Students in our program are trained to exchange ideas in English with people from a variety of cultural backgrounds. As part of this training, on August 1, 2, and 5, we held debating sessions with graduate students and postdocs from Asia, Europe and South America.
The sessions began with students introducing the lifestyles and academic conditions in their home countries. For our Japanese students, there were many new discoveries. They were able to identify how Japan differed from the guests’ home countries, and the strengths and weaknesses of various systems. The students then participated in group debates, extending their discussion of culture and customs and exploring the qualities and attributes required for researchers in the future. In regards to the question of language in research, some students highlighted the importance of communicative skills in English in order to be globally active, while others suggested that it was important to learn local languages in order to expand one’s knowledge and experience. Overall, the sessions were a very worthwhile experience for all involved.