Harvard Summer School

By Kana Sugiyama (University of Tokyo, Senior, International Relations)

In July, I was lucky to be able to travel to Cambridge, Massachusetts to join the 3-week Harvard Summer School program. In the classroom, I was able to learn intensively about many facets of globalization and exchanged views with brilliant minds from all over the world. At Currier House, which is the residential housing that I stayed at (and is also where Bill Gates starting his business!), I spent many late nights with my peers at the dining hall working on seemingly never-ending assignments, while also having fun sharing life stories and learning each other’s cultures. The three weeks at Harvard will be the time of my life that I will cherish forever.

There are a few takeaways that I would like to share from my experience:

  • Globalization can have a human face if we try. Although it may be true that globalization produced many losers as well as winners, the problem is not with globalization itself, but in the way in which globalization has been managed. Those who have benefitted from globalization, including myself, should acknowledge the reality of some negative impacts of globalization. However, this should not be a signal to turn our backs on globalization and walk away from it, but rather, should be a trigger for us to consider how we can better manage it.
  • Humility is essential in learning. I was fortunate to cross paths with many individuals who have already built successful career but have joined the program simply because “they still have a lot to learn”. Despite having extensive experience and knowledge, they were willing to learn from others and were very eager to explore new concepts and ideas, rather than sticking to what they already know. They have inspired me to continue exploring my interests and continuously learn more about the world.
  • Diversity is a wonderful thing. Students at Harvard Summer School came from all over the world, were different age, and had very different lives outside of Harvard setting. This enabled many meaningful discussions where I was able to learn not just about different views from my own, but also the importance of open-mindedness and the joy of finding common ground and creating a new solution together. 
  • Adventure builds confidence. This was my first time in the US, and I went there alone, not knowing anyone or about the place. By changing environment and venturing out from my comfort zone, I was able to self-reflect and better understand myself as well as the world around me, which I think was crucial in boosting my confidence level.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Friends of UTokyo, Inc. for supporting this journey. I would not have been able to learn about myself and the world if it was not for their generous support.