University of Southern California

USC Student Affairs and Campus Life

Norman Topping Student Aid Fund (NTSAF)

Summer Immersion Program in Japan (SIP)

For the first time, the Norman Topping Student Aid Fund and USC College joined forces to create a transnational American studies and ethnicity course for undergraduates. The month-long Summer Immersion Program in Japan (SIP) examined social issues, culture and community through the lenses of the Pacific Rim cities of Los Angeles and Tokyo.

George Sanchez, vice dean for college diversity, took the role of lead faculty advisor, and Christina Yokoyama and Felipe Martinez — NTSAF director and assistant director — served as lead staff advisors.

The 13 undergraduate participants began with five days of field trips and seminars exploring aspects of Japan in Los Angeles. They visited Toyota’s corporate headquarters and Little Tokyo museums as well as examining race and tourism at Disneyland.

They spent the next two weeks in and around Tokyo, where among other experiences, they visited “America Land” at Tokyo Disneyland, took a train to Hiroshima and met Japanese students at Kyoto and Doshisha universities. They also explored industrial Nagoya.

Topics addressed included the economic relationship between the U.S. and Japan, World War II history, cultural etiquette, tourism and global culture, the role of nationalism in sports and entertainment, and the comparison of relatively homogeneous Japan with the multiracial United States.

Students, faculty and staff have shared stories and photos on their America in Japan blog at uscamericainjapan.wordpress.com.

Contact: Christina Yokoyama, NTSAF Director, cyokoyam@usc.edu, (213) 740-7575