Travel Grant Series: Hokkaido International Foundation

Laura Specker, Graduate Student at the Department of Philosophy of the University of Hawai’i at Manoa received a Travel Grant from the East-West Center Alumni Association and the EWCA Hawaii Chapter to help her attend the Hokkaido International Foundation (HIF) Summer Japanese Language and Japanese Culture Program in Hakodate, Japan.

Here is Laura’s report from her experience.

Laura Specker
2010 Alumni Summer Travel Grant Report
August 26, 2010

I was very lucky to participate in this year’s Hokkaido International Foundation (HIF) Summer Japanese Language and Japanese Culture Program. The program began on June 10th and ended on August 7th. During the program I stayed with a host family in Hakodate, Japan, while studying Japanese five days a week at the HIF school.

Of course, I learned a tremendous amount of Japanese this summer (a whole year’s worth – I’ve bypassed 202 and 301 and am now enrolled in 302), but I feel most proud of the new ways in which I’ve come to be able to apply my Japanese skills. As part of the program, I wrote and memorized a speech in Japanese about my experience on a swim team in Japan (in 2009, when I lived in Japan with the JET Programme), and was one of two people in my class selected to present my speech in a program-wide contest.

During the mid-program break, I was able to visit this swim team, and later sent them a copy of my speech, which they said they liked very much. I also conducted a short research project on organ transplantation in Japan, for which I spoke with the Director of one of the biggest hospitals in Hakodate, and which I presented (in Japanese) at the end of the program.

I feel much more confident about my Japanese ability now, not only in terms of grammar and vocabulary, but especially in terms of real-world application. I had so many wonderful experiences, and I wish I could write about all of them!

Thank you for this wonderful opportunity.