THE GSP program at UC Berkeley, summer 2011

THE GSP program at UC Berkeley, summer 2011
Zoheir Mottaki

This summer I had the chance to attend the GSP course at the University of California Berkeley. The program was a 5-week course on the ‘Middle East and the media’. The course mainly divided into two parts. The first was mostly on the backgrounds of theoretical and practical approaches to the Middle East and the second part was dedicated to media –Based coverage of it.
The participants were of two major groups of The IARU program students and the other of UC Berkeley students and some summer program participants from other universities. Altogether the formation of the 13 students mainly from different nationalities and ethnicities (almost 10 different countries) created a unique atmosphere and learning environment.
The course was managed under the supervision of the center of Middle Eastern studies at the UC Berkeley that the faculties were from variety of interdisciplinary majors including environmental Design, sociology and media studies. The coursework was mainly consisted of selected readings and website
developing skills including creating an individual website and a collective one for the final project presentation. As for the course assessment there was a midterm evaluation of the individual website and Blog and for the final the project was presented in front of Jury of the Center’s Faculty in the form of
the collective website.
By being at another university like UC Berkeley and technically studying there, not only gave me a new experience of learning environment with different atmosphere but it also gave me a chance to look back and recognize new features of the place I was before (the University of Tokyo). The classes, instructors, Professors, facilities, materials, class management, research inquires and in general the learning culture at the UC Berkeley were in certain ways different from TODAI but as I said there are power points and weak points which this experience helped me understand better. My academic stay in Berkeley helped me to realize that some of the weak points I had in mind about my home university (TODAI) are indeed good opportunities and not that critical as I thought so.
Standing aside native Japanese from TODAI, I felt half Japanese facing with other international students and I was able to explain certain cultural issues more efficiently to other international students. I never realized this while being in Japan, in fact I felt more a Gaijin in Tokyo which oppositely there I felt more
Japanese than others.
In conclusion, for me a new level of appreciating identity in design, architecture and urbanism has emerged. Regarding my research in housing in Iran and Japan I consider my insights facilitated by the course as highly effective and illuminating.
I would like to acknowledge and thank the FUTI Foundation for generously offering me the award that made my journey possible.