After an immersive trip to Tokyo for Technos International Week, Stephanie Pichardo ’20, Adrian Shin ’20 and Director of Intercultural Affairs Alejandra Molina shared their experiences with the community during a Cross Cultural Coffee Hour on Nov. 16.
“It was incredibly interesting to experience the culture of the Japanese people,” says Pichardo ’20, a political science major. “Being able to experience life as an outsider was extremely valuable in teaching me about cross-cultural exchange. I felt how my identity as an American affects how I relate to the rest of the world.”
During the all-expenses paid experience, Pichardo, Shin and Molina attended language and cultural programs hosted by Technos International College, including classes in Japanese etiquette and sushi making; explored the city and traveled to historical sites in Hiroshima and Nagasaki; and connected with the Japanese people, making new friends with their host families and the Technos community.
Pichardo and Shin, who will study abroad in South Korea next fall, developed a new sense of American individualism versus Eastern collectivism. “While exploring Tokyo, I felt like one of many rather than ‘one in a million.’ It was a humbling experience that changed my perspective,” says Shin, an Asian studies major.
Over the past 25 years, Technos International Week has become a core component of global education at HWS. “It’s the perfect cultural exchange. We approached the trip wanting to adapt, absorb and respect their culture. The 12 days affected us and were truly transformative,” says Molina, who notes that as part of the program two Japanese students, Aoi Suzuki and Saki Ono, visited the Colleges earlier this semester.
Technos International Week began in 1992, thanks to the generosity of the Tanaka family and the Tanaka Memorial Foundation, whose gifts established the Tanaka Asian Studies Endowment and annually supports the Asian Studies Program, the Tanaka Lectureship in Japanese, and other programming at HWS. In addition to the endowment, 1992 marked the beginning of two initiatives with Technos International College (sponsored by the Tanaka Ikueikai Educational Trust), the International Prizes for Academic Excellence and International Understanding, and the Technos International Week.
The Colleges’ relationship with the Tanaka family dates back to the late 1980s when Tanaka visited the campus with his daughters, Makiko and Kimiko. A friendship was forged on that visit between the Tanaka family and the Colleges that not only has continued, but has flourished.
More information about Pichardo, Shin and Molina’s trip to Japan, including a video of their excursion, is available on their blog.