“I Learned How to Learn”*

PRIME 2011, NICT Keihanna Research Labs, Kyoto, Japan

PRIME combines the benefits of study abroad experiences in preparing students as global professionals with the practical skill sets offered by a research internship. The application process in itself requires proactivity on the student's part in establishing connections with local and overseas mentors and researching resources for developing a project he/ she has an interest in. In addition to receiving a single academic credit, being provided a stipend, the student's own interest in the project should be the main motivation that sees the project to completion. Students inevitably encounter instances that require strong self-management and heavy critical thinking. Beyond just the summer, it is a prime opportunity to build real and lasting relationships. In this paper, I address how my experience in PRIME allowed me to learn skills that are difficult to obtain in a standard university classroom setting.

*Excerpt from Experiential Learning: PRIME in Japan in “Education in Action,” pp. 37-42


“A Graduate Degree No Longer Seemed Out of Reach”*

PRIME 2009, National Institute for Information and Communications Technology (NICT), Tokyo, Japan

How do you describe interning and living in Tokyo in 300 words? I could begin with a few visual words – glamorous, compact, vibrant, modern, historic – and try to explain why I picked those adjectives. Or I could talk about things that still flash into my mind now and then – the unique personalities of each district and the warmth of people. But I won't limit you to just that. Prior to my departure, I prayed and hoped for a purposeful trip; I did not want to be just a visitor. I arrived at Narita Airport without any expectation of what life in Tokyo would turn out to be. And I completely fell in love. But perhaps not for the same reasons why many of my peers do. Japan’s (and Tokyo’s) charm is not just about its fashion leading role, pop culture, embracement of other cultures, or well-developed public transit system. The environmental awareness, culinary art, cleanliness, and preservation of history and nature are more than just inspirations. The reasons are beyond my admiration for people's work ethics, mannerism, consideration, hospitality, and relationships among each other.

* Excerpt from Tokyo: Inspired and Shaped in “Education in Action,” pp. 315-319


“I Learned to Think Like a Scientist”*

PRIME 2011, Cybermedia Center, Osaka University, Osaka, Japan

Through the NSF-funded PRIME program, and its innovative learning infrastructure, I have been able to grow and mature significantly in a short period of time. This past summer I traveled to Japan as a "scientific ambassador" representing UCSD. This cultural immersion research program has sent students on international collaborative research projects since 2004. All of my research experiences in the past have helped me diversify my interests, but this international experience helped me connect everything back together in a single interdisciplinary effort. Not only have I learned to think like a scientist through independent study, I understand more of the responsibilities that a scientist must accept. Our job is not only to learn but to educate as well, promoting active learning and awareness of important scientific issues. Through the study abroad education of the PRIME program, I have been able to experience firsthand the impact of a first-rate science education. My summer experiences directly led to many community outreach opportunities involving public presentations and teaching. The PRIME program has helped me realize the qualities of a great scientist. Beyond a well-developed scientific thought process, we have to directly pass on our research passions through teaching. This distinguishing trait is important in science, because not only is the job of a scientist to envision the future, we must also be able to share this future with society.

* Excerpt from PRIME'd for the Global Workforce: A Student's Perspective on the Impact of the PRIME International STEM Education Program in “Education in Action,” pp. 281 - 287


“The Most Enriching and Most Refreshing Nine Weeks of My College Life”*

PRIME 2011, Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan

PRIME is an excellent program that exemplifies experiential learning at its finest. Students collaborate extensively with professors from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and international universities to design a unique research project that is conducted abroad over the summer. A large part of this collaboration for me was made possible by Doshisha University. In this paper, I discuss the preparations and thought processes that went into creating my project, the cultural awareness preparations with PRIME (workshops, surveys, etc.), the cultural tidbits that I learned over the course of my stay, what I took away from my experience abroad, and how it has affected me as a person. I address how PRIME has helped me develop cultural awareness on a global scale and analytical skills to conceptualize the experience through self-initiation and self-evaluation. In addition, I discuss how the international symposium at Doshisha culminates in an informative exchange of ideas and research while building ties across cultures.

*Excerpt from One Student's Experience of Experiential Learning Pacific Rim Experiences for Undergraduates (PRIME) in Collaboration with Doshisha University in “Education in Action,” pp. 24-28


“PRIME Let Me Become Part of an International Collaborative Effort”*

PRIME 2011, Osaka University, Osaka, Japan

Every year the PRIME internship program sends undergraduates to different locations in Asia to work on a research project. Over the summer I went to Osaka University to develop a workflow for modeling proteins using computer clusters. The PRIME internship gave me an outstanding opportunity to develop independent, critical-thinking skills in a real-world research environment. I applied scientific concepts that I learned in my class, such as protein structure, to develop a computational workflow for predicting protein folding. While I received feedback from my mentors weekly, my fellow PRIME scholar and I independently completed the project together. This semi-independent research project allowed both of us to make errors, investigate solutions, and implement these corrections to create a fully functional workflow at the end of the internship. This form of trial-and-error learning forced me to think about where I went wrong and how to correct these mistakes. On a cross-cultural level, I enhanced my communication skills by interacting with Osaka University faculty and students daily. Because most of the students at the university spoke limited English, I had trouble communicating with them in the first week of the program. However, I soon adapted to limited communication by learning some Japanese and by being more patient in my conversations. By trying to explain the meanings of my sentences in many different ways, I ultimately became a much clearer communicator both in Japanese and in English. In addition, I learned about Japanese culture by going to many cultural sites and participating in festivals. I now desire to learn more about other cultures by studying or performing research abroad.

*Excerpt from PRIME: Providing Global Education in “Education in Action,” pp. 307-314,