“As much as you listen to world news and hear what is going on, it is not until you speak with the people of other countries that you get a sense of the magnitude of the issues you are writing about,” said Emerson journalism student Spencer Neustadt, MA ’12. Neustadt and fellow student Megan Gregg, MA ’11, were able to do just that, when they traveled to Tokyo, Kyoto, and Kobe, Japan through a grant from the Japan Foundation.
Neustadt and Gregg were joined by eight other students from top journalism graduate programs including New York University, Columbia University, and the University of Maryland.
“Much of the purpose of the trip was to familiarize ourselves with Japanese culture so that when we go out and report on issues, in Asia or anywhere, we really have an understanding of the country. Going to Japan and having a first hand experience, you can start to break down the stereotypes and change the way people think.”
Japan Foundation grants are awarded to various types of educational programs to encourage cultural exchange. Emerson Assistant Professor Paul Niwa is the author of the Japan Foundation grant proposal and the coordinator of the project. Niwa’s project aims to raise understanding and interest in Japan and Asia among future leaders of the American news media. The trip to Japan provides students an opportunity to meet with news and media makers in Japan.
The students were in Japan for 13 days, visited four cities, and met with the foreign ministry in Tokyo, editors and reporters in Okinawa, and the Mayor of Kyoto.
“Much of the purpose of the trip was to familiarize ourselves with Japanese culture so that when we go out and report on issues, in Asia or anywhere…we really have an understanding of the country,” Neustadt said. “Going to Japan and having a first hand experience, you can start to break down the stereotypes and change the way people think.”
Of all the meetings he engaged in, Neustadt found the everyday encounters to be the most inspiring. “In Kobe, we talked to survivors from the 1995 earthquake and got to hear their stories. It was the personal stories that really made the trip,” he said.