Crossing Cultures

Class Introduction – From the Students –

State Formation in Southeast Asia

Teacher: Yasushi SADAYOSHI

This class deals with the formation of Southeast Asian nations, their distinctive traits, and the process by which they were formed, as well as the background throughout the years that led to this. Southeast Asia has received a great deal of outside influence over the years that has culminated into its “present”; something which this class impressed on me quite strongly. One of the greatest impressions this class made on me was its ability to pose things we took for granted as questions. For instance, one of our assignments was “what is a nation?” There are no doubt many answers, but what I felt most of all here was the importance of your own thoughts on the matter. The necessity for each student to think for themselves rather than simply listening might be the greatest trait of this class. To be honest, when I first entered university, I had no interest in the countries of Southeast Asia, only in North America and Europe, and this is probably not a rare sentiment. Thinking back, though, this is a shame, and I consider myself lucky for getting a chance to learn about Southeast Asia in this university. Looking into areas you have no interest in might seem like a waste of time, but it may well introduce you to something you never knew before.

(Mane Horiguchi – Class 16)

Media and Cultural Studies

Teacher: Hiroki OGASAWARA

Have you ever wondered about what might go on behind, for example, a sports report? Even these ordinary things have all sorts of complex code behind them, out of sight. Eventually, as you fit each piece together like a jigsaw puzzle, words, pictures, the size and color of both, and other elements all come together as one block of information and meaning that follows a strict set of mental rules. You could say that headlines, photographs and the content of the article form their own unique worldview. But is it one that should be taken for granted? These are the questions that the class made me consider. The theme and content changed every year, but every time, the goal was the same: Examining the code below the surface that creates this worldview. Take, for instance, the 2009 class on the connection between sports and media. In relation to a certain sports journalist’s book, one of the first questions was “why are sports papers considered ‘old man-like’?” It wasn’t an easy question, of course. Ideas like this are often difficult to put into words properly, and I couldn’t think of many reasons, but I was still sure that this was the case. In short, this course taught me to re-examine old, settled viewpoints.

(Mitsuumi Ohta – Class 16)

Specialized Exercise A

Teachers: Nobuo MIURA, Yuika KITAMURA

Specialized Exercise A is a class that takes the form of presenting your research and reading material, and debating them in a small group. Through this, I learned two things. One is the correct way to read a book. To properly grasp the contents of a book, it’s important to remember the historical and cultural context in which it was written. Through this class, I was able to learn the proper attitude with which to read a book. For example, how to decipher the author’s statement and agenda by keeping track of the book’s historical context and examining what intent any quotes and excerpts in the work were used with. The second is skill with presentations. From how to use citations and quotes properly, to use of PowerPoint and clearly stating my point, I learned a great deal of communication skills. Thanks to these, I was able to both research and present more effectively, and easily move on to Specialized Exercise B. Since this class covers many different fields, it was also an opportunity to investigate, experiment and see what fields suited me best.

(Kiichi Hirayasu – Class 17)

Specialized Exercise B

Teacher: Fumiko FUJINAMI

Professor Fujinami’s classes mostly deal with translation. This year began with reading an essay on the various effects that appear when translating, then bringing the material each student chose to examine and making a presentation.

Speaking of which, when you hear “translation,” what do you imagine? Turning a novel or essay into another language? That’s one kind, of course, but there are many other types. For example, in the latest exercise, some looked into the difference between spoken dialogue and subtitles in subtitled films, and some compared Google Translate with other forms of machine translation. Others compared Japanese picture books against those translated into English. I compared the English and Japanese version of the One Piece comics, and while examining the shapes of letters and onomatopoeia, I made many discoveries, helping me to realize that even something so familiar can have a lot of depth to it.

Translation is not limited only to words, but also includes pictures, videos, and “translation” of the mindset and culture behind the language. Did you think that translation only meant converting long, dry strings of text into another language? It’s all around us, in movies, drama, advertisements and more. Why not try to find it in something close to you?

(Tatsuya Yabuuchi – Class 16)

Basics Seminar

Teacher: Yoshiko SHIBATA

The Basics Seminar teaches skills that will be necessary for intercultural studies, such as making presentations and resumes. At first, we would read a pre-prepared piece of literature together and then discuss it, but since we all had a good understanding of the material, this would often allow for very in-depth debates and entirely different discoveries than from reading it alone. In Professor Shibata’s seminar, once we settled in a little, we would start to research whatever subject interested us and make our own presentations. The professor would always advise and review the presentation, allowing for constant improvement. And since the seminar is held with a small number of people – around ten – post-presentation debates were often very active, as well as an opportunity to hear many different opinions on your theme. Thanks to hearing the opinions of my friends, I noticed sides to an issue that I never even considered on several occasions. Currently, I am using the knowledge I gained from this seminar to research my graduation essay, on the theme of poverty and development. The faculty of international studies allows students to focus on and delve into whatever interests them most, and this seminar is a good first chance to cultivate that curiosity.

(Nami Kishida – Class 16)

Specialized Basic English

Teacher: Scholdt

Professor Scholdt’s Specialized Basic English class focuses on communicating in English as its primary goal, starting with increasing your vocabulary, and ending with debating numerous subjects with classmates or making presentations in English. In other words, the class’s focus is on learning English through use as well as study. When gathered together, Japanese will, more often than not, fall back into speaking Japanese with each other. So professor Scholdt told us “Don’t let anything slide based on the contents of your conversation. No matter how small or unimportant it might be, be sure to speak English until the end of the class.” This is, I think, one of the most innovative parts about his English classes compared to others. Of course, you might try too hard to get your point across, and depending on the content of the conversation or certain nuances, this might be too difficult, resulting in trying to use Japanese instead. In these cases, emphasis is placed on continuing the conversation rather than staying with English, which helps even the students having difficulties to avoid resenting learning the language in itself. Aside from this, I think that in future, after graduating, this class will prove extremely useful. Being able to debate and make presentations in English at work, as well as not being impatient if the need for this arises seems like the sort of advantage that’s needed as soon as possible. In that sense, I feel that this class is very beneficial in the long term.

(Ryota Asano – Class 18)

Computer Science Exercise I

Teacher: Kazuhiro Ohtsuki and others

When you enter college, there will be many more opportunities to use a computer for things like graphing data, writing reports, and making presentations. These abilities will also be useful and necessary after graduation.

One of the key traits of the Faculty of Intercultural Studies is the focus on the ability to process information at a high level beyond disciplines. Computer Science Exercise I reflects this, teaching how to operate and make use of computers. Specifically, creating high-quality documents that take layout into account; controlling spreadsheets to analyze collected data; and making effective presentations. The learning environment is well-prepared, with the ability to watch the professor performing these tasks, and assistants helping with every step.

As an approximate breakdown of the flow, the first half of the first year revolves around general, basic computer science, followed by Computer Science Exercise I in the second half. The first half of the second year is when Computer Science Exercise II begins, which teaches how to make a homepage, followed by Computer Science Exercise III, which teaches basic programming. As other information/communication-related classes often use computers, these skills are very practical.

(Kyosuke Goto – Class 17)

 


Associate Professor NAKAMURA’s exercise

A scene of a presentation
(Professor Kazunari SAKAMOTO’s class)

Professor Masaharu YASUOKA’s international communication class
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