Attended by 108 young pre- and post-doctoral researchers from the US, UK, France, Germany and Canada, the JSPS Summer Program,
cosponsored by The Graduate University for Advanced Studies (Sokendai), was held over a 2-month period from 30 June to 24 August.
An orientation was held at Shonan Village, in the seaside town of Hayama, during the first week of the program. At it, the fellows
attended classes on Japanese language learning, took excursions to cultural and historical sites, and experienced Japanese living through
homestay with Japanese families. After the orientation, the participants divided up and went to their respective host institutions.
Their summer internships afforded them an experience upon which to consider coming back to Japan to do research at future junctures in their careers.
During the last two days of the program, the participants reassembled to present their research reports.
Japanese Language Training
Ten hours of the orientation session were dedicated to intensive Japanese study.
The participants were divided into classes by the level of their existing Japanese language ability. They learned Japanese "survival"
language of a kind that would be useful to them over their 2-month summer stays.
In the beginners class curriculum, a unique method was used to teach the participants how to read Japanese in katakana in
just one hour. In testing their new skill, the fellows were delighted to find that they could read the Japanese on soft drink cans in
the vending machine just outside the classroom. On the intermediate and advanced levels, lessons centering on discussion were aimed
at each participant being able to give a self-introduction and speech on the last day of the class. Many expressed a strong incentive to
continue studying Japanese after the program ended.
|During Ms Birgit Pils'
On the weekend, the fellows stayed in Japanese homes. Some went to see the Star Festival or participated in other summer
events with their host families. Each in his or her own way was well received by the host family. One fellow said "I have always known
the Japanese are very hard workers; now I've found that they also know how to enjoy themselves." Another remarked "I was surprised
to find the husband and wife sharing a much more equal burden of the housework than I had expected." Though their homestay experience
was short-lived, it offered the fellows a fresh and insightful experience.
The centerpiece of the Summer Program was the fellows' internship at a host research institution, where they took part in
research activities with frontline Japanese researchers in their respective fields. The following are some comments offered by fellows on
their research experience.
Mr. Muhammad Arsalan (doctoral student, VLSI Design, Carleton University, Canada)
At Tokyo Institute of Technology
There were two seminars held per week in the lab to present the research going on in the group. About ten days after my arrival,
I presented my research activities. In July, my host, Dr. Nobuo Fujii, arranged several visits for me to research and manufacturing facilities such
as Sony and Renesas to experience the on-going research and working practices in hi-tech Japanese laboratories.
Mr. Cuong Manh Vu (medical student, Orthopedics / Biochemistry, The Johns Hopkins University, USA)
At The University of Tokyo
I spent most of my time running experiments and working closely with other researchers in the lab.
They helped me with a lot of the specific techniques and equipment. The greatest part of joining the summer program was the ability it gave me
to immerse myself into another culture. I really enjoyed interacting with the people in my lab, and I hope that I have affected them in
a positive light as well. I think my experience in this program will greatly effect the course of my future research.
Mr. Shannon T. Bischoff (PhD candidate, Linguistics, The University of Arizona, USA)
At The University of Tokyo
My research during the summer program involved an analysis of null arguments in Japanese. After interviewing a number of
students to collect a data set and analyzing it for theoretically significant information, my colleague and I went to my host researcher with
our results and impressions of the data's theoretical implications. It was very much a hands-on collaborative effort. As a researcher, I could
collect important data not easily accessible in the US. As a student, I had the privilege of working with my host.