Alexander Thompson was a student at the Janesville Academy for International Studies in Janesville, Wisconsin. He participated in the 2013 CIF project, and attributes his work there as some of the most important he has ever done in terms of his career and college path.
Alex believes that he gained an incredibly unique and personal insight through a variety of topics in the field of nuclear disarmament, most of which were in relation to the Japanese experience of the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Through the CIF project, he learned the effects of the use of nuclear weapons against civilians in those two cities. The Japanese students he met had families and friends who had been effected by the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; hearing their stories profoundly affected Alex. Global security and disarmament became strong focuses in his life following his participation in CIF.
Furthermore, the CIF conference sparked a new passion for Japan within him. Its culture, its language, its history, and even contemporary issues were all extremely interesting to him. So much so that he decided during his freshman year at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to double major in Global Studies and Japanese. Three years later, he is now a junior who is heavily involved in his university’s Japanese program. Alex is also employed as an Undergraduate Research Assistant for the Japanese language. He works as a volunteer at a Japanese immersion school outside of Milwaukee, and hopes to study abroad in Nagoya, Chiba, or Osaka. All of which, in great part, he attributes to the CIF project.
Alex says if it wasn’t for CIF, perhaps he never would have discovered his interest in learning Japanese, or even his desire to become a globally-minded citizen. He believes the program has influenced his career path immensely, from fostering friendships with Japanese students to influencing his passion for intercultural communication. For Alex, the “ah-ha!” moment in his life was participating in CIF. Naturally, his future plan is to work in the field to enhance the U.S.-Japan relationship, especially these two countries’ cooperation for peace and security in a world free of nuclear weapons.
The CIF project gave Alex the opportunity to act as a youth leader in world peace and security while fostering lifetime friendships with students from another country. He strongly recommends the experience to other students, as it changed both his worldview and his life.