On Wednesday, June 15, 2016, 115 young predoctoral and postdoctoral researchers (fellows) from overseas participated in the two-month JSPS Summer Program 2016. The fellows came to Japan from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada, and Sweden.
The chartered buses from Narita arrived at Shonan Village Center late due to traffic causing the opening ceremony to begin a half hour late from the schedule.
The opening ceremony began with a welcome address by JSPS Executive Director Takaaki Iwasa and SOKENDAI President Yasunobu Okada. It was graced by the presence of distinguished guests, including the representatives of the National Science Foundation (NSF), British Council Japan, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD), and the Canadian Embassy in Japan.
On the second day, on June 16, the first special lecture was delivered by Prof. Satoshi Iso from the Department of Particle and Nuclear Physics at the School of High Energy Accelerator Science. Prof. Iso's lecture was titled "Higgs and Nambu: Beyond the Particle Physics." The fellows found his lecture extremely interesting, which led to a lively question-and-answer session afterward.
After the special lecture, a group discussion was carried out. It was chaired by 14 faculty professors from various field. Aside from the fellows, it was attended enthusiastically by 12 students of various backgrounds from SOKENDAI.
The poster session in the afternoon of June 17 was also attended by students and professors from SOKENDAI. As it was among the most popular sessions, it was extended by 30 minutes this year. The attendees had lively discussions on each of the research topics presented at the session.
The fellows enjoyed the pleasant weather and break from the rain during the weekend, from June 18 to 19. Special memories were created during their homestay with local families. They went on leisure trips, such as visiting the Odawara Castle, seeing the Great Buddha in Kamakura City, fishing, and going to a concert.
In the post-homestay-program survey, the fellows expressed their gratitude and satisfaction to their host families. They said that the homestay experience is among the interesting parts of SOKENDAI's orientation program.
On June 20, Dr. Masateru Ando, a former professor at Tokyo University of the Arts, delivered a lecture on and showcased traditional Japanese music. Dr. Ando explained Japan's traditional musical instruments and played six songs on koto, shakuhachi, shamisen, and the 17-stringed koto. The fellows listened carefully to the lecture and musical performance. After the musical performance, they were given an opportunity to try the musical instruments, and they lined up to try to make a sound on the koto, shamisen, and shakuhachi.
After the fellows completed the one-week program, they travelled to their host institutions located across the country to conduct their research activities for two months. The organizers aimed that the JSPS summer program 2016 would be valuable to the fellows and promotes the internationalization of academic exchange in Japan.
After the fellows' two-month research activities at their respective host institutions, they gathered in Kudanshita in Tokyo on August 23 to attend the research report presentation and farewell party.
All fellows were able to attend the event, even though a number of them experienced difficulties in coming to Tokyo because of the powerful typhoon that attacked the main island on August 22.
The seven representatives selected from the nominating authorities in each country presented their research achievements as well as their life and cultural experiences in Japan. Several professors from the fellows' host institutions also participated. The fellows engaged enthusiastically in an intellectual exchange beyond their own research areas during the event.
After the presentation, each representative of the nominating authorities, who were impressed with the fellows, presented the Certificates of Completion.
The presentation was followed by a farewell party, which was attended by over 170 participants and 20 researchers from host institutions around the country, including Dr. Ando who had given a lecture and a koto performance during the orientation program. Dr. Richard Taylor, a JSPS postdoctoral researcher at the University of Tokyo and a JSPS summer program participant in 2014, delivered a speech that covered various topics, which were of interest to the fellows
Many fellows and SOKENDAI students discussed their research activities and life experiences in Japan actively and recognized the significance of this program.
Japanese language classes helped me a lot during my stay in Japan. I stayed in a small city where few people speak English. Thanks to the classes and the books we received, I could interact with Japanese people and, at times, understand them.I think the homestay was the best part of the program. Within these three days, I am immersed completely into the Japanese culture. They showed and explained me a lot of habits that helped me understand the Japanese culture. It was a great experience!
I was very impressed by the quality and the organization of the program. JSPS planned everything to be able to receive us in the best condition, and did a lot for us to feel comfortable. JSPS gave me this opportunity to live wonderful two months in a fantastic country. I really enjoyed everything in Japan: food, art, people, culture, and habits. This country is completely different from Western countries, but I strongly advice people to visit it. It is really worth it. Japan deserves to be known worldwide. JSPS received us in the best condition possible
Conducting research in the field of biology is a long process. When I arrived, it was the beginning of the project, with few preliminary data. During these two months, I could move on the project even if we had to deal with technical issues. Anyway, I learned a lot of new techniques, and I gained new insights in my field of expertise.