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J-term in Japan
J-term in Japan
J-term offers a world of opportunities.
J-term in Japan 2014
program at Randolph-Macon College offers students a world of opportunities. Just ask the students enrolled in January Term (
) classes taught by
Professor Lauren Bell and
Professor James Doering.
Both courses began with a week of study on campus, after which participants traveled to Washington, D.C. for three days before venturing to Japan for 12 days. In Japan they visited Ishinomaki, Hiroshima, Kyoto, and Tokyo.
A World of Opportunities
“Going to Japan was a dream come true for me,” says
Aaron Fleming ’14
minor. “I really enjoyed learning about the Japanese culture through music, food and Kabuki Theater.”
Bell’s course, Comparative Legislatures, is a comparative study of the Japanese and U.S. systems of governments. In Washington D.C., Bell’s students attended oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court, visited the U.S. Congress, and discussed energy policy with
Troy Lyons ’05
, who works in government relations for BP America. While in Japan, the students spent a morning at Kyoto University for a private lecture by Japanese legal scholar Tsukasa Mihira. They also visited the Supreme Court of Japan, where they were treated to a private tour and briefing, and they spent a very full day at the Diet, Japan’s national legislature, where they met several elected officials and parliamentary staff members.
Students had opportunities to meet and engage with Japanese elected and appointed officials—opportunities that exceed those available to most students in both the U.S. and Japan, says Bell. “It’s certainly not every day that undergraduates get to discuss Japanese immigration policy, energy policy, and disaster management with leading policy experts on these issues,” she says.
Allison Carpenter ’16
“A highlight of the trip was going to Japan’s Supreme Court and sitting in the Chief Justice’s seat,” says the
major. “I also really enjoyed going to the Diet and meeting with parliament members.”
Doering’s course, Film Music in Japan, is an exploration of Japanese music through film. In Washington D.C., Doering’s students examined the ways that music, film, and Japanese culture have survived. They visited the Freer Gallery, the Library of Congress, and attended a musical performance by members of the Washington Koto Society. They also met with American composer and multimedia artist Ryan Holladay. While in Japan, the students attended a performance by the taiko group M’s Japan Orchestra, explored musical instrument museums in Hamamatsu and Tokyo, had a personal tour of the National Film Center in Tokyo, and visited Toei Studios in Kyoto.
“We had amazing opportunities to interact closely with musicians, filmmakers, and scholars in very personal ways,” says Doering, “such as when the M’s Japan Orchestra invited our students on stage and taught them some of the fundamentals of taiko drumming. They had a chance to get inside the sounds, talk with the musicians, and experience the music in a deep way. ”
The two courses had many common experiences in Japan, including tours of Ishinomaki, Kyoto, and Kamakura, a visit to the Peace Memorial and meeting with an A-Bomb Survivor in Hiroshima, and a kabuki performance in Tokyo. Students also met with former Japanese Ambassador to the U.S., Hon. Ichiro Fujisaki.
“Meeting the Hon. Ichiro Fujisaki was great; we learned about his view on Japanese-U.S. relations as well as what we can do to continue to help aid the recovering areas of Japan,” says
John Rackey ’15
. “His message was one of hope and optimism.”
A powerful component of the trip was a tour of the Ishinomaki area, where
Taylor Anderson ’08
lived and worked. Anderson, who dedicated her life to teaching Japanese children, died as a result of the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami.
“We visited several schools, met Taylor’s colleagues, and saw the Taylor Anderson Reading Corner (Taylor bunko), which was built in Taylor’s honor,” says Doering.
For Bell and Doering, the trip was the opportunity to reconnect with contacts they and four of their colleagues made during a
2012 trip to Japan
. That trip was made possible through The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership grant, “
Honoring the Life, Work, and Good Spirit of Taylor Anderson: Enhancing Japanese Studies at Randolph-Macon College
.” The 2014 J-term trip was funded in part by the same grant. Says Bell, “It’s been especially rewarding for me to get to know the people and culture of Japan and to share the experience with students.”
“The trip affected me in so many ways and the lessons I learned in Japan continue to affect me on a daily basis,” says Rackey. “I strongly encourage all students to study abroad if they get the chance. It is an eye-opening experience that you will never forget.”
January Term at R-MC
J-term offers something for everyone. Students can spend January exploring the world and immerse themselves in another culture, a career, or an on-campus course. This year, R-MC celebrates 50 years of
Other students dedicate the month to internships. R-MC’s
Bassett Internship Program
connects students with internships in a wide range of locations and career fields. On campus, J-term offers for-credit courses across the curriculum, making it possible for students to immerse themselves for one month in a single subject or
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