This summer, I had the pleasure of collaborating with the University of Washington Honors Program to pilot a new study abroad course in Tokyo. Being a proud UW Honors alum (and former program staff member), I was honored when Associate Director Julie Villegas asked me to help send the first-ever group of 12 Honors students to Tokyo, Japan. We created a three-week interdisciplinary curriculum on the topic of “Constructing Japanese Identity: Comparing National Narratives in Japan and the US,” exploring the complex and shifting web of narratives surrounding Japanese national identity in a comparative perspective. We drew on materials from both the social sciences and the humanities to discuss identity from a variety of perspectives, including history, politics, race, gender, age, religion, art, culture, and food. In addition to attending lectures by faculty from Waseda University, Toyo University, Sophia University, the Fulbright Foundation, and other Tokyo-based organizations, students also had the opportunity to visit key sites in Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Kyoto.
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