Browsing Tag


U.S. Fulbright

The Story About Hiroshima and Nagasaki You Have to Hear

August 8, 2016

Takeshi Miyata wanders through Auschwitz during his 85 journey around the world on Peace Boat’s 80th Voyage.

“Everything is connected,” exclaimed Takeshi Miyata as he walked along the railway at the Auschwitz death camps, almost 70 years after Jews were carted off to slaughter in the same location. “Jewish scientists escaped the Nazis, helped America build an atomic bomb, and it was dropped on me.”

Anyone who entered Hiroshima and Nagasaki within two weeks of the release of the only two atom bombs detonated over people were designated as Hibakusha: “Exposed to the atomic bomb/radiation.” Miyata, and eight other members of the Peace Boat Hibakusha Project, had traveled halfway around the world from Japan. They shared their cautionary tales of nuclear power in each port of call along the way. Some spoke publicly for the first time in their lives. I was their web reporter.

Peace Boat, part cruise ship, part political lobby, was on its 80th voyage in 30 years. The Hibakusha Project was participating in a Peace Boat voyage for the sixth time. Our journey in 2013 started in Da Nang, Vietnam, where we spent the day with victims of Agent Orange who have experienced generational effects of the chemicals wartime use.  We confronted Japan’s own violent past in Singapore at the National History Museum. We shared testimony with a Hungarian-Polish Auschwitz survivor at the center for Dialogue in Poland, and befriended El Salvadorian revolutionaries in Central America.

Continue Reading

U.S. Fulbright

Back in Japan for the First Time: My Fulbright Experience, By William Bridges IV, 2009-2010, Japan

August 10, 2011

“I can’t believe you know so much Japanese but you don’t even know this,” my friend Toshi, a native Tokyoite, laughed.  His tone fell somewhere between incredulity and friendly lampooning.  The this” that I had yet to learn was some wild gesticulation that looked something like the way I imagine a rooster would perform a Shakespearian soliloquy.  Toshi was doing an ippatsugaggu, or “one-shot gag,” a single action performed typically by Japanese comedians.  And ippatsugaggu, to borrow the Japanese articulation, hayaru, or spread like contagion: you would be hard pressed to live in Japan—to watch a little Japanese TV, to look at ads on the subway or to have a conversation with a group of friends as Toshi and I were doing now—without encountering the latest ippatsugagu.  Incredulity was, for Toshi, the only logical response.  I was ten years into Japanese studies and hadn’t seen something that one could spot after living in Japan for ten minutes.

How is it that my studies had deprived me like this?  Toshi was right. I had never seen poultry performing Shakespeare.  Explaining this gap in my knowledge takes me back to the beginning of my decade-long exchange with Japan.  I’d had three extended study abroad trips to Japan and had lived in the country for a total of more than two years.  Each trip was under the auspices of stellar study abroad programs.  My Japanese had, thanks to the remarkable administration of these programs, improved exponentially.  At the final review of each of these programs, however, when the director would meet with all of the graduating participants and brainstorm ways to improve the program for incoming participants, someone would inevitably pose the following critique: we didn’t have enough contact with “real” Japanese people.  Our Japanese had improved, but we hadn’t become a part of Japan.

I’m sure my lack of familiarity with contemporary Japanese popular culture must have caught Toshi off guard during our time together.  I met Toshi during my fourth trip to Japan – when I was a Fulbrighter.  He was a teacher at a local nursery school and invited me to volunteer there.  Toshi’s father, the director of the school, was initially worried about having a non-native speaker as a volunteer.  After hearing that I was a Fulbrighter, his father, convinced that I “would be the ambassador to Japan in no time,” was more than welcoming.  The director’s support of the Fulbright Program was certainly a two-way street: my time as a Fulbrighter was the first time I’d been affiliated with a program that actively supported, encouraged and lauded community-building and international educational exchange.

Toshi and I were talking with a group of teachers and volunteers after the nursery’s track-and-field day when he deployed his ippatsugaggu.  Putting the event together took (almost) as much energy as the kids put into the competition, and Toshi repaid the volunteers with his unique brand of good humor.  I appreciated the thought—and the lesson in pop culture—but becoming a member of the school community as a Fulbrighter was all the reward I needed.

  • Try to write narrative application components in a way that is accessible and engaging to multiple audiences.  Application evaluators come from a variety of backgrounds ranging from American academics to host country entrepreneurs.  Crafting an application that speaks to multiple strata of readers is essential.
  • One way to ensure that your application is suitably accessible is to garner feedback on proposal ideas/application components from a variety of readers: professors, former Fulbrighters, family members, et cetera.  Fulbrighters are known for their intellectual curiosity and commitment to cross-cultural exchange.  Anyone who possesses these characteristics that you know and trust is a potential good source of constructive criticism for your application materials.

Photo: William Bridges IV, 2009-2010, Japan

Questions for William about his Fulbright experiences?  Feel free to email him at

U.S. Fulbright Unknown

Found in Translation: Investigating and Comparing the Japanese and American Stigma Associated with Schizophrenia , By Misty Richards, 2009-2010, Japan

May 25, 2010

People in Japan are polite. The traditions and history are rich. Efficiency is high. The bright lights of Tokyo cast a glow on the serene rock gardens and trickling streams that highlight the beautiful contradictions that resonate throughout the city.

Before I came to Japan, I was trapped in the A to B mentality that medical and/or graduate school tends to steer you towards. Having lived outside of this environment for the past 10 months, I can now look at this type of mentality objectively and see that it may not promote creativity or foster individual development. In my opinion, you need to stimulate new neurons to fire every day in order to come up with the ideas that will lead to important discoveries. This inside-out approach was once novel to me, but it is one I truly endorse now after my Fulbright experience in Japan. I feel so fortunate to be working on the first cross-cultural stigma study between Japan and the United States, specifically, comparing the levels of stigma associated with schizophrenia between the two cultures. The formal title of my projects is, “Found in Translation: A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Stigma Associated with Schizophrenia between Japan and the U.S.” and I am completing this research at the National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry in Tokyo. We are surveying hundreds of American and Japanese physicians, psychiatrists and psychiatric staff, as well as the general public, on their views of those suffering from schizophrenia. It has been an incredibly productive year and we truly hope that the results of our stigma study reach far beyond the pages of an academic journal. In the end, we hope that it will help advocate for those suffering from schizophrenia throughout the world, giving patients the resolve they need to adequately treat their illness.

Furthermore, I have been particularly impressed with the Fulbright conferences I have attended at the Japan -U.S. Educational Commission (which administers the Fulbright Program in Japan) concerning soft power, global relations and diplomacy, as well as talks given concerning the environment and climate change. Japan is a very diplomatic and conscientious country. To be a conscientious global citizen, I have learned that we cannot completely separate our lives from public policy or politics, the environment, other countries, technology and science. I believe these subjects to be imperative if we are to grasp the world’s future direction and to harness our individual potential to initiate progressive change. After all, it is when we open our minds to the global consequences of our actions that we can begin to understand that what we do today will affect future generations.

While living and working in Japan, I have met people from all walks of life. I feel so fortunate to have met so many interesting characters who have contributed to my overall impression that Japan is a wonder. Considering that I work at a psychiatric/neurological hospital, I encounter patients with schizophrenia (“togo shitcho sho”) and mental illness everyday. Moreover, I see patients with severe cases of epilepsy, brain retardation and rare genetic diseases as they try desperately to make their way down the hall. Each step for them is careful, calculated, and seems to take just as much courage as it does energy to execute. These people are my heroes, for they are alive and functioning in a world that may not be as considerate as it could be. The stigma, discrimination and shame that are often associated with such illnesses permeates all cultures and geographic boundaries, which is why it is a global problem to be solved and not one specific to Japan or the United States. We must understand – as scientists, physicians, and human beings – that a major part of healing and understanding brain pathophysiology resonates in comprehending the integration of nature with nurture. We often neglect the nurture aspect of this partnership, which is comparable to looking through a window at the world with the shades only half drawn. Seeing these people at the hospital and learning their stories reminds me that it is essential to open the shades completely to let the sunshine – or lack thereof – stream in.

It has been an incredible experience to learn more about the mental health system in Japan and to compare it with how mental illness is approached in America. I hope that the results of this first cross-cultural study on stigma levels between Japan and America concerning schizophrenia will elucidate ways in which we can help patients live life more comfortably and happily throughout the world.

Photo: Misty Richards, 2009-2010, Japan, with two fellow lab members at the National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry, researching both clinical and basic scientific aspects of schizophrenia.