Thanks to Kubota Tractor Corporation, eight students experienced the culture of well-being, peace in Japan
BY ROBIN CHENOWETH
The Japanese endeavor to reach sublime equilibrium — in their minds, their bodies and their work. They approach these areas with an attitude of utmost reverence.
Their respect for balance, and the peace it engenders, awed eight EHE Education Abroad students at the Tsukuba Summer Institute in Japan last July. The worldwide seminar for physical activity and physical education students meets yearly at the University of Tsukuba. This year’s EHE students received scholarships from the Kubota Tractor Corporation to attend.
Derrick Taylor, ’18 BS, was inspired by a culture that honors the body by maintaining it. “Physical education is totally different there,” he said. “They live, breathe and sleep it. They really own their health.”
Taylor, who graduated in physical education teacher education in the spring, noticed that bicycles were more plentiful than cars in Tsukuba. Locals frequent well-maintained fitness facilities. Children receive physical education every day, and physical activity is integrated into many facets of life.
During a school visit, he discovered first- and second-graders sweeping and mopping at day’s end. “That’s part of being physically active as well,” he said. “They really dedicate themselves to physical well-being.”
Tsukuba Institute attendees learn judo, kyudo and other games, which they later use during field experiences and in teaching demonstrations at conferences. Seeing how different cultures live and approach wellness broadens perspectives and refines teaching skills, said Jackie Goodway, professor of kinesiology and a trip instructor.
“They teach each other about their sporting traditions and cultural beliefs. But more than this, their global networks begin to develop,” she said.
Taylor — who is 6’4” and boisterous — contrasted with his Japanese counterparts in many ways. Still, they embraced him, seeking him out during meals and giving him a standing ovation at the final banquet. The beauty of the Tsukuba experience, it seems, is that the cultures found inspiration in one another.
“We are incredibly grateful for the generous support of Kubota,” Goodway said. “Without them, none of these students would have been able to engage in this life-altering experience.”