Xu “Gabby” Chen (Dartmouth '14; double major: Japanese and Asian and Middle Eastern Studies), February 2014
On 26 February 2014 Gabby Chen presented her senior honors thesis for her degree in Japanese in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and Literatures. Titled “Dimensions of Surface Representation: A Contemporary Case Study of Japanese Young Female Cosmetics, Style, and Identity” and supervised by Professor Shunsuke Nozawa, the thesis examines the intersections of race, subjectivity, and aesthetics as they are revealed in the make-up and fashion industries. A participant in Dartmouth’s 2011 summer program in Japan, Gabby travelled there again in June and December 2013 to gather material for her research. This senior thesis is actually her second; under the direction of Professor Wen Xing, Gabby successfully completed for her major in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES) a project titled “Directions of Luxury: A Case Study of Contemporary Chinese Luxury Consumerism” in the spring of 2013. She is hoping to attend graduate school beginning in the fall of 2014. (Photo: Gabby, with her thesis advisors. Prof. Nozawa on the left and Prof. Xing on the right.)
- Eri Shinose (exchange student from Kanda University of International Studies, Chiba) Sept 2013~March 2014
Since arriving at Dartmouth I’ve introduced myself as one who knows nothing and is here to learn. It’s true. People around me snap their fingers, and I had no idea it signalled approval. I never imagined there were so many resources on campus to further any project I might conceive. And I have been filled with everything from ideas to stimulation to fattening foods. I often think of the Japanese phrase “uteba hibiku,” meaning “strike and it will resound.” That is to say that here at Dartmouth I need only take the first step and somebody, somewhere, is sure to contribute to the effort. My terms at Dartmouth have been two of the best of my life. I will never forget blitzmail from people and organizations making my iPhone buzz constantly, sleepless nights cramming in the library, fingernails falling off from frostbite during winter hiking, and the dip into Occom Pond during Winter Carnival. In terms of academic inspiration, personal growth, friends for a lifetime, professors with open office doors, I have been blessed at Dartmouth. Thanks to Dartmouth, as well as to my home institution of Kanda University of International Studies (KUIS), for making this possible!
- Abigail Bard (Dartmouth'14; Major in Linguistics, minor in Japanese) and Yonsue Kim (Dartmouth ’13; M.A. in Comparative Literature), Winter 2014
The Student Forum on Global Education took place on 20 January 2014, being held in conjunction with the Martin Luther King, Jr., celebrations at Dartmouth College. Abby and Yonsue were selected to present on a panel titled “Whose Japan is it Anyway? Fabricating the Foreign,” where they explored the ways “third cultures” inflect the way we understand the foreign countries we visit. Yonsue, from South Korea, first studied in Japan alongside a group of Americans, and her experience was shaped by that context. Abby, raised in the U.S. came to see Japan very differently after research on Taketomijima (an Okinawan island). The discussion which followed focused on the relationship of language to identity, and the constructed nature of the connection between the two. (photo: Yonsue is on the left and Abby on the right.)
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