An Update from Taylor Stevenson
Greetings Pearl Rotarians,
I am ringing in the new year Japanese style this year which, for many, involves a trip to a local Buddhist temple and an all-night party in the streets. Tokyo winters are as cold as the summers are hot, and I can now see my breath inside my apartment (the lack of central heat here has been something of an adjustment, particularly for my Thai roommate).
I have already harvested my rather puny balcony vegetables, which got a late start after an extreme (and exciting!) typhoon wiped out the first batch. The first term of classes went well and I am impressed with the diversity of students in the ICU graduate program. Upwards of 15 nationalities are represented in some of my classes, which leads to great debates.
My research papers for last term looked largely at theoretical and practical debates related to social exclusion. To balance academic theory with some hands on experience, I have been getting out and about as much as possible, attending workshops, helping build a straw bale house, visiting local farms and ecology groups, meeting up with Japanese friends, volunteering at a local orphanage, attending Rotary meetings and events, singing karaoke and learning a bit of Japanese from a sweet little retired man who has adopted me as his student and, perhaps, his granddaughter.
This term I am taking a range of classes, and am particularly interested in learning more about non-hierarchical education systems and how to apply them to development models. Also on my mind is this summer’s fast approaching field experience opportunity, for which I am tasked to find someplace in the world to intern (tough life, eh?).
I am currently looking for internships in Bhutan, as I aim to research Zero Waste strategies and the human resources engaged to implement such strategies. I am also helping ICU faculty members organize a large event to facilitate dialogue between artists and policy-makers who are dedicated to peace and reconciliation. The event is part of an ongoing project of the US-based Aspen Foundation, and ICU will have the honor of hosting in October, 2012.
I am enjoying Tokyo and am starting to feel at home here. Living so far from Portland also reminds me of the luxuries of the Pacific NW. Portland and Tokyo differ in many ways. I am particularly missing the vibrant arts scene, Forest Park, friendly neighborhood cats, Mexican food and crunchy peanut butter! On the other hand, Tokyo has great food, kind people, is amazingly safe and exhibits some of the best fashion and most unbelievable hair dos on earth. I look forward to seeing you all in Portland this June, while I participate in the upcoming peace conference that some of you are helping to organize.