Crash Course in Japanese Culture


    By Amy Kendall

    Three action-packed weeks proved to be a crash course in Japanese culture for Aaron Rose as he traveled around the country as a Fulbright Award recipient.

    One of the things that impressed Rose was the high level of development the Japanese society exhibits.

    “This is a society that is more than developed, it”s hyper-developed,” Rose said.

    Rose, who is BYU”s International Internship Coordinator, said it was like a glimpse of the future to see vending machines where you could literally buy almost anything, digital toilets complete with temperature controlled seats and elevators that talk to passengers in both Japanese and English.

    Rose also visited Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples and the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima. He described these places as havens for contemplation and thought, away from the hectic pace of the city.

    The differences and range of the country also impressed Rose. In one day the program participants went from hiking on a tropical island in the morning to speeding back to Tokyo on the bullet train to check in to their futuristic hotel that afternoon.

    However, Rose”s three weeks in Japan was not all tourist attractions and interesting cultural observations. Just the opposite. The three weeks were full of meetings between the program participants and Japanese education officials, administrators and students.

    Rose was participating in this year”s Fulbright International Education Administrators Program, which is designed to strengthen the understanding of the cultures and educational systems of each nation and help all involved gain increased ties with one another.

    “It”s about cultural exchange,” Rose said. “Cultural exchange is the foundation of the Fulbright experience. It”s about building bridges between cultures and nations.”

    The program participants met with education officials and administrators at universities all over Japan, discussing American and Japanese educational systems. Many of the discussions sought to examine how well Japanese schools prepare students for American universities and vice versa, Rose said.

    Most university trips also included a meeting where the Fulbright participants could talk with any students who might be interested in studying in America. They told them what they could expect at an American university.

    “My colleagues and I found that some of the most meaningful meetings we had were with the students,” Rose said.

    Rose described his experience as very unique and said that he feels he can now offer much more to the BYU community. He said there are many on campus, both faculty and students, who are extremely qualified for programs like these and encourages them to seek out opportunities.

    “If we have a desire to explore, why not seize the opportunity to learn?” Rose said.

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