Campus & Community

Harvard hosts Fulbright alumni

3 min read

Following on the heels of Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visit to Harvard on Sept. 9, Harvard is hosting the 50th anniversary celebration of U.S.-Japan cultural and educational exchanges under the aegis of the Fulbright Program, America’s premier international exchange program.

Harvard’s Fulbright Weekend (Friday, Sept. 20, and Saturday, Sept. 21) will bring together more than 250 former Fulbrighters from the United States and Japan, including some of the first Japanese students to come to the United States after World War II.

President Lawrence H. Summers will address the group on Saturday.

During his visit, Koizumi emphasized the necessity of bilateral educational exchanges. During the past half century, the U.S.-Japan Fulbright Program has pursued this goal. Since 1952, some 6,800 Japanese have come to the United States and around 2,000 Americans have traveled to Japan under its sponsorship to study, teach, or conduct research. Many of the Fulbright alumni who will be gathering in Cambridge for the Fulbright Weekend have gone on to become major figures in their respective fields.

“For many Americans and Japanese, going abroad on a Fulbright Fellowship was a life-transforming experience, their first real encounter with an entirely different culture,” observed Susan J. Pharr, Edwin O. Reischauer Professor of Japanese Politics and acting director of Harvard’s Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, which serves as secretariat for the Fulbright Weekend. “Looking back, it is hard to imagine a better way to rebuild relations at the grassroots between Japan and America, two nations that had been locked in war.”

“The impact on American and Japanese understandings of one another made possible by the Fulbright program is both on an abstract level – high culture, research, educational curricula – but also on an intensely human scale,” noted Ted Bestor, professor of anthropology and Japanese studies. “The Fulbright Program in Japan, and in many other parts of the world, really provided enormous opportunities for people to experience life across cultures.”

The celebration starts at 7 p.m. on Friday with “Five Japanese Virtuosi,” a concert at Sanders Theatre by world-renowned musicians, all of whom are Fulbright alumni: Nobuko Imai (viola), Ko Iwasaki (cello), Etsuko Tazaki (piano), Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi (cello), and Hiroko Yajima (violin), with special guest Donald Palma (double bass). Tickets are $25 ($10 for senior citizens). Tickets are free with a student ID at the Harvard Box Office.

On Saturday, a 50th-Anniversary Symposium will take place at The Charles Hotel in Cambridge. The symposium will include five sessions: “Presence of the Past” (chaired by Columbia historian Carol Gluck), “The Japanese Model: Past, Present, and Future” (chaired by Susan J. Pharr), “Translating Worlds” (chaired by Cornell literature and theater scholar Karen Brazell), “Exchanging Cultures: Representations, Media, and Public Culture” (chaired by Ted Bestor), and “Discovering America” (chaired by Seijo Gakuen University Chancellor Nagayo Homma). Over lunch, in addition to President Summers, Harriet Fulbright, wife of the late Sen. J. William Fulbright, will address symposium participants. The weekend concludes with a banquet and a final session, “Remembering the Fulbright Experience.”

For more information on these events, consult the Fulbright Weekend Web site