Welcome Ceremony

Today was the welcome ceremony at Technos College. It is hard to describe how exciting and crazy this ceremony was!! We were greeted with a red carpet, upbeat music, and a crowd of cheering students waving flags! Everybody was welcoming, friendly, and happy to meet us and help us. Professor Kasson tried to videotape this ceremony, so hopefully she will be able to upload it soon.

After the ceremony, the Technos students and the representatives from all the different colleges celebrated with a party. This party was especially important because Dr. Tanaka, the man behind the Technos trip, gave an beautiful speech on the purpose of such educational exchanges. His speech reminded us that although seeing the sights of Tokyo is exciting, the most exciting part about the Technos experience is building relationships and helping one another to gain new perspectives. Establishing this international dialogue is critical to peace and understanding, and I am so happy to be learning from the wonderful students of Japan, New Zealand, Taiwan, and England.

After the party, we split up into groups to visit a shrine and go shopping. The shrine was beautiful and luckily I met many friends from Technos who were nice enough to translate the history of the shrine into English for me. It is clear that Japan has such a rich history that I cannot wait to learn more about.

All the students met up again for dinner and we ate a delicious Japanese meal! My new friends helped me learn to use chopsticks and sincerely cheered when my attempts resulted with my eating a bite of food.

Finally, we all went back to the hotel. From there, we decided to explore the streets surrounding our hotel. We found several convenient stores still opened and happily explored the aisles. I ended up buying maybe types of sweets that I have not tried before and cannot wait to eat some before bed. Tomorrow is another busy!

I would say the highlight of the first day was meeting my new friends, including a lovely girl named Emu, who arrived to pick us up at the airport. It is amazing how close everybody has become in such a short amount of time. The highlight of the second day was probably becoming closer to the other student representatives, and of course…the welcome ceremony! Technos truly treated us like royalty and it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Meeting Dr. Tanaka was another inspirational moment.

I apologize for the lack of pictures–once I find a place with WiFi I will be able to upload some from my phone. Stephen has been taking photos, so I’m sure he will upload some in his next post! Can’t wait to update you all soon!!

Lindsay

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First Night in Tokyo

We made it to Japan!!!

The flight from Chicago was incredibly long but we have finally arrived and the experience is amazing so far. The other students are very friendly and it is clear that Stephen and I will have a great time with them in the coming two weeks. I cannot wait to visit Technos College for the first time tomorrow and meet all of the students there. McKendree University received a warm welcome from representatives of the college at the airport today–we could not have asked for a better way to begin our experience in Tokyo!

I am exhausted and unfortunately having issues with my laptop, so I am going to go rest up for a big day tomorrow (the welcome ceremony)! Stephen, Professor Kasson, and I will continue to keep everybody updated.

Lindsay

My Last Night in STL

Hello all,

I cannot believe that (very early) tomorrow morning our journey will be officially underway! My bags are almost packed and now I’m just counting down the hours until I leave for the airport. Although some terrible storms are tearing through the area, I have faith that the currently closed airport will be reopened by our 7:15 flight. Hopefully the weather will clear up and the airport will soon be functioning!

One of the last things I have to pack is my Bogey the Bearcat. I’m sure Stephen, Professor Kasson, Bogey, and myself will have such a memorable time in Japan! Bogey and I bid our last farewells to McKendree before we travel to Tokyo:

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The next time I update you will be from Japan–I look forward to sharing my experiences with you!

Go Bearcats!
Lindsay

Two and a Half Weeks Away…

My Friends,

The very moment I discovered that I was selected for the Technos opportunity I was standing in the President’s Assistant’s office with a best friend on my cell phone line resting inside of a pant-leg pocket awaiting an update. Minutes later I had both feet planted atop a bench in the middle of an open field. I wanted to scream… and shout! My disbelief allowed me to utter only a few constant words, though, “oh my gosh, oh my gosh…” This is seriously nothing short of a dream. Countless nights were spent trying to imagine just how beautiful and amazing a Japanese expedition would be. During one of my first couple of months here at McKendree, Brianne, a student who attended Technos last year as a Junior, presented a PowerPoint presentation to my University 101 Class. It showcased all of the grand events and people she experienced while she was in Japan. Our Uni 101 class was composed of Freshmen. While we looked on and learned of the prerequisites of nominations, interviews, and selection processes, it was quite clear there was a unanimous belief, “Even if I wanted to go, I doubt I could.” Sometimes a stance more suitable than doubt is hope… and in this situation, I experienced it being cultivated into something extraordinary when I read the words,

“Dear Stephen: I am pleased to inform you that you have been selected as a McKendree representative for the 2013 Technos International Week to be held this June in Japan.”

Remarkable.

For those that are not very familiar with me, I have just completed my first year at McKendree University. Before arriving at the University, I expected to major in Philosophy, and in doing so I have thus far had a more fulfilling scholastic experience than I would have asked for. It is the sort of study that allows me to delve myself into different thought processes, ideas, and circles of reasoning scattered across the world that have greatly affected its events occurring in the present, and the past. The enjoyment of this makes meeting new people and learning of their cultural and personal history so lovely. I am extremely eager to do so in Japan. My minor is Legal Studies, and I expect to notice differences in the legal expectations of Japan, especially considering the fact that it is one of the least crime ridden areas of the world…

IMG_0304 Excitement ensued as I opened my packages containing the tools I’ll be using to document my voyage. And nope, I don’t have any top secret toothbrushes with built in cameras inside of that Colgate bag. I’d just been to the dentist. Gotta be a nice and clean representative for my country, right? ^^

Japan is sooo far away. It’s exhilarating. Over fourteen hours by plane, and on a different side of the Earth. It’s a constant reminder of how unique their culture will be in comparison to what I’ve experienced throughout my life in the United States. It will probably feel like another world. The images I’ve seen of the countrysides are definitely a testament that description. What I will likely notice initially upon arrival is the wording. The Japanese language is written with symbols that appear as though they were constructed with a desire for delicacy. It’s like an art form to me. Maybe when I get back I can convince the authorities of the English language to adopt a few Japanese symbols based on my experience… Yep, plausible. Japanese culture has always intrigued me. When I was in sixth grade my homeroom teacher showed our class a miniseries based on 17th century Japan. Couldn’t get enough, and still can’t. Although much has changed in the past few centuries, much of what I witnessed on that show that interested me is still visible today: the importance of honor, kindness, and respect can be seen echoing throughout documentaries and historical works. Their independence then and now is an always visible delight in their forms of music, dance, literature, and clothing, media outlets… There is an endless supply of uniqueness in culture that I CANNNN’T wait to see… So as to not give all of you in attendance to this blog an overflow of excitement that I have only recently learned to contain, I will delay my further expansion for now.

“We’re going to Japan!!” I eventually yelled to my friend as I stood outside of the building of the President’s office. I am not only excited for myself, but for all of those I will be able to share my experiences with. I promise I will do so adequately. Thank you for reading, and enjoy your evening, my friends.

Stephen

Terese Kasson: Preparing for Japan!

I am excited to be representing McKendree University at the Technos International Week 2013. The up-coming school year has been designated “The Year of Diversity” at McKendree and I cannot think of a better way to start the celebration of diversity than spending two weeks in Japan with two interesting and interested McKendree students. Based on my discussions with faculty members who have previously participated in the program, I look forward to fascinating Japanese experiences and to forming new friendships. I thank the Tanaka Ikueikai Educational Foundation for providing this wonderful opportunity of cultural exchange.
Now back to my Japanese phrase book…

One Month Away!

Hello everybody, 

In exactly one month I will be on my way to Japan! I am so excited to go to Toyko, and before I go I just wanted to share a little bit about myself. 

I am an English literature and philosophy double major. On campus, I am the Assistant Editor for the McKendree Review, research assistant to Dr. Martha Patterson, treasurer of the Literary Interest Society, a member of the Honors Program, and I participated in The Vagina Monologues with the McKendree Young Feminists. Additionally, I am a student worker at the Hett.
 
I applied for the Technos trip after my English professors Dr. Patterson and Dr. Greenfield suggested I might be a good candidate. After looking into the Technos trip, I became very excited at the thought of going to Japan and truly felt that I was a good fit for the educational exchange. I have always been deeply interested in Asian cultures, and Japanese culture in particular. Being an English literature and philosophy major, I have an appreciation for and interest in the philosophies, religions, and literature of other cultures, and am excited to explore them further. Japan has a rich literary history that we, as members of Western society, are unfortunately not exposed to much. I applied for this trip to have new experiences and immerse myself in this rich culture. I can’t wait to make new friends and see how their perspectives influence my own views. I am an open-minded individual and I believe establishing an international dialogue through educational exchanges such as the Technos trip is one of the most important things we can do as members of an international community. It is an honor to represent McKendree University and the United States. 
 
I hope to learn about historical elements of Japan, including Kabuki theatre, the tea ceremony, and Japanese literature. Just as importantly, though, I want to gain an understanding of modern Japanese citizens and how they live their daily lives. Interacting with Japanese students around my own age will offer me the chance to learn about diverse perspectives and relate to people I would have never otherwise had the chance to meet. I can’t wait to get to know the other students and learn about their families, their religions, and their hobbies! I am also extremely excited to try new foods!
 
I most look forward to completely immersing myself in Japanese culture, and then seeing how that immersion changes me as a person. I can’t wait to bring back what I have learned and share it with my family, my friends, and the McKendree community. I know the experience will improve my writing and inspire me artistically. I also hope that bringing my own perspective will influence some of the students I interact with, and I hope to be able to teach them just as much as they teach me. I have never left the country before, so I look forward to the first night I am able to spend in Japan…I couldn’t imagine a better place to travel! 
 
I hope everybody enjoys reading about our experiences in Japan, and welcome to our blog! Once we arrive in Tokyo, I will keep you all updated and post as many pictures as possible.
 
Go Bearcats!
Lindsay

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