【Report】My Thoughts on the Internship at EAA (Atsuko Ishida)

Hello to the people who are currently reading this; my name is Atsuko Ishida and I have had the pleasure to be part of an internship experience at EAA for the past week. I would first like to thank everyone at EAA for having me around in their office for roughly 4 days, as it is rare in Japan to accept high school interns. 

When I first came to the University of Tokyo for this internship experience, I was almost coming in blind as the academia in Japan is greatly different from the one in the United States. While I happened to know some concepts in Asian studies, I only had a vague understanding at most for most of the topics, and I was slightly worried that I was not able to understand or get along with the members at EAA. 

However, this feeling was soon replaced with a sense of comfort and curiosity once I started speaking with EAA members on the first day. The first day of my internship was used as a social opportunity where I got to know the members more; I felt more comfortable talking with them and we actually talked about trash as well as the development of artificial intelligence and problems with artificially generated art. 

On the second day, members of the EAA hosted a small workshop in which some members introduced their research; each member researched something diverse and entirely different from each other. For example, one person researched aesthetics (a discipline I was unfamiliar with prior to this internship) and highlighted the differences between four generations of Chinese scholars, something which I thought was interesting. On the other hand, another person researched Chinese music and showed me some books that highlighted the class ranks of Chinese instruments, something which I also had never known prior to this internship. 

There were also many thought-provoking topics on common topics between Hawaii and Okinawa. Assimilationism, common in colonialism, is also a big problem in Hawaii, which is where I grew up. Additionally, it was interesting to hear the presentation that Kampo medicine, the environment, and development are in fact deeply connected in a region, even though the research seems to be unrelated at first glance. I believe that Okinawa and Kampo medicine are somewhat related, but I learned that the careers of each researcher are behind such a variety of research and connect their respective themes.

By having each member tell me about their research in a condensed version, I felt that I had a good, detailed idea of ​​what kind of research was being conducted at EAA. While it seems that everyone’s research is separated from each other, and is surprisingly deeply connected, aiming to understand East Asia as a whole; something which felt like a very different place compared to other research institutes.

I think the most valuable experience I gained from this internship as a whole is when I saw, heard, and spoke to many intellectually talented people who are truly passionate about their field of research. Listening to how people got into their field (ex: Prof. Yanagi escaping from chemistry to studying Buddhism) and their current state of research made me realize that most of these researchers I met at EAA truly love their line of work and research something that they are passionate about. Oftentimes, the academic environments I have been a part of would be a place where in some place, there is a part where there is a restraint or a weight that prevents researchers from fully expressing their research and thoughts. Being able to be part of the academic environment at EAA where researchers can discuss academic topics that are all interconnected in some way made me realize and solidify a definition of what an academic environment should be. 

Overall, I believe that this internship experience was interesting, rewarding, and something which solidified my perspective on an academic setting; I hope that by using this knowledge from this internship, I can apply these new perspectives in the academic setting I am currently part of in Honolulu, Hawaii. I would like to express my thanks to EAA members once more, and I look forward to working with everyone once more; thank you. 


Reported by: Atsuko Ishida