This pilot program was a wonderful opportunity for students to take their studies to another level, by meeting and connecting with the people who are directly involved in the issues they are researching, such as people working in organisations to support refugees or journalists writing about LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights. Students were also clearly building their confidence and self-efficacy through tasks such as calling to make arrangements, interviewing, and communicating and researching in English. By taking initiative for their projects, the students went through a change in identity, realizing that they were not only students learning about Japan and Australia but experts in their area who could explain to Australian people about the situation in Japan.
For this year’s program, we are looking forward to participation by students who have a sense of seriousness about how the topics in the program affect real people’s lives. If you have a critical curiosity about diversity issues and human rights and are interested in understanding them better through talking with people and knowing how people see things differently, and then trying to make sense of these issues in both Japan and Australia, you will enjoy the program. You will need to work well with other people and be able to interview people in English, but we are flexible about language proficiency for motivated students who will work hard to develop their English for doing fieldwork.
To students interested in the program, this is a great chance to connect academic knowledge to the real world. Learning from refugees or indigenous people, for example, about their experiences and viewpoints will help you realise not just the differences but also the similarities between them and you. This opportunity to change yourself through encounters with people, to learn about what is important in people’s lives, will in turn help you think about what is important for you. We look forward to exploring these issues and relationships and continuing to build the program in the future together with the students who participate in it.