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Study Abroad - From WASEDA to the world -

From Waseda to Taiwan

Ms.Yumi Masuda
3rd year Student of the School of International Liberal Studies

Her First Encounter with China Was in the United States

Ms. Masuda was not only active in the Waseda dance club, but also helped with the choreography of the dance portions of the Waseda Festival. As a high school student, Ms. Masuda spent one year studying abroad at a high school in the United States. There, she came to know the wonder of Chinese while studying it as part of a second foreign-language curriculum. After entering Waseda University, Ms. Masuda still couldn't shake her desire to spend some time studying the Chinese language in a Chinese-language environment, so she eventually decided to participate in a yearlong exchange program with Taiwan Normal University from the summer of her second year at Waseda. Taiwan Normal University, which boasts a thriving Chinese-language education program, is also home to the Center of Chinese Language and Culture (CCLC), Taiwan's preeminent language research center. Blessed with the finest language lessons and instructors, Ms. Masuda was able to study Chinese to her heart's content.

Aiming for Assimilation into Local Taiwanese Society

One of Ms. Masuda's primary goals during her study-abroad sojourn in Taiwan was to thoroughly integrate herself into the lifestyle of a local Taiwanese person. Although the large number of foreign students at CCLC lent the institution an international atmosphere, Ms. Masuda was unable to meet any Taiwanese students. Feeling thus dissatisfied with taking only CCLC courses, Ms. Masuda also sat in on more than twenty hours a week of regular university classes. In addition to all this studying, she formed a campus dance club and practiced with her fellow club members twice every week; at a university event, Ms. Masuda and her fellow dancers performed a 'Thousand-Armed Avalokiteshvara Dance' that they had all practiced together. She also organized a hip-hop and breakdance group, which went on to take the prize money at another campus event. Through immersing herself in Taiwanese society, Ms. Masuda cultivated friendships with Taiwanese students that will last a lifetime.

Distress over Taiwan's One-Sided Love Affair with Japan

'Taiwan was once a Japanese-controlled colony for nearly fifty years,' Ms. Masuda explains, 'yet despite our troubled history the Taiwanese people are receptive to Japanese culture, and look to Japan as a model in many aspects of their lives. It made me ask myself why the Japanese people were so uninterested in Taiwan, when the Taiwanese people are so very interested in Japan.' She remembers the surprise she felt when an acquaintance asked her whether Taiwan and Thailand were two different countries.

'I don't want Taiwan to carry on its one-sided love affair with Japan any longer,' Ms. Masuda relates. 'I want the people of Japan to be aware not only of the goodwill of the Taiwanese people towards Japan, but also of Taiwan's rich natural beauty and the complex history that we share.'

After returning home, Ms. Masuda has participated in many exchange activities between Taiwan and Japan. She is enthusiastic about promoting Taiwan back in her native country. From hosting Taiwan-themed parties for her friends and neighbors to working at the 'Taiwan Corner' at Waseda University's Study Abroad Fair (held on October 4th, 2008), Ms. Masuda is a tireless proponent of introducing her fellow university students to the attractions of studying in Taiwan. 'I want to be a member of the international community, able to converse in English, Chinese and Japanese!', Ms. Masuda enthuses. We expect that the day is not far off when she steps onto the wider international stage to make her mark.

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)