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Global Studies prepares students for Japan

Twelve days at sea between Hawaii and Japan have given Global Studies director Alex Nalbach a lot of time to prepare students for culture shock in Kobe.

Semester at Sea’s core course, Global Studies, is designed to teach students the cultural and historical information necessary to understand the complexities of two different cultures colliding with one another. Global Studies is required for all students to take to build a foundation of cultural competency and global understanding.

Global Studies Director, Alex Nalbach

“What we’re trying to accomplish with Global Studies is to get students to try to understand a culture from the inside and, as much as possible, to explore adopting a different perspective or set of values themselves,” said Alex Nalbach, director and instructor for Global Studies.

As we sail into Japan, students have been learning about the long history there and the religion that sets the stage for the rest of their cultural values. Students have been tackling concepts like Japanese language, customs and governmental structure.

“The exciting thing about travel, if you are learning the types of things we teach in Global Studies, is that you’re moving into a context in which what seems different to you, is actually the norm everywhere,” Nalbach said.

One of the tools that Nalbach has been using in order to dispel stereotypes about the places Semester at Sea is entering is creating videos before each port with interviews of students explaining what fears or preexisting ideas they have about these ports.

Nalbach lecturing 0n the history of Japan.

“For me personally, I’m used to an individualistic society so learning about collectivism and how Japan uses Confucianism in their systems has really transformed my thoughts and made me see how interconnected the people are with each other,” said Nicole Warrick, a Spring 2018 voyager.

Semester at Sea docks in Japan this morning and students are entering into the country more aware of Japanese customs and ready to travel more responsibly.

“This is a huge opportunity to push out the boundaries of your humanity,” Nalbach said, “To test the values that you’ve embraced and the limitations of the experience of the community that you come from. To engage with all kinds of other perspectives you’re not used to, that can really open your mind.”

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