Classes ended in the middle of November and since then I think I've been much busier and learned a lot more than during the official academic term. Right after ICU classes ended, I started a competency-based experiential learning course at United Nations University that was absolutely fantastic. The goal of the class was to help researchers learn how to convey their academic findings to the public and to policy makers. Every day we had UN communication professionals help us with a different and specific focus, then we got to try it for ourselves and finally we received expert feedback. The skills were: public speaking and presentations, powerpoint slide design, giving and participating in interviews, building a personal website, online presence in social media and article writing. All the aforementioned topics were for an intelligent audience not in our field and our instructors consistently asked us to imagine communicating to a typical person who would watch a TED talk. Without a doubt, this was the best course I've had since being in Tokyo and I think "Communicating for researchers" should be a required course for any graduate student looking to make an impact or use their findings for societal change and improvement.
I'm spending the last two weeks of the month after the UNU course speaking at two different conferences: The Japanese Association of Language Teachers conference in Nagoya and a conference entitled Japan in the World and the World in Japan in Osaka. In the middle of those two conferences I'm speaking in three different high school classrooms about my experience in Mozambique. Although public speaking isn't one of my favorite things to do and definitely isn't one of my strong points, I'm consistently seeing the need to get better at it and also feel more comfortable.
Winter term classes start on December 5, the day after I return from Osaka and it's going to be hard to return to campus and be back in the classroom after all the fun I've had learning in new ways and in different places. If you're interested in seeing how the first year went, the latest edition of the ICU Rotary Peace Center Newsletter can be found here: https://rotaryicu.files.wordpress.com/2016/09/newsletter_volume8-2.pdf
A lack of internet at the various places I've been these past few weeks has made it difficult to post but I'm looking forward to writing more regularly once winter term begins. Thanks for following along!