Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Japanese student association in U.S. to Japanese young people: Study abroad

Japanese students at top graduate schools in the United States have formed a foreign study support association for those looking to follow in their footsteps, and they have a message to Japanese young people Study abroad!Our ultimate goal is to energize Japan,says one member of the Beikoku daigakuin gakusei-kai(U.S. graduate school student association). The formation of the association was spurred by a rising sense of crisis over Japanese young people's perceived turn against studying abroad and increasingly inward-looking attitudes. It held information sessions at six universities in Japan at the end of 2010, and also provides individual consultations.

According to the U.S.-based Institute of International Education (IIE), just under 30,000 Japanese students attended U.S. post-secondary schools in 2008, or about 60 percent of the record number who did so in 1997.There are a lot of Americans studying Chinese. And even though the overall number of foreign students coming to the U.S. is rising, the number of Japanese among them is dropping," says 28-year-old Masahiro Ono, the PhD student with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who first hit on the idea of the student association. The sense of crisis we feel about the decline in the Japanese presence here isn't being felt at home,he continues. Ono's dream is to work for NASA, and he says that nothing could top MIT for the pursuit of that goal.Students can also get a lot of exposure while studying in such universities and different course Master Course in Polymer Technology and Master in Photonics.

The student association got its start in July 2010, and has a science focus. Along with information sessions and a regular newsletter, the association plans to offer one-on-one e-mail consultations with its 200-odd members for people considering study overseas.On Dec. 20, more than 200 students attended an association information session at Waseda University in Tokyo, presided over by Ono and five other Japanese students at schools such as the University of California at Berkley and Stanford University. The six presenters expressed the thrill of studying alongside the world's best researchers and explained the scholarships available to those who keep their grades up, allaying worries about the expense of living and studying at a foreign graduate school.

What is stability? asked Marika Gunji, a 27-year-old PhD candidate in materials engineering at Stanford University and a Keio graduate.More than calling for stability in Japan, get out into the wider world,she told the attending students.After the presentation, the six association members were bombarded with an unbroken stream of questions. Twenty-one-year-old engineering student Keitaro Okada asked about how to study English, the required proficiency which was giving Okada second thoughts about trying to get into a foreign graduate school.But when I heard that one of the students ahead of me in my department was now studying hard at Stanford, I thought, 'Maybe I can do it, too,Okada said after the session.Student association executive and Tokyo Institute of Technology assistant professor Kei Sakamoto, who earned his PhD at the University of Colorado at Boulder, says,I hope to promote a situation where companies prefer to hire people with experience studying abroad.

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