West Meets East at Waseda
April 04, 2008
Gearing up for the fall 2007 semester at Waseda University in Toyko, Stacy Abrams browsed the aisles of the bustling campus co-op, looking for notebooks.
“Two random Waseda girls came up to me, asked if I was an international exchange student, and immediately struck up a conversation,” says Abrams. The chance encounter eventually led to a dinner invitation as well as a hiking trip to Mount Tsukuba.
“I was amazed by their kindness and the way they genuinely seemed to want to know me,” she says. “Because of them, my circle of Japanese friends continues to grow.”
Lewis & Clark and Waseda, one of Japan’s premier universities, have shared a mutually supportive relationship since the early 1990s. Previously, Waseda has sent dozens of its students to Lewis & Clark. But now, for the first time, Lewis & Clark is sending its own students to Waseda (specifically, Waseda University’s School of International Liberal Studies).
“The exchange program is designed to create linguistically functional and internationally oriented graduates,” says Bruce Suttmeier, assistant professor of Japanese and an advocate of the program. “In some ways, we’re spoiling Waseda by sending Stacy and Nick as our first representatives–they’re fantastic, highly motivated students.”
Abrams is majoring in East Asian studies and Nick Kaufmann in sociology/anthropology. Both juniors, Abrams and Kaufmann completed the requisite first semester of third-year Japanese before leaving campus, and have committed to an entire academic year abroad. At Waseda, they’re each taking 18 to 19 credits of Japanese and liberal studies courses.
“In class and out, I’m gradually being exposed to a different Tokyo than the short-term spectacle many visitors experience,” Kaufmann says.
He’s also learning more about home.
While attending a local coming-of-age ceremony held for 20-year-olds in Japan, he had a chance to talk with the mayor of Shinjuku and was surprised to learn that her daughter had studied at Lewis & Clark.
“I never realized just how international our school is,” he says.