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Study Abroad - From the world to WASEDA -

From German to Waseda

Ms. Maya Hatsukano
Intensive Japanese Language Program (completed March, 2009)

Complicated identity

Ms. Maya Hatsukano, a foreign exchange student from the Philipps University of Marburg, is the owner of a multiple identity inherited from her Japanese father and her Welsh mother. Both her father and mother were violinists, and the couple moved to Germany to pursue their musical career. As a result, Ms. Hatsukano was born and raised in central Germany. She possesses a complicated background with links to Japan, England, and Germany. However, Ms. Hatsukano recalled her feelings before studying abroad in Japan as follows: "I am really a true German. In a sense, I may also be a 'Japanese', but I initially felt uncomfortable with Japanese customs and values, as well as the wording of the honorific expressions used in the Japanese language."

Working in activities to promote the internationalization of Sumida Ward!

Two weeks after the start of her study in Japan, Ms. Hatsukano participated in the community management seminar taught by Professor Shinichi Tomonari. Under the slogan of "bringing energy to Sumida", the seminar sought to advance in community development in the Sumida Ward. As part of the seminar, Ms. Hatsukano was affiliated with an "International Team" that conducted grass-root activities to promote internationalization of the community. At the beginning of her foreign study, Ms. Hatsukano had trouble adjusting to her lifestyle in Tokyo and was uneasy most of the time. However, through the activities of the seminar, she cooperated with other project members and community members, working diligently to promote community activities. "Under the motto of 'bringing energy to Sumida', the 'International Team' worked in a group of 4 to 7 foreign exchange students in order to conduct volunteer activities such as the planning and operation of events. For example, we cooperated with the local Center for Small & Medium-Sized Business in order to promote a plan named 'Go Visit a Company'. This plan consisted of foreign exchange students accompanying local elementary school students on visits to small and medium-sized businesses. We also performed activities such as the creation of eco-friendly shopping bags." Furthermore, students sometimes conducted interviews with the government staff of Sumida Ward in regards to the internationalization of the ward, and also participated in a debate with Ward Mayor Noboru Yamazaki.

"My fondest memory is the event that was held at Oshiage Elementary School. Foreign exchange students were at the center of planning and operation for the event." The city atmosphere and history of Marburg were introduced at the event, and cultural exchange was held with more than 100 3rd grade elementary students through teaching how to count in German and playing games. "The event was a great success! I never thought that the elementary students would show such great interest in my country!" said Ms. Hatsukano, smiling as she recalled the success of the event.

Striving for a society that moves beyond "exchange" to "coexistence"

Ms. Hatsukano recalled her activities during foreign study by saying that "I was quite nervous at the beginning of my foreign study. However, I was able to understand the majority of Japanese culture through natural interactions with people. It is important to move beyond mere 'exchange' between people who possess different backgrounds. We must realize a society which allows for people to 'coexist'!" Ms. Hatsukano is currently writing her bachelor's thesis based on the research theme of "A Comparison of Foreign Policy in Japan and Germany". She also has a clear goal for her future: "I would like to work at an internationally influential institution while focusing on political movements in Germany and Japan!" In the future, it is certain that Ms. Hatsukano will be active in a variety of arenas and that she will fully utilize the experience she gained while studying at Waseda and conducting activities in Sumida Ward.

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)