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May 22, 2012

Student Reflections – May 22

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By Shamoiya Washington

Before traveling abroad to Japan, my understanding of Japanese education was based solely on my impression of the exchange Japanese students at USC we met earlier in the semester. Because of their level of success at the university I assumed their commitment to their studies back home took just as much if not more dedication. Yesterday I learned from American exchange students that the university experience in the United States was far more challenging than in Japan. According to several students I spoke with, the intensity and stress American college students feel because of examinations and term papers isn’t the same in Japanese universities. Instead, colleges in Japan have much more leisure time than schools in the U.S. and students are given quite a bit of freedom to engage in extracurricular activities.

Upon learning this I was extremely surprised because I always thought the education in Japan would be more intense and stressful than schools in the U.S. I was interested to learn more about why academics at the university level weren’t as challenging as I imagined. Upon further inquiry, I found that the reason why universities are a lot more relaxed is because the process by which it takes to get into a university is far tougher than it is in America. Access into a college institution in Japan is much more limited than it is in America. Even getting into a high school requires an application from middle school. Japanese students spend much of their K-12 experience working arduously to reach the next level. So when comparing the their grade school experience I find the U.S. to be more relaxed for the youth. This is why the process is reversed when Japanese students enter universities in Japan. College is now the time for Japanese students to gain more experience from activities.

May 21, 2012

Student Reflections – May 21

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By Rikiesha Pierce

Today was our first official day in Tokyo, and it was definitely a busy one for us all. I was extremely jet-lagged; I found it difficult to sleep in and woke up a few times during the night. By 4:30, the sun was high in the sky, and half of our group headed out to the fishing auction to catch some of Japan’s largest economies live in action. Stayed in and had a hearty breakfast of a McDonald’s fish filet and hash browns. There was a bit of a commotion on the streets as we were walking back to the hotel. Interested in finding out what all the fuss was about, some of the locals pointed out the solar eclipse happening just above the Tokyo skyline. It was an amazing sight to witness. From there we caught the train to the Tokyo Tower and got a bird’s eye view of the city. Standing at the top of the tower gave me an appreciation of the combination of modern life and nature. The lush green plants against the harrowing skyscrapers made me realize the lack of plant life in Los Angeles. I wonder what our city would look like if we planted more trees in the city?

From the Tokyo tower, we had an authentic Japanese lunch in the market and headed to Meji Park in Harajuku where I was able to leave a prayer and offering in the center of the forest. It was a humbling experience to be standing in the midst of historic Japan paying tribute and respect to the Emperor that helped modernize Japan. After that, we were able to go exploring in Harajuku and do a little bit of shopping. I was able to meet some real Harajuku girls who wore pink and purple wigs, big pink dresses, tights, platform shoes. There were many other people trying to capture a photo with them and I was one of the lucky few nimble enough to weasel my way in. I was ecstatic to make their acquaintance. After surveying downtown Tokyo for take-home items, cheap clothing, and other knick-knacks, we finally headed home. Today was a busy day indeed, filled with travel, walking, and most of all, Japanese culture.

Sayonara!

By Guadalupe Cardona

Today was a day of exploration. It was not a heavy day of action but enough of exercise. My feet are killing me. They weren’t playing about wearing comfortable shoes. The first stop was Tokyo Tower. The view is beautiful. You can see everything. The most shocking is the balance between nature and industry. There are as much buildings as trees. It is something we definitely have to have in Los Angeles. The peacefulness that these random areas of pure nature make the day soothing and relaxing and takes away all the worry one may have.  Next stop was a shrine. It was awesome. So many trees in one place like a forest. It was lovely.  The rest of the day was city sight-seeing and I enjoyed it. I ate a banana and custard crepe and it was amazing. But today has definitely taught me to embrace the Japanese culture more. I can’t wait for what tomorrow brings. I will embrace very moment here. They are so different and similar in everything they do here to us in America. The only difference is how polite they are. That would be awkward to Americans.

By Jasmine Torres

Today was an exciting day. I had the opportunity to see Tokyo Tower, which was really awesome. The Tokyo Tower looked very much like the Eiffel Tower and for someone who has always wanted to go to Paris to see the famous tower, the Tokyo Tower was a real treat. I was surprised to see that the train stations were very clean and also very quiet. I actually saw a man vacuuming the steps at the train station. I ride the bus and trains every weekend in Los Angeles and they are neither pleasant rides nor clean ones. We also got to go visit a Shrine that was beautiful. There was a lot of green and a lot of trees. However, the most exciting thing was going to Harajuku. It was crazy! There were clothing shops filled with all pastel clothing or with all gothic and black clothing and costumes. My friend Lucy explained to me that this is dressing Lolita or Gothic Lolita. I even saw some girls dressed like it was Halloween with their big “poofy” dresses and pink and purple hair. Also, all the women wear heels here everyday! I am not sure I could do that!  I think slowly I am beginning to realize I am no longer in the United States and that this culture here that is foreign to me is someone’s; that it is as normal to them as it is normal for me to live and act the way I do in the U.S. It is exciting to see that the small world I have lived in is so tiny compared to how big the world is. I am grateful for the opportunity to be here and learn about myself (despite having to walk like a million miles a day). I am excited to walk more, learn more, eat more, and be more immersed in this culture here in Japan.

May 20, 2012

Student Reflections – May 20

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By Kim Vu

We are finally in Japan!

Although the flight was non-stop, I found it exhausting & very difficult to sleep.  Luckily, Korea Air had plenty of movies to watch with food and beverages available throughout the trip.  I watched “Memoirs of a Geisha” on the plane because I thought it would be appropriate for this trip.  Though I was tempted to have the salmon or chicken for lunch, I settled on the Korean bibimbap so that I could experience Korean food.  I’ve tried some of a friend’s bibimbap before, but this was a whole different experience.  We were given a card with instructions on how to prepare the bibimbap, putting the rice into the bigger bowl which had some veggies and ground meat, followed by the chili paste, and then adding the sesame oil before mixing everything up.  The man next to me added his soup to the mix when he wasn’t supposed to and he looked very confused when the flight attendant was trying to explain this.

I really liked the flight attendants uniforms—a turquoise colored blouse with tan pants as well as a turquoise tie for their hair.  They worked throughout the trip to make sure we got enough drinks and snacks.  They were very good with asking me if I needed anything periodically and I really enjoyed how they put different cultural foods on the plane so that guests could try.  The flight itself was extremely smooth, though very long and everyone took the whole day’s trip to anticipate finally arriving.

By David Cortes

We had to be at LAX at 7:30 am in order to have enough time to check in and process our information at the airport. After we were done checking in, we had to wait till 10:35 am to start boarding the airplane. Being able to see the airplane we were going to board created excitement because we were actually heading to Japan.

Once we were on the airplane, we began our 11 hour journey to Japan. The plan ride was long and tiring because we had limited space, which made it uncomfortable. Fortunately, we had the opportunity to watch movies on the airplane. It made the plane ride go by smoothly.

Once we arrived at Narita airport, we saw a sign that welcomed us to Japan. That was an exciting moment for all of us because we had reached our destination safely. It was great to see everything in a different language because it meant that we could fully immerse ourselves into the Japanese culture. Furthermore, we lost our nighttime because we crossed the International Date Line.

Our real journey began when we boarded the train in order to head over to Akasaka. It was tiring and a long ride. We had to walk a lot with our luggage all over the train stations, which made it difficult to move around at times. Getting to our hotel was the best part because we were finally able to rest and put our stuff down. It took us more than an hour to actually arrive at our final destination.

May 19, 2012

Student Reflections – May 19

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By Eric Ochoa

Today we boarded the plane and headed for Japan which was particularly a great experience for me considering that I’d never been on an airplane before at all. Although my first flight was for 11 hours the plane ride turned out to be very smooth and a great experience overall. The plane had individual monitors for us to individually watch movies or play games which was a great commodity on such a long flight. Having had my first flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo was rewarding in that now when I travel again the trip should be much shorter.

After the flight we arrived at Narita airport where we began our journey in Japan. At this point it still had not hit me that we were really in Japan because everything seemed pretty similar to LAX. However, as soon as we boarded the Narita express we realized how different public transportation was in Tokyo than in Los Angeles. There was absolutely no form of graffiti in the trains and this trend continued even onto the common subway trains, every thing seemed to be so well maintained. These subtle differences are really what made the culture shock of being in Japan that much more noticeable. We had braced ourselves for an entirely different culture but it was the little things that really made a difference.  We had to walk from the subway station to our hotel with all of our luggage which was very tiring and an unfortunate foreshadowing of what’s to come next week when we travel to Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Nagoya. When we got to the hotel we immediately noticed how different the Japanese are in terms of space, we had a very small bathroom and all the essentials of an apartment seemed to be crammed into one small area, however it’s done so well that it comes off as more efficient than anything else. I’m sure there will be much more differences in the 2 weeks to come and I’m looking forward to experiencing all of them.

May 17, 2012

Student Reflections – May 17

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By Johanna Becerra

Today we went to Disney’s Imagineering office in Glendale and then we went to Disneyland. At the Imagineering office, we had a presentation about the Disney resort in Tokyo. We learned that the Disney Resort in Tokyo is the only resort that is not owned by Disney but is instead owned by the Oriental Land Company, while Disney guides it. The Imagineering office has 140 different disciplines that people can work in, ranging from artist to engineers. The environment in this office was amazing! I would love to be an engineer for them one day! We learned about their creative process, starting from “blue skies” to what we see on TV.  It is a very long process that involves a lot of people.

VP of Park Operations and his assistant, Donna Hicks, very generously arranged a number of associates to speak to students.

At Disneyland we got backstage access to the park, where VP of Park Operations Jon Storbeck happily greeted us. We were then given a presentation about Disney’s new bear Duffy; he was a great success in Japan, and other Asian countries. Overall this Disney experience changed the way I see Disney. Now, every time I see something related to Disney I am inclined to analyze it since I know more about where it came from and what it took to develop it.

By Guadalupe Cardona

Disneyland! We visited the “happiest place on earth” today and spent half the day getting to know what goes on back stage. We started at the Imagineering Studio where essentially all the magic happens. The artists, animators, sculptors, builders, and inventors that have put together the Disney World we all love work there. The sculpture room we visited was thrilling. I have never seen anything like it in my life and it was breathtaking. Then we had presentations from associates at Disneyland in Anaheim. They provided information about how their marketing and sales happen. They really study their locations. Here in California, they make their money in ticket sales while in Tokyo it is in merchandise. Then we learned how high their profits were when presenting Duffy the Disney Bear to Japan. I learned for the first time who this bear was; he turned out to be Mickey’s teddy bear. I’m excited to see if Duffy is big in America and takes over Pooh.

But what I kept hearing is the fact that America is fast and profit-oriented while Japan is patient and oriented towards pleasing its residents. In a sense, America puts products on the shelf and prices them according to how good the quality is. However, Japan makes sure everything it brings to the public is the best quality no matter what price they put on it. In the beginning, I wasn’t sure if Disney fit into my research topic. But the pre-conceived notions both cultures have of each other are the basis of my paper and understanding how the cultures come together fits the Disney business well. Their beliefs of how each country works affect the way they do business together. It was interesting to see how they make it work? It all seems to be connecting at some point and it’s very exciting. I can’t wait to visit Disney in Tokyo! As for the rest of the day, shopping on Main Street, being on the rides, and watching the parade was the way to go.

By Rikiesha Pierce

Today we had the longest day of any so far since beginning the program. We headed out at 7:30 and went to the Disney Imagineering lab in Glendale to get a behind the scenes look at how ideas are developed, cultivated, and turned into reality both on the screen and at Disneyland Theme Park. This was an amazing opportunity to peer into the psyche of corporate business, and opened my eyes to the money-making machines that dominate many of the mainstream media platforms that are most pervasive in society today. Listening to the presentations made me become aware of the importance of economic prosperity in the dogma of business. From the opening of new theme parks around the world to the creation of animated films, every aspect of the media was controlled by profitability. This did not shock me in the least; yet, I was disappointed that the social impact of representation on screen as well as the desire to develop progressive representation were not driving factors in the operations at Disney.

Our tour continued to the Disneyland Park where we received countless presentations from Disney executives about the marketing, industrial engineering, design, and merchandizing of Disney brand both domestic and abroad. Disney has a very comprehensive corporate structure superb at turning ideas into profit. The emphasis of economic growth and development throughout each of the presentations given highlighted the importance that profit is in the operating ideology of Disney. Adherence to a corporate model of success designed with the average American Disney consumer in mind may deter the construction of more diverse characters as they may seem less profitable to the Disney market. I asked one of my fellow scholars to try to think of a Disney movie in the present day animated through their partnership with Pixar that featured an African American, Hispanic American, or Asian character. She and I both were unable to. Maybe I am not thinking deeply enough, but to me there is a problem when I have to ransack my brain to remember a character of color but can rattle off the names of 5 White leads featured in Disney using the same criterion.

My passion in life is to create media that counters hegemonic notions of normalcy in society, and I am committed to diversifying representations of people of color as well as increasing their visibility in the media. Disney played such a profound role in my childhood as a force that provided me with a discourse to imagine myself into roles that I could never truly experience in my childhood. I used to pretend that I was Princess Jasmine from Aladdin and would sing my heart out to my make-believe Prince, hoping that someday I could be as beautiful as she was to me. To me, Princess Jasmine was black and someone I wanted to be, because I had never seen anything closer to myself represented in Disney to that point. In fact, by the time there was a black Disney princess, I was already an adult.

After the presentations were finished, we ventured into the park and were able to experience the ‘magic’ of Disney. I must admit that the work in the park was amazing. Every detail had been considered, every nail hammered in, and the imagination of the people at the lab in Glendale sat sprawled in front of me. I had an opportunity to get closer to my Topping family and spent the day taking pictures, riding attractions, and looking in the gift shops at all of the Disney merchandise. We had a great time together and had some very interesting conversations about race, our communities, and our positions in society as first generation college students at a private elite institution compared with those who do not attend a private college. We contrasted these conversations with our observations of the patrons of the park. I felt remis that these memories were insulated within the experiences of those who could afford it, and would never be available to those who could not. As a money-making machine, Disney is definitely a raging success. As an instructor of racial difference, and a media powerhouse, however, I am still waiting to see some more progressive renderings of people of color in their programing, attractions, and management.

May 16, 2012

Student Reflections – May 16

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The Buddhist priests demonstrated a chant for us.

By Ant’Quinette Jackson

Today we visited Little Tokyo to see a Buddhist temple and the Japanese American National History Museum. We also received an etiquette session in Japanese mannerisms and culture and spoke with the Consul General of Japan. But I will speak about the first half our day.

Professor Duncan Williams taught us about Japanese spirituality.

Getting to see a temple where Japanese people worship was interesting. I found it intriguing how the temple was Americanized with pews like a Christian church (which is not typical of a temple). As we listened to one of the monks chant, the sounds were music to my ears and I found it to be very relaxing and calming. I’m not quite sure if this is the effect they wanted their chants to have but I was pleasantly soothed by the chanting. After leaving the temple, we went to the Japanese American National History Museum to get a mini-history lesson packed into a little over an hour. The greatest part of being at the museum was the final exhibit in which Japanese Americans had a wall full of statements that identified Japanese Americans culturally. For example one statement said “Ways to tell if you’re Japanese… If you know Benihana and Yoshinoya are not real Japanese food.” I thought these statements were really funny and that no matter what ethnic group you identify with, there are always characterizations of your culture. Some people may have thought it was racist or stereotypical, but as a group of people, you are bound to have commonalities that help to group you into a particular category.

Bill Shishima spoke of his internment experience while giving us a tour of Little Tokyo.

Altogether, today was very informative and a great learning experience. We were able to learn more in depth about the Japanese interment camps during WWII and the information was far more than what I had learned in US History in high school.

Waiting for the train.

We traveled in pods just like we will in Japan.

By Kim Vu

At the Japanese American National Museum we were able to meet with Ms. Maki Isoyama from the Japan Foundation, who was gracious enough to comfort us in saying that we do not need to be afraid of the different etiquette practices in Japan!  She taught us that many of the manners are the same (such as not chewing with your mouth open or talking with your mouth full) while a few others are different (such as it being okay to slurp hot soups and drinks or not sticking your chopsticks straight up into your rice).  I learned a lot and got her business card while we all practiced bowing when meeting Japanese people as well as when giving gifts or business cards.

Consul General Niimi, Consul Wajima and Jennifer Usyak are honorary Trojans.

Some are nervous they are going to starve in Japan with smaller portions.

It was my first time when we rode the Angels Flight up the hill to visit the office of the Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles.  We were warmly welcomed and the three representatives from the office were eager to get to know us and about what we will be doing in Japan.  Apparently, we will be visiting Consul General Niimi’s hometown of Yokohama.  We were also told by Consul General that in a survey asking the Japanese about their affinity for other countries, the US typically comes out in first, but last year we were #1 with 82% of the survey participants with affinity for the US.  The 2nd and 3rd most-liked countries were at 62% and 61%.  I was glad and excited to hear that.

Some had never been on Angel’s Flight even though they lived in LA their whole life.

May 15, 2012

Student Reflections – May 15

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The final stop of today’s adventure was Toyota’s National Headquarters main building.

By David Cortes

After spending time at Toyota Logistics Services in Long Beach and visiting Terminal Island, we stopped at the Mitsuwa Marketplace in Gardena. It was a Japanese market with a food court inside.  Many of us did not have an idea of what to order because it was food that we were not used to seeing. Eventually, we all ended getting a variety of items ranging from Ramen to traditional Japanese food. It was also the first time that all of us attempted to eat while using chopsticks, which is a big part of Japanese culture when eating food. Dr. Sanchez made it clear that we were going to learn how to use them by the time we arrived at Japan. Moreover, he mentioned that we were going to practice by picking up M & M’s on the plane in order to learn how to use chop sticks effectively.

We were given some time to purchase traditional Japanese snacks after lunch in order to try new things. Felipe shared thin cookies that had chocolate inside of them, which was delicious and a great compliment to the lunch that we had. The overall experience at the Mitsuwa Marketplace was amazing because we had an opportunity to get a taste of what to expect once we leave for Japan this Saturday.

Students practiced eating with chopsticks during lunch to prepare for Japan.

Dr. Sanchez promised students they would be pros by the time they returned.

By Eric Ochoa

Today we visited the national headquarters of Toyota Motor Sales in Torrance, CA and it was an enlightening experience considering I have grown up my entire life in Torrance and have always driven by the headquarters without knowing what was inside. We received 2 presentations from James Colon, the Vice President of Product Communication, as well as Kiki Rice, the College Relations Manager. James Colon’s presentation focused on the business aspect and Toyota’s relationships with its dealerships and sort of gave us an overview of how they have managed to stay a successful company for so long.

James Colon, VP of Toyota Product Communications, shared Toyota’s recipe for success with the students.

Kiki Rice, College Relations Manager, gave helpful tips for acquiring any coveted internship or job.

This really helped show us where there were differences between Toyota’s business model and their American competitors. It was eye-opening to see how much really goes on behind the scenes in the automobile industry and how everything from the dealerships to the Toyota Company is connected. After Colon’s presentation Kiki Rice gave another one that focused more on recruitment and the kinds of jobs that Toyota Motor Sales has to offer and she offered great advice on how to stand out from other applicants during the whole application process. This was extremely useful since I am an engineering major and one of the most crucial aspects of my undergraduate career is getting internships and communicating with employers so this was great advice. It will be interesting to visit the Corolla plant in Japan and get a glimpse into how Toyota runs their business from the beginning of the process. Being introduced to all of the technical aspects of the automotive industry really helped solidify my interest in the industry and helped motivate me to continue down the path I am currently following; having grown up in Torrance, I never realized how important location was for the success of the these companies. It fascinates me that I’ve lived so close to this for so long and never knew about it until now.

In Long Beach, students watched Toyota employees add accessories to cars shipped over from Japan.

Audie Freeman, the National Logistics Manager, amazed students with the number of cars that go through the Vehicle Distribution Center.

By Raul Alcantar

As we continue in our preparatory journey to Japan, we visited the Vehicle Distribution Center at Toyota Logistic Services (TLS).  The VDC is located at the Port of Long Beach, which is one of the major ports on the West Coast, bringing in thousands of shipments everyday.  Goods are imported from countries like Japan and China, which range from toys to vehicles and almost any other object that we use in our everyday life.  Audie Freedman, the National Logistics Manager, gave us a presentation on how this branch of the company functions and how it is structured.

Students were excited to see the new two-door model debuting at the end of the month.

He also gave us a tour of the VDC, at one point showing us the Lexus LFA, a sports car worth over $400,000.  It was interesting to see the company in action after reading about Japanese philosophy when it comes to the workplace.  For instance, the Japanese are known for the emphasis they place on detail and respect in any kind of job.  At TLS, we witnessed how much attention they pay to every little detail when they import cars from Japan, processing every adjustment, repair, or damage.  Furthermore, Freedman also pointed out that the youngest employee at TLS had been working there for over six years, demonstrating that the loyalty mentality of the Japanese translates well into the American workforce.  Today was a very exciting day and we can’t wait to see what Toyota in Japan has to show us.  The adventure has only begun.

Kim Vu and the rest of the group eagerly posed next to a Lexus LFA with a $400, 000 price tag.

Johanna Becerra didn’t pass up the chance.

Eric Ochoa, the group’s mechanical engineering major and car-lover, might have been the happiest person of the day!

By Shay Washington

On the first day of the Summer Immersion Program, we watched a video about a community on the Southern California coast that was removed by the federal government. Terminal Island in Long Beach, now the biggest port industry in the United States, was once populated by Japanese immigrants and citizens prior to the 1940s. Arriving with skills as fisherman, the Japanese settled on the coast to continue making a livelihood the best way they knew how. Over the years, the Japanese men worked hard and built a community for the women and children where they fused Japanese and American culture. Baseball fields coexisted with Shinto Shrines and the Japanese began to speak a sort of “Janglish,” a combination of their former and new language. The former residents were very nostalgic about their life on Terminal Island.

Students watched a documentary about Terminal Island the day before they visited the memorial.

The former inhabitants described it as a place where children could play without supervision, neighbors were considered family members, and the community worked as a unit. All of this changed however the day Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. The federal government named the Japanese citizens “aliens” and “spies.” Within two months after the bombing, all the Japanese residents of Pearl Harbor were relocated to internment camps in Manzanar. While they were gone, their whole community was leveled, leaving no evidence of their former existence. Today we had the opportunity to visit the former site where a small memorial now exists in remembrance of the people who once lived there. When we watched the video, we heard stories from the former residents of Terminal Island about how happy and blissful their lives were before they were uprooted so it touched me when I visited the site to see how the community had vanished. I saw photos at the site and read more about the people who once lived there. As a native of Los Angeles, I would have never known about this community before SIP Japan. I’ve driven through Terminal Island a few times but I wouldn’t have possibly known this memorial exists. Now I plan to encourage my friends and family to visit the small site and learn more about the lost community of Americans.

May 14, 2012

Student Reflections – May 14

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By Rubi Garcia

The countdown to Japan starts now! I cannot believe that in 5 days, I will finally be on my way to Japan! I’ve been looking forward to this trip since last year, but it still hasn’t hit me that I’ll be leaving pretty soon. I won’t deny that by this point in time, I feel both nostalgia and excitement about leaving the country. After today’s introductory course, however, my excitement increased much more—making me forget about some of the fears I have. What excited me the most from today’s lesson was speaking in Japanese. I never thought I would be talking in a language other than Spanish or English, and hearing myself speaking in an unfamiliar language, was extremely exciting. As the lessons continued, I thought that Dr. Sanchez’s presentation on Disneyland was quite interesting. I consider myself to be a huge Disneyland fan, which is why I was pretty surprised when Dr. Sanchez pointed out some of the things I had never noticed before about the theme park. When he broke down each of the “towns” from Disneyland and told us about their racial implications, it all made sense! I could not believe that I had not been fully observant to come up with some of these conclusions myself. (But at least now I know that I have to be extremely observant for my own research!) I can definitely say that my perspective about Disneyland changed from the discussion that we had. I cannot wait to go to Tokyo’s Disneyland to compare the two theme parks from one another.

SIP Advisor Nadia Kanagawa teaches students some basic phrases in Japanese.

Students listen to Dr. Sanchez discuss the internment of Japanese Americans.

 

By Jasmine Torres

Wow.  Today was a big shocker with all the information I received about our trip. Literally it was a breakdown of every day (including exact times) for the whole entire trip. I see NTSAF is leaving nothing to chance. Haha. All the information being thrown at me made me take in a HUGE breath. I can already tell I am going to be doing a lot of walking. However, I am most interested in what Dr. Sanchez  said about the place called “Americanland” in Japan. I think it is important to understand how the Japanese see our country. Although I am of Salvadoran descent through my family’s birthplace and their culture, I do not culturally consider myself Salvadoran. I have never been to El Salvador and do not participate in any Salvadoran traditions. I cannot cook Salvadoran food and I learned Spanish when I was 9. Even now my Spanish is broken because there is no one I speak Spanish to. So although I am “brown,” and appreciate being from an immigrant family, I was raised here in the U.S and think differently from the people who are my immediate relatives. So I am excited to see what (if at all) the Japanese people think about diversity in the United States both as far as different phenotypes, ethnicities, religion, nationalities, and culture. In Japan, when people ask me, “What are you? Where are you from?” I will have more of an inclination to honestly answer where I am from and not where my mother was born and immigrated from. I can say, “I am American. I am from America.” And I would feel rooted to that answer of being American; specifically tell them I am from Los Angeles because it is the place I call home.

Jessica Guevara and Eric Ochoa listen to Dr. Sanchez discuss Disney and difference.

SIP Advisor Mike Mazon discusses Japanese architecture.

 

By Jessica Guevara

The first day of the Summer Immersion Program brought the students and staff together for the first time in the Los Angeles intensive week. We had the opportunity to learn more about the research and work that Nadia Kanagawa, Priscilla Leiva and Mike Mazon are involved with. Dr. Sanchez and the speakers above lectured about Japanese history, introduction to the Japanese language, and even the history of Disneyland Corporation. I learned many new facts in Japanese history that strike me. Dr. Sanchez revealed that United States occupied Japan during World War II and influenced Japanese history. To start off the Japanese Post War Constitution written in 1947 was a written surrender from Japan to the Allied Powers. It was the first time the Japanese people had heard the emperor’s voice and it was to communicate the surrender. America had once again change the course of history of another country and even shaped the language of the Japanese constitution in order to maintain control over the Japan. For example, the language in the constitution includes a strict policy, which constrained Japan from ever having there own military. Much of the day was about learning knew things about Japan that the class did not know. It was one of the few formal classroom meetings in the upcoming weeks, but set the tone for what we all can expect from the trip. I am extremely excited to participate in this week’s programs and I am only expecting to gain a wealth of knowledge through each experience.

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