Looking back of that day two months ago when I just arrived at Stanford with curiosity, anxiety, as well as excitement, it seems like just yesterday. I was curious about everything around campus, as Stanford is one of the most prestigious institutes in the world. I was also anxious about the classes I was going to take since those courses at Stanford must be different from the ones I had at the University of Tokyo in various ways such as course load and in-class discussions. At the same time, I was excited to meet new people and make new friends especially given that as a participant of Stanford Summer International Honors Program (SSIHP), I had the opportunity to live and interact with more than 100 students from 25 different universities in 16 countries around the world.
Inside academia, I had dynamic conversations with students from various majors and countries. One class Language and Culture of Silicon Valley was very interesting where we discussed and debated about technology and ethics, venture capital and angel investment, universal basic income, etc. Silicon Valley is well renowned for its distinctive cultural, technological, and financial aspects that have attracted hundreds of thousands of people outside of the valley to come to this region. Meanwhile, Silicon Valley does not only have the positive sides as people have dreamed about but has issues such as income gaps, gender pay gaps and the underrepresentation of women in STEM fields and tech companies. Fortunately, many Silicon Valley companies have tried to mitigate problems by using technology. As the course also required me to conduct an independent research project related to Silicon Valley, I was able to expand my interest as a feminist and conduct an interview with a Silicon Valley professional whose company is in charge of designing hiring algorithms that attempt to reduce unconscious bias and enrich diversity in companies. It makes me realize that if we can use technology cautiously and properly while improving it, we can use this tool to complement human decisions and address many of the problems our society is facing.
Outside academia, I spent a lot of time with new friends exploring the surroundings. Needless to say, the campus is very beautiful with famous attractions and the weather is always sunny during the summer. Besides, we went out for trips organized by the school. We watched baseball and soccer matches. We also went to the lovely beaches, saw the ocean, and took rides in the amusement park. We visited Monterey aquarium and watched sea animal shows. Moreover, we participated in activities run by our program directors and RAs. We had spa nights and massage before midterms and finals to de-stress. We had Coffee Night in the dorm where students showed their talent by performing on the stage. We had guest speakers coming to us and giving talks about how to ace in college and future mind-blowing technology that might ultimately cure cancer and make human live forever.
To conclude, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to FUTI, without whose help I would not have the opportunity to experience such fruitful and fulfilling summer. I made new friends and learned different points of view from them. I gained new knowledge not necessarily related to my major but associated with the current world and future trend. I learned more about how to do appropriate research in academia and how to approach social issues using different lenses in application. My experience at Stanford encourages me to continue to form nuanced opinions of current important issues and make positive changes as a global citizen.