Report from Kanazawa University
The Earth Science Course (scheduled to change into the Earth and Planetary Science Course at the School of Earth and Social Infrastructure from next academic year) at the School of Natural System, Kanazawa Univ. is conducting comprehensive research for understanding mechanisms for oceanic plates, from formation to disappearance.
Recently, two Filipino students from University of the Philippines and three Indian students from University of Calcutta came to Japan as part of the SAKURA Exchange Program in Science. One faculty member from India also participated in the program. They arrived in Japan on October 2 and departed on October 22.
We are pleased to report that one Filipino student who visited Kanazawa Univ. last academic year as part of the SAKURA Science enrolled at our university in October as a doctoral student. Although only arriving in Japan a few days earlier and still preparing for the doctoral program, the student participated in the program and provided guidance to younger students.
Creating many opportunities for discussion
One particular goal of the recent program was to create many opportunities for discussion among students, and among students and faculty. Therefore, we started with an introduction of research conducted by students at Kanazawa Univ. and a brief introduction of research by students in the SAKURA Science. Afterwards, Sakura students had sufficient time to give detailed explanations of their research in a seminar format.
During discussion, faculty members responded strictly when the discussion lacked sufficient basis, or when discussion was being conducted using only the "appearance" of an academic paper. Students were asked to start the seminar again from the beginning. One Indian student gave a total of three seminar presentations. We are sure that students gave repeated thought to their presentations during their stay in Japan.
Valuing a hands-on approach
Samani Town in Hokkaido Prefecture features large amounts of exposed rock that is similar to the rock composing the deep regions of oceanic plates. Therefore, students spend three days and two nights in the area. The rock was in good condition, and students weren't used to observing the diversity of deep earth materials which haven't deteriorated on the Earth's surface. Upon seeing the exposed outcrops and the superb samples prepared by the town in a rock park, students became engrossed in discussion and explanations.
A variety of ideas were raised by the students. Sakura students are proactive and state their opinion without worrying about if they are correct or incorrect. In contrast, Japanese students are reserved. We felt that these personality traits are greatly influenced by educational methods from childhood.
We were blessed with outstanding weather. According to schedule, we were able to observe rock at an important location while engaging in extensive discussion.
In addition to holding discussion, we also conducted advanced chemical analysis by using analytical equipment held by Kanazawa Univ. for research by Sakura students. We held presentations to explain this data and clarified future themes.
Cooperation and exchange with Japanese students
Japanese students and Sakura students cooperated to prepare meals during the survey period. While planning a menu to feed a large number of people, students went shopping and made meals together. Through the unique food culture of their respective countries, students were able to relax and engage in friendly conversation.
During their stay in Japan, Sakura students also participated in volunteer activities (cleanup activities), student experiments, and the birthday party of a Japanese student.
Participation in the creation of rock samples by primary school students
During their stay in Japan, students helped primary school students create rock samples. Together, Sakura students and Japanese university students took children to the rock site and assisted them in preparing samples. Prior to the activity, we explained to the children that their generation would have more opportunities to work together with foreigners like the Sakura students who had come to Japan. We encouraged the children to engage in active communication.
The children and their parents actively talked with Sakura students. It was a relaxing and meaningful experience for everyone involved, including Sakura students and Japanese students. In particular, the Indian faculty member was extremely interested at viewing a portion of outreach activities in Japan.
During their three-week stay in Japan, some of the students developed detailed aspirations for their future joint research. On the other hand, some students were frustrated at not being able to identify a research theme. We believe that experiencing such frustration is also important. We look forward to seeing how the SAKURA Science will contribute to exchange between foreign students and Japanese students, and to exchange in personal research activities.