Kaylee Spitak spent eight weeks in Osaka, Japan completing a language intensive program through CET Academic Programs. Within their first week of arriving, Kaylee completed the language pledge ceremony and spoke only Japanese for the duration of the program. Living in a Japanese-style sharehouse in residential Osaka (about a thirty minute train ride from the city), Kaylee commuted daily by local train to Osaka Gakuin University-- a school famous for economics research. Classes were rigorous and fast paced, lasting four hours a day, sometimes longer depending on which project students were assigned. Kaylee interviewed local small business owners and conducted research on monopolies and economic and entrepreneurial opportunity within Osaka, and compared that with research on small businesses' success and struggles in the United States. In July, Kaylee gave an hour long presentation at Osaka Gakuin University's summer open house on their findings. Outside of the classroom, Kaylee visited various locations around the Kansai area such as Awaji Island where they took a traditional udon-making class and learned about the agricultural exports of the local economy. Kaylee also visited numerous world heritage sites like Himeji Castle and Kyoto's ancient temples in the city of Uji.
CEE Title: The American Abroad: Social Identity and Positionality in a Global and Domestic Environment
The American Abroad consisted of roundtable discussions designed to facilitate dialogue around social identity and its impact on our experiences in a domestic and global setting. Upon arriving at the event, attendees were asked to take a blank nametag and write aspects of their identity on it. Then covering the label up with a Post-It note, attendees would wear the label for the entirety of the event. This signified a long-standing metaphor that, while we may choose to hide parts of our identity, it never truly goes away, and thus influences our interactions with our environments.
As a large group, we had a series of three main questions for attendees to vote in their answer on their phones. We would acknowledge the results of the question, and then return to our respective tables to facilitate a continued dialogue off of the polled question. Through this, attendees were able to grow in their awareness of their own identity and the impact of their identity in various environments.