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Korbel Students Gain Insights Into Japanese History, Culture and Politics Through Participation in the Kakehashi Project

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Student Exchange Program Funded by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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Last month, 23 graduate and undergraduate students from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies had the opportunity to visit Japan as participants in the Kakehashi Project. Sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, the Kakehashi Project is a fully-funded student exchange program between Japan and the United States. The objective of this program is to promote deeper mutual understanding among the people of Japan and the United States, enable future leaders of Japan-U.S. exchanges to form networks and help young people develop wider perspectives to encourage future active roles at the global level.

As part of their nine-day tour of Japan, Korbel School students attended lectures about society, politics, history and foreign policy, enhancing their understanding of Japan; visited educational institutions, high-tech and traditional industries, World Heritage sites and provincial governments; and participated in activities that strengthened their knowledge and appreciation of Japanese culture.

The homestay experience was a notable favorite for participants in the program. "We were really touched by the kindness, warmth, and hospitality of our host family," said Andrew Scott, a second-year MA candidate in the Global Finance, Trade, and Economic Integration program. "They prepared several activities for us to take part in during the day: a private tour of a local mushroom farm, a visit to the Osafune Sword Museum, and a trip to a scenic lookout point overlooking the coast, with a view of Maejima Island," he said. Aaron Hinds, a second-year undergraduate student at Korbel, noted that it was inspiring to see how easy it was to connect with his Japanese host family, even with the language barrier, because of a mutual interest in each other's cultures and lifestyles.

Through their involvement in the Kakehashi Project, students not only had the opportunity to learn about Japan's rich history and culture; they gained invaluable knowledge to be effective future leaders in the international affairs community. "The Kakehashi Project gave me the chance to put the theories I learned in courses at Korbel and see them in practice," said Hinds. "Sitting in on the various lectures held at Meiji and Osaka Universities, I learned about many of the concerns the people of the East Asian and Pacific regions face, while, at the same time, formulating and proposing ideas to possibly mitigate those problems with Japanese scholars and political officials." Scott also sees the value of his experiences in Japan. "The knowledge that I gained on the trip will definitely be useful in my own studies around the politics and economics of East Asia, particularly as it relates to China's global emergence," he said. "This will be beneficial to my own long-term plans to work in the region later in my career."

Ambassador Christopher R. Hill, dean of the Josef Korbel School, was instrumental in launching this opportunity for students. The Kakehashi Project has simultaneously provided students the chance to intimately learn about Japanese society and the U.S.-Japan partnership, while developing their skills as international affairs professionals. Through their experiences, participants in the Kakehashi Project are one step closer to becoming tomorrow's global leaders.