When the 2018 IWU Freeman Asia Interns found out they were accepted to go abroad during the summer, they all met up for a picture. Students were able to meet each other and learn about where each person was going and then follow their journeys on the blogs.
I (Elisabeth Williams), on the other hand, as well as my site partner, were abroad during the spring semester. I could not be part of this meet and greet. I only knew the other interns who I had met previously. In fact, I took a whole Japanese class via skype! Three days every week I would skype into the classroom, where the other students going to Japan would get to see each other and I would be awkwardly projected onto the board. I did not know most of the students in that class until the end, and am still discovering students that I could not see through my camera.
Now that the fall semester is in full swing, it is the returning interns’ job to talk about their placements for the next round of interns. This means that, for the first time, I get to meet my fellow IWU Freeman Asia 2018 interns. One of the first activities planned was a poster presentation/welcome back celebration, held on October 2nd. The interns all prepared posters of their sites for this. Nathan and I also decided to bring some art to set on a table near our poster. As we interned at an artist residency, we were fortunate enough to leave with some beautiful works of art from our boss, coworker, and one of the artists. The pieces are usually on display in our respective rooms, but now get to be honored by the next possible interns!
There was a wonderful group of students who came through and asked questions about specific sites or any advice we would have. The poster format also allowed interns to go around the room and officially meet fellow interns. I learned about how some interns spent free time swimming with whale sharks, many took beautiful hikes, and each intern had a completely different experience than my own. I bonded with some other interns from Japan over our inability to converse fluidly in Japanese or how the food was far superior to that of the United States.
I also felt immensely supported by the faculty at this event. My faculty advisor, Dr. William Hudson, came and stayed almost the entire time, learning about the opportunities provided. Dr. Sheridan, who wrote my letter of recommendation, admired my poster and complimented my part in the music video. Professor Sather, who taught me in the Japanese crash course, made sure to check on my Japanese abilities. It was nice to see faculty members come of their own accord to learn about what the IWU Freeman Asia interns completed this summer. IWU continues to be a place that supports international studies and personal development, and I am honored to be part of the narrative.
Click the link below to see the Freeman Asia Music Video, edited by Payton Letko!