Daily Archives: January 15, 2017

ISAK, Part 3 of 3

Following our afternoon in Old Town Karuizawa, we went up Mt. Asama to ISAK, The International School of Asia, Karuizawa. We were privileged enough to visit the campus and meet with a group of students for some discussion time and fellowship over a meal. The IB (International Baccalaureate) program requires students to engage in a CAS (Creativity, Action, and Service) Project. We met with students who had named theirs “Project Iridescent.”

This is the third in a series of three posts where MPS students will share their impressions of the relationships between MPS and ISAK, the mission and vision of ISAK in relation to that of MPS, and the content of the conversations they shared.

Here’s Charlotte Bombara on student conversations…

“On Friday at ISAK, our main purpose of visiting was to meet with a group of girls who are part of Project Iridescent, working to achieve equal rights for women in Japan. We sat down with them in the common area of one of their dorms.

Students lives feature prominently on the walls as you walk around ISAK. Here are some written introductions, a nice way to get to know fellow students despite your class or activity schedule.

Students lives feature prominently on the walls as you walk around ISAK. Here are some written introductions, a nice way to get to know fellow students despite your class or activity schedule.

The conversation began with basic facts about each others schools: co-ed vs. all girls, 150 vs. 300 students, living in the mountains vs. in the center of a small town, being part of school founded 3 years ago vs. almost 175 years ago, larger international student body etc. Then, the members of the project shared their work. These students in less then a year of work have already hosted a community day to discuss topics such as gender, race, socioeconomic status, and other identifiers. In addition, they have begun spreading the importance of gender equality in Japan by creating social media accounts, zines to share around campus, and future plans to host a podcast with a local radio station.

The creative expression, the ability to have a role in the direction of the school, and the feeling of community were apparent at ISAK, even during our short tour.

The creative expression, the ability to have a role in the direction of the school, and the feeling of community were apparent at ISAK, even during our short tour.

Porter’s students shared similar work they have done at school such as alliances, Red Zone Forum, Research Methods, and various discussions commonly held in classes. Both schools were excited to hear future plans and goals for their communities and see the similarities in their work.

After discussing various important topics, we shifted the focus to gender roles because that is Project Iridescent’s main focus. ISAK students told us about gender roles from the countries they are from as well as in Japan. Porter’s students were shocked by the expectations to become housewives, something many of us do not experience living in the US. We learned that over 60% of women in Japan leave their jobs when they become pregnant. We then shared the gender roles we have noticed staying in host families. Most of us have host mothers who stay at home and shared what we have noticed about the household being run this way, comparing it to our lives at home.

The map in the library shows the country of origin for the books and authors in their collection, along with call numbers!

The map in the library shows the country of origin for the books and authors in their collection, along with call numbers!

We also shared what women’s rights and expectations are like in the various countries we come from. After, we continued to talk with ISAK students over dinner. All of us loved getting to spend the afternoon at ISAK. The campus was beautiful and every student brought lots of valuable insight to the community.

More student artwork - what can we accomplish if we combine our creative and critical thinking skills?

More student artwork – what can we accomplish if we combine our creative and critical thinking skills?

It is rare to find another community so passionate about the same topics we are and have the opportunity to do valuable work towards it. When the day was over none of us wanted to leave, but we certainly hope Porter’s grows their relationship with ISAK in the future.”

If you missed parts 1 or 2, scroll down through our blog to read more about our visit to ISAK.