<Date> from Wednesday June 16th to Tuesday August 24th, 2010
<Participants> 114 fellows in the JSPS Summer Program
On June 16th, 2010, 114 young researchers from the USA, the UK, France, Germany and Canada came to Japan to participate in the JSPS Summer Program 2010. Though it was raining in the morning, as soon as the fellows arrived in Hayama to attend the orientation program, the sun came out from behind the clouds and turned into a beautiful blue sky as if cheering on the fellows for their stay in Japan.
On the first day, the Opening Ceremony started with an Address from Dr. Takahata. We had some guests from NSF, British Council, CNRS, DAAD and the Canadian Embassy at the Ceremony. In the evening, many fellows enjoyed Japanese cuisine and in particular they were excited to take photographs of a huge Tuna head dish at the Welcome reception. The fellows enjoyed not only tasty food but also the interaction between host researchers, Japanese students who participated in the SOKENDAI lecture, and fellows in various research fields and multi culture.
On the second day, we had two Special Lectures. Professor Hisao BABA , National Museum of Nature and Science gave a lecture on "Human Evolution: Process of Adaptations and Dispersals". Associate Professor Kenji ITO, SOKENDAI gave a lecture on "Science and Technology in Japanese Historical, Social, and Cultural Perspectives"
During this orientation program, the fellows attended Japanese language classes and a Poster Presentation in which SOKENDAI students also joined. Additionally, they had cultural experiences such as a tea ceremony, calligraphy and folding paper crafts, coupled with a two-night home stay with a Japanese family on the weekend.
On the last day, Professor Masateru ANDO, Tokyo University of the Arts, gave a lecture on the history and technique of Japanese traditional music and Instruments such as Koto, Shamisen and Shakuhachi. The fellows enjoyed his lecture and Live Music Concert performed by Professor ANDO and his students. The beautiful Japanese melodies struck a chord in the hearts of the fellows and the entire audience rose to its feet and gave them thunderous applause at the conclusion of the performance.
After a one-week orientation finished, they dispersed to their host institutes/organizations nationwide for two months of research activities.
After two months of research at their respective host institutes, on August 24th, the fellows gathered again at Shinagawa to attend the Research Report Presentation and Farewell Party.
At the Research Report Presentation, six representative fellows selected by each Nominating Authority made presentations about their research and achievements in Japan. One of the fellows who stayed in Hokkaido reported on Amamo (sea grass) and some who stayed in the Kansai area detailed their research in Ergonomics and Biology fields.
After the presentation, each Nominating Authority presented the Certificates of Completion to the fellows, which are the first Certificates jointly issued by JSPS and SOKENDAI.
Thereafter some host researchers and host families also joined in the Farewell Party, bringing the total number of attendees to about 370, which made the party even more magnificent. As soon as the fellows found their host researchers, host families and other fellows, they shook hands and embraced each other at the Party and kept talking about their experiences in Japan, which showed that, in addition to their research achievements, the fellows have also reaped plenty of other fruit from this program.
As a SOKENDAI staff participating in this Summer Program, it was so good to see that most of fellows had acquired confidence in their research and also extended their skills and abilities whilst living and working in an international environment. This directly points to the success and importance of this program.
The followings are messages from a few fellows of JSPS Summer Program.
I thought the orientation was well-executed and highly valuable. The cultural presentations were excellent. I particularly enjoyed the musical presentation on the history, technique, and performance of the koto and other traditional Japanese instruments. The welcome party was very nice with excellent food and drink, and the food throughout the orientation was uniformly good. The scientific lectures were interesting as well. I have mixed feelings about the language classes. I am not certain that they were necessary for interacting with my Japanese colleagues. Scientific discussion was in English. When I spoke to my colleagues in Japanese, they always responded in English. I found this disappointing because I had worked very hard to learn some Japanese. However, I found it very useful to speak some Japanese while on my own in Japan. I also felt that understanding the language helped me to better understand Japanese culture.
I was most impressed by how friendly and helpful my Japanese colleagues have been. They have been so willing and ready to help me at every point of my stay. Although I had to change my research methodology due to scheduling issues with the equipment, I was lucky and successfully found a Zen Buddhist monk test subject to participate in my study.
The atmosphere that I experienced at the Japanese laboratory I quite different than what I know from my home institute. The community formed by the students seems to have much stronger bonds than in Germany. I feel that Japanese students are much
more enthusiastic about their research. They work hard and long but on the other hand they use the institute also for activities outside of work (Tennis, Table tennis) and thus make this place also partially their home. This is not the case in my laboratory in Germany.
There, the office space is supposed to serve for work only. I enjoyed my stay in the host laboratory a lot and hope that I can return one day to see many of the friends I made.