Quarterly TOP gj

JSPS Summer Program Held


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
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.

Ms Birgit Pils
During Ms Birgit Pils'
homestay experience

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.

Research Activities

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
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
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
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.