IS Student Pursues Passion For Japan at International Conference
by Lisa Heer
Carly Lauffer has a passion for all things Japanese: music, dance, food - everything.
When she came to the University of Idaho in 2009 it seemed natural for her to pursue a major in International studies, emphasizing in International Relations with a minor in Japanese - which the University is in the process of officially adopting as a minor.
So last summer when she heard about the Japan-America Student Conference, she jumped at the opportunity. Lauffer received some financial support through the Dean’s Excellence Fund, awarded to her from Dean Katherine Aiken of the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences.
The Japan-America Student Conference (JASC) is the oldest cultural exchange managed by students in the United States, beginning in 1934. The month long conference encompasses 72 university and graduate students from both America and Japan, and they discuss everything from pop culture to politics as they learn about both countries and how they relate.
“[The conference] not only provides students the opportunity to engage in numerous educational opportunities, but provides the chance to make lifelong friends, experience different cultures, and build bonds between countries,” said Lauffer.
During the summer 2010 conference, Lauffer travelled to four main sites in the United States: New Orleans, San Francisco, Richmond, and Washington, D.C. She stayed roughly a week at each site and was hosted by local colleges or hotels.
While attending various lectures and educational forums, the students also conducted a trilateral meeting between JASC and KASC (Korea-America Student Conference). Lauffer learned about Japanese music, dance, and calligraphy first-hand from the Japanese delegates who were attending.
The Japanese delegates also made Okonomiyaki and grilled mocha for the American students. Lauffer tried some Okonomiyaki, similar to a pancake, which included fish flakes, cabbage, green onions and a special sauce, which she then dipped in mayonnaise.
“It is hard to describe the taste but it is a good mixture of salty and sweet,” said Lauffer. In return, the American delegates prepared a Bar-B-Que.
Lauffer would highly recommend other students to get involved with the UI International Studies program and become active in conferences such as JASC because of the opportunities they present.
“I was able to not only travel to places I never imagined I would be able to experience, but I was able to enhance my knowledge of many different topics and experience a different culture,” said Lauffer. “I made life time friends and I have gained more confidence in myself.”
This coming summer Lauffer will serve as a delegate on the 63rd JASC Executive Committee. Lauffer was elected by fellow delegates to serve as secretary and historian.
Along with her Japanese counterpart, Akie Yamada, she will lead discussions based on the theme Culture and Environment- Micro Approaches towards a Global Issue. The 2011 conference will be held at four main sites in Japan.
After graduating with her International Studies degree, Lauffer hopes to continue on to graduate school and focus on Japan-American relations.