An Internship in Japan
25 February 2020

Maria Kuznetsova, graduate student of ISU History Department, has ended a six-month internship in Japan. She passed the internship at the University of Hokkaido as part of the Russian-Japanese educational project RJE3.


The main purpose of the RJE3 project is to create a system of international cooperation in the field of education and training of specialists who can play a leading role in the field of education, culture, ecology and sustainable development of the Far East regions. Irkutsk State University, along with four other Russian universities, has been participating in the program since 2014.


Maria Kuznetsova became a member of two programs of the RJE3 project for half a year in Japan. The first was the summer school of Hokkaido University on environmental issues and the history of the northern regions. The second was long-term, including attending lectures and practical classes at Hokkaido University, working in the laboratory, attending the conferences and other scientific and educational events.


-  ‘The archaeological field school took place in the far north of Japan on the Rebun island. Students from all over the world who were interested in archeology gathered there, and working in such a team was very interesting and useful at the same time, because it was a language practice, an exchange of experience, and new impressions every day.’Maria Kuznetsova commented on.


In addition to the practical stage, two theoretical specialized courses were also held as part of the summer school: “Introduction to Far Eastern and Arctic Studies: Environment, Culture and Sustainable Development” and “Past and Present of Hokkaido: The History of Ishikari and Sorati”.


- ‘Every course was very eventful. We were given lectures by Japanese and Russian professors, invited scientists from other countries, and scientific researchers from various organizations in Japan. We discussed all the material in groups, the working language was English. In addition, we had a number of interesting excursions in Sapporo and the nearest cities. An exciting moment was the official reception of Andrey  Fabrichnikov, the Consul General of the Russian Federation in the city of Sapporo, ‘ - the student commented on.

After the summer school, most of the participants came back to their cities, but some of them, including the student of ISU, stayed at Hokkaido University for a long-term internship. Maria could choose the subjects. Maria took the opportunity and tried to enrich her baggage of knowledge as much as possible. The specialized courses became obligatory for her: ‘History of Ancient Japan’, ‘History of Medieval Japan’ and ‘Studies of Ainu and Indigenous Peoples’. Her check-list also included such subjects as ‘Economic Geography’, ‘Japan's Regional Geography’, ‘Cultural Anthropology’, and even ‘Musical Psychology’.

Furthermore, the Irkutsk student considered it compulsory to attend Japanese courses, offered free of charge by the Hokkaido University. It should be noted that Maria has been studying Japanese for almost 10 years, so the courses were the great opportunity to consolidate the material, which she learned over many years.

- ‘I was lucky to do scientific paper under the guidance of Professor Kato Hirofumi in the structural department of the Hokkaido University - the Center for Researching Ainu and Indigenous Peoples. The work was carried out in two directions: on the one hand, I studied kofuns, the Japanese burial mounds of the 3rd-7th centuries, and on the other, I analyzed the new Ainu law and the Ainu policy of the Japanese government. I should note that students studying under the RJE3 program have unlimited access to the scientific library of Hokkaido University, so I had a great opportunity to select sources and literature on the topic of my research,’ - said Maria Kuznetsova.

The ISU student visited many places for the period of six months: during archaeological excavations on the Rebun Island, as part of her scientific work, she visited the Amami Islands, with Professor Kato Hirofumi and Professor Peter Jordan from the Netherlands University of Groningen, she went to Hakodate and worked in Sapporo.

- ‘During my study at the Hokkaido University, I met historians and archaeologists from all over the world, discovered a lot of new things, improved my skills in foreign languages, and also prepared a serious foundation for my further scientific work. Without any doubt, I can say that participation in this program opens new horizons for students and provides invaluable experience. It is important that everything went as comfortably as possible thanks to the support of the ISU International Office and the central office of the RJE3 program at Hokkaido University,’ - Maria Kuznetsova commented on.

Twenty four ISU students have visited Japan for short-term and long-term internships under the RJE3 program. Furthermore, seven ISU teachers went to the University of Hokkaido as lecturers.

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