Special Contents

Interview with the Sakura Scholars​ (AY2019)

VOGEL Spencer (AU Home)
Learning Japanese Culture in All Ways to Bridge the US and Japan

Why did you choose the JDP?

-Encounter with Japan

There are a couple of reasons. I used to enjoy learning about Japan in my middle school. The country was quite unknown to me, and I wanted to go there someday. Then I had a chance to travel to Japan when I was fourteen years old, visiting Tokyo and Hakone. It was a fascinating experience and I fell in love with Japan.

After my travel in Japan, I moved from Washington, DC where I had grown up to Houston, Texas. There I got to see many Japanese corporations relocating their factories. I myself did a bit of work with Japan-America Society of Houston when I was fifteen.

These experiences have made me focus more on international business, particularly working between the US and Japan. I thought knowing Japanese culture would be very important.

What was your first impression of RU?

-Similarity and Difference

What first surprised me at RU was that the atmosphere at RU is very similar to AU. It should have been expected, as people of my age are same anywhere in the world, nice and friendly. Everyone I talk to at RU is welcoming and helps me a lot.

The way students work is very different. I do more homework at RU than at AU. At AU, we mainly work in classes and have a lot of study sessions with professors.

Like RU, classes at AU are oriented for lectures, introducing new information and practicing outside. I like discussion aspects at both schools. In case of Japanese classes at RU, I find myself learning new information outside and practicing in classes.

-Building Mentorship Between Students

A very good thing about the JDP’s cohort system is that it can build face to face connections between students at both schools. Last year Brencis Kim, a first RU Home Student came by AU and told us what RU is like. RU faculties also visited us before we came to RU.

I found this exchange very helpful and important. It puts a face on the school you are going to, and you can see who you are going to meet. I like the idea because it can build a kind of mentorship between students in the future. I’d like to share my experiences both at AU and RU to new students.

What do you want to accomplish at RU?

-Master Real Japanese

The biggest thing for me is giving myself any opportunities possible to interact with Japanese people in professional, educational, business and even casual occasions. In Japan, there are implicit rules of communications, which is very different from the US. By my final year at RU, I hope I will be able to get these down

Also, I have recently joined the RU boxing team. It is really good Japanese practice because they don’t speak any English! I need to talk to my coach (shown left in the photo below) politely while chatting with my teammates casually.

-Be a scholar-athlete! Joining the boxing team

It’s a funny story. In Japan university clubs and circles are different. But in the US, they are equivalent, and I thought RU’s boxing club was for doing recreational sports. It was only after I joined the club that I realized we are competing against other universities!

The boxing team was very welcoming when I first arrived. I appreciate how considerate they always are to me. We meet four times a week, it’s a lot of practice, but it’s been a lot of fun! Hopefully I can make a debut in senior competitions in the next semester.

What do you want to do in the future and how do you situate your studies in the JDP?

-Bridging between the US and Japan

Some students have set what they want to do in the future when they start their studies at universities, but I didn't necessarily share their set plans. The first year was very helpful for forming what I want to do. Then studying international relations has been pushing my interest towards the business sector. Now my goal is to work for a Japanese company in the US.


Interviewed by Hajime Akiyama, JDP Program Coordinator (shown left above)

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