Cincinnati, Ohio, July 27, 2018 – Erika Lundstedt, Saint Ursula Academy social studies teacher, traveled to Japan for a two week immersion program sponsored by the Foreign Policy Research Institute and the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for East Asian Studies. She is one of 20 middle and high school educators selected to participate in this program in Japan from June 21 to July 5.
The program was oriented around three themes on Japan’s culture and history: Political and Social Stability, Maintaining Cultural Values While Seeking Change, and Cultural Borrowing. The itinerary included visits to Tokyo and Hokkaido, Japan’s major northern island, and offered diverse opportunities to explore the nation’s cultural, political, and economic centers. In Tokyo, participants visited sites such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the U.S. Embassy, the Imperial Palace Gardens, and the Meiji Shrine. Visits were also scheduled to the city of Sapporo, Hakodate, rural villages, and nature sites on Hokkaido.
“Visiting Hokkaido was an incredible experience, especially since so few Westerners travel to that part of Japan,” said Lundstedt. ‘It was a great way to see how Japan borrows from other cultures. Hokkaido was once seen as a frontier that needed to be opened up to the rest of Japan, similarly to how we viewed westward expansion in our country. As a result, it contains elements of Japanese and indigenous cultures with sought-out Western influence through the promotion of agriculture. Hokkaido reminded me more of Ohio than the rest of Japan.”
Lundstedt, who teaches economics and an honors world history course for sophomores, is excited to share what she learns with students and colleagues.
“We visited many sites and museums about the Ainu, the indigenous people of northern Japan, and learned that their history and efforts to preserve their culture are similar to the experiences of native tribes within the United States.” Said Lundstedt.
Because of her interest in international education and educational policy, she was particularly interested in visiting Japanese schools and interacting with students.
Participants are asked to share their experiences upon their return home with other teachers by creating lesson plans, holding workshops, designing events, forming clubs, introducing new courses, or attending and speaking at conferences. When school resumes at SUA, Ms. Lundstedt plans to share her knowledge of international relations and Japanese culture with her colleagues.
“I learned more about Japan's relationships with the West, both politically and economically. I have had some experience studying modern foreign policy at a previous institute at the University of Texas and I was excited to expand my knowledge in foreign policy, particularly US-Japanese relations,” she said.
Saint Ursula Academy is a Catholic, college-preparatory, secondary school for young women known for academic excellence and rich tradition. Saint Ursula welcomes students from more than 90 grade schools in the Greater Cincinnati area. The Academy is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a Blue Ribbon School. The campus, located at 1339 E. McMillan Street in East Walnut Hills has been the home of St. Ursula Academy and Convent since 1910. The Class of 2018 earned college scholarships totaling more than $21-million.