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Graduating senior selected for prestigious Japan-America exchange program

May 11, 2012
 Chris Brown
Christopher M. Brown
EAU CLAIRE — A University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire senior has been selected as one of 36 American students to participate in the Japan-America Student Conference this summer.

Christopher M. Brown, Onalaska, is the first UW-Eau Claire student to earn a spot in the group of JASC delegates. A Spanish (business/professions) major with minors in Japanese, language studies and economics, Brown will graduate from UW-Eau Claire May 19.

JASC is a student-led exchange program, initiated in 1934 by university students concerned about the breakdown of bilateral relations prior to World War II. An equal number of university students from the United States and Japan are competitively selected each year to spend one summer month together, studying and analyzing Japan-U.S. relations while visiting four diverse regions in the host country. JASC alternates its host country every year, emphasizing the personal connections between two distinct cultures gathered together in one place.

"Despite studying the language for three years, I have never been to Japan," Brown said. "I applied for JASC because I thought the program would be a great way to see my own culture through the eyes of Japanese students before going to Japan with my own preconceptions about its people. I hope that JASC will give me lifelong connections with other internationally minded people."

JASC 2012 will explore the theme "Share in the Present, Connect for the Future: Strengthen Ties to Inspire Change." The 72 members of the American and Japanese delegations will travel as a group from July 25-Aug. 19 to four areas of the United States, based in the following cities: Dallas (Southern Methodist University), Madison (UW-Madison), San Francisco (University of California, Berkeley) and Seattle (University of Washington). During their travels, the delegates will be exposed to local cultures and college programs, and experience home-stay visits.

Students also will join roundtables to discuss seven topics related to the conference theme. Brown will participate in discussions about "environment and technology."

Brown assisted Dr. Patricia Quinn, special assistant to the associate vice chancellor for academic affairs, on a Blugold Commitment-funded project focusing on prestigious national and international scholarships and fellowships. (The Blugold Commitment is an initiative that provides UW-Eau Claire students with high-impact learning experiences, such as collaborative research, global immersion and internship opportunities, supported by differential tuition funding.) Quinn said the work Brown did for her gave him much material as well as a strategic approach from which he fashioned his application for the Japan-American Student Conference.

"Chris' journey at UW-Eau Claire reminds me of a train leaving the station — slow and easy at first, quietly but relentlessly picking up speed, and then positively unstoppable," Quinn said. "He's not only assembled an especially powerful array of course work — a major plus three minors — but reached well beyond this with co- and extracurricular experiences abroad, collaborative research, tutoring certification, and public service that reflects his dedication to diversity and sustainability. Above and beyond intellectual talent, it takes great heart and personal discipline to receive an opportunity like this. Chris possesses that winning combination."

Brown said he has several career goals, and they all relate to his blend of studies in some way.

"Right now, I am interested in translation and social media marketing," he said. "For the future, I am considering graduate school programs that blend Asian studies and journalism. I also would like to start some entrepreneurial ventures in East Asia."

Members of the JACS American delegation are supported by International Student Conferences in Washington, D.C., and members of the Japanese group are supported by the International Education Center in Tokyo.

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