During the 2011-2012 academic year, I was the Wyatt Fellow and the program’s theme was “Japan: Tradition and Change.” In 2012 May, I took ten students, all history majors, to Japan for about a three-week study abroad tour. We visited several cities, many historical sites, mingled and chatted with university professors and students from Kitakyūshū University and Kagoshima University. The students, or Wyatt travelers, commented that “it was a once in a lifetime experience” and/or “it was a life changing experience.” It was clearly a remarkable time in their lives. Indeed, it was a pleasure to have been part of this experience and it was one of the high points in my teaching career. It was a remarkable time for me too.
The faculty members of the History Department selected me as the Wyatt Fellow for the second time. This is truly a privilege and honor. The 2014-2015 Wyatt Exploration Program’s theme is “Japan: It’s History and People.” This year long program will include a lecture series, film series and taiko (Japanese drum) performance. It will conclude in 2015 May with a study abroad tour to Japan, including Okinawa, and Hawaii. The Wyatt Exploration Program is in its sixth year, and we have taken history majors to Poland, Virginia, Japan and Wales. We have enriched the lives of our students through these trips, where students not only came in contact with the histories that they have studied but also with different cultures. I hope that the 2015 May trip will be just as rewarding as other Wyatt trips abroad.
The University of Michigan-Flint has gone through many changes over the years. When I arrived at the university in 1989, internationalization/globalization was barely visible. The only study abroad tour was to Egypt that took place occasionally. Foreign students rarely enrolled at our campus and the International Center did not exist. The idea of student housing was just that, an idea. Internationalization/globalization was low on the university’s priorities. We have come a long way! Now, we have several university sponsored study abroad tours to various parts of the world. And, in the History Department, we have our own study abroad tours through the Wyatt Exploration Program. Indeed, we have to thank Dorothea Wyatt for making this possible.
I am a frequent visitor to Japan, and my first extended stay was during my graduate school days. It was exciting to visit places I had studied and to conduct research in Japan. I did not have any difficulties with the language, but I had to quickly learn the proper way to doing things in Japan. Yes, the custom was different. Soon, Japan became a country that was beyond my research interests. I acquired a greater appreciation of its history, culture and people. I will be sharing my knowledge and experience to make this trip more meaningful, but there will be discourses with Japanese students. Through these dialogues, I hope that the students will not only come to better understand each other but also develop friendships.
It is a pleasure to lead another Wyatt trip to Japan and Hawaii.
Roy S. Hanashiro, Ph.D.