Baylor Sophomore Accepted to Attend Japan-America Student Conference

April 27, 2011

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In the wake of the Japanese earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis, one Baylor University student will travel to Japan this summer as a delegate in the annual Japan-American Student Conference (JASC).

Baylor sophomore Andrew Leistensnider of Greenwich, Conn., will join students from across the United States and Japan from July 24 to Aug. 21, to travel to Niigata, Kyoto, Okinawa and Tokyo, Japan, as a part of the 63rd conference.

Leistensnider, a University scholar major, said he is wary, but also "excited to see firsthand a Japan not prettied-up for the world, but raw and honestly responding to a devastating natural disaster."

Hosted by the nonprofit organization International Student Conferences, JASC was begun in 1934 by Tokyo University students troubled by pre-war relations with the United States. The Japanese students invited a delegation of United States students to Japan to discuss issues of the day, and the following year, American students reciprocated by hosting Japanese students in the United States.

Today, JASC continues to emphasize alliance between Japan and the United States, foster leadership, address current issues and spark ideas for the future, as delegates from the two countries meet each year.

Leistensnider said he feels honored to have been chosen to attend the event.

"My professor for Japanese, Fujii Sensei (Yoshiko Fujii Gaines, professor of Japanese at Baylor), told me about the conference and said that I was a very strong candidate for it," Leistensnider said. "I am very grateful that she recommended that I apply."

This year's JASC theme is "Question, Engage, Build: Collaborative Effort to Make a Difference." The conference will include seven roundtable discussions, with topics ranging from "Media in Shaping Social Perspectives" to "Interpretation of History in International Relations."

"I am definitely interested in them all, but particularly interested in the one that I was assigned to present in: 'Culture and the Environment: Micro Approaches Toward a Global Issue,'" Leistensnider said.

The roundtable will examine the lifestyles and cultures of Japan and the United States and seek to understand how the daily life of an individual can make a difference in the environment.

Delegates also will attend forums and receptions, as well as go on field trips and sightsee.

Leistensnider said he is most excited to visit Kyoto, the former imperial capital of Japan.

"It is such a bastion of traditional Japanese culture and because of the tense dichotomy between Westernization and traditionalism in the city," Leistensnider said.

JASC's executive committee is also working to incorporate public service and education related to Japan's earthquake and tsunami disasters into the conference.

By attending the conference, Leistensnider said he hopes to gain valuable relationships with the other attendees.

"I hope to make friendships with the other delegates from both America and Japan, probably Japan in particular, and to preserve those relationships with trust and a continued concern for Japan-America relations,'" Leistensnider said.

by Katy McDowall, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805

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