Graphic communication professor Dan Becker’s class on Japan is a campus favorite. Students spend a semester studying Japanese life, capped by a two-week immersive trip to the island nation, where they experience the culture firsthand. They spend most of their time in Tokyo and the immediate surrounding area, paying special attention to arts, fashion, language, food, historical events, music, religion and popular culture. Past trips also visited Osaka and Kyoto, experiencing the oldest and newest Japan has to offer. For many, it’s an experience of a lifetime.
This spring, that opportunity vanished when Carroll canceled all student travel due to COVID-19. The students in NCE329: Japan - A Culture of Contrasts would not be embarking on a breathtaking, 13-hour trans-Pacific journey; instead, they were headed home.
Becker shared in their disappointment, but he was faced with an additional challenge: continuing to provide a meaningful cultural education to his students, from his own home to theirs.
Fortunately, he had an ally. Marissa Garretto ’17 was a former student of Becker’s who had gone on that trip several years earlier. Its impact truly changed her life—Garretto now lives in Japan, teaching at a school there. Becker was able to arrange a 6,200-mile Microsoft Teams meeting for his students with Garretto and several of her colleagues.
So, at 7 a.m. one morning in April, Becker and his students logged in from their homes and Garretto and her fellow teachers signed in from Japan and what followed was a lengthy first-person discussion of life in Japan. “The technology was awesome,” said Becker. “Everything worked great. It streamed quite well. I deeply appreciate all the efforts made by ITS (Carroll’s Information Technology Services) and everyone else for the work they put in getting us ready to go online and for the training they provided. It made all of this possible.”
Learn more about the praise Carroll's informational technology team has garnered during the pandemic. >