Summary of Experience:
I had two main motivations for going on the East Asia Practicum. One was to get practical research experience and to build off of it to complete my final paper for the East Asia Seminar course. The other was to better frame my understanding of international policy and exchange between the nations of Northeast Asia. Meeting with scholars of trade, security, and international education, I learned a lot about the complicated historical and contemporary socio and geopolitical landscape of the region. While I was focusing on completing my research while I was in Tokyo and Beijing, the most formative experiences were simply listening to specialists’ lectures and talking about their opinions of contemporary issues in Asia and seeing sites that are historically charged in Tokyo and Beijing respectively. Especially in Yasukuni Shrine, the site where class A war criminals from World War 2 are enshrined, and at Tiananmen Square, I was able to understand the sociopolitical context that has made these sites so relevant to regional issues. Because of conflicting histories promulgated in the northeast Asian region, going to historical sites and being able to see how others interact with space was, in and of itself, a study in qualitative research. In the end, it was these experiences that impacted my time on the trip the most and drove the direction of my research that I am currently building upon for my final paper.
Early Spring Blossoms at Ikebukuro’s Gokokuji Temple, Tokyo, Japan.