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Bridging the Gap Between Her Past and Present: Savannah's Summer in Japan

Savannah Salas studied abroad at Josai International University during the Summer of 2023 on the Faculty-Led Education Abroad Program (FLEAP) in Tōgane, Japan. Though she is a Microbiology major, Savannah enrolled in the four-week Media and Cultural Studies program. Associate Professor Setsu Shigematsu led the group of 20 students.
"I strongly wanted to study abroad in Japan to immerse myself in the fascinating world of Japanese culture and language. My mixed background, part Japanese and Caucasian, always intrigued me. Unfortunately, I was never taught much about my Japanese heritage. I hoped to bridge the gap between my past and present, understanding my heritage in a profound, meaningful way.

My grandmother, who immigrated as an adult to the U.S. in the early 1960s, shared limited stories about her past, leaving me feeling disconnected from my Japanese identity. Whenever I asked her if she could teach me the language, she insisted that I study English. The feeling of missing a vital part of myself, like an incomplete puzzle, persisted for years.

My favorite day in Japan

The FLEAP group in Hiroshima, Japan (Summer 2023).

Despite the fact that it was one of the saddest days of my life, my favorite day was in Hiroshima, Japan. It was an emotional experience for me as I walked around the site where an atomic bomb had caused massive destruction and loss of life.

In Hiroshima, I felt profound admiration and sorrow for the survivors and victims. It was almost as if I could feel the presence of the countless victims who lost their lives to the atomic bombing. When I visited the Atomic Bomb Dome and the Peace Park Memorial, I learned the value of history so that these atrocities are never again committed.

As we celebrate Hiroshima's resiliency and expansion, we must never lose sight of the human cost of war and the significance of working toward a more peaceful and understanding world. Following our visit to Hiroshima, I understood that the city's story is not just one of death but also of renewal, hope, compassion, and the necessity of cherishing and maintaining the memory of those who perished in the atomic bombing.

Activities on and off campus

As an undergraduate lab assistant at the UCR Manosalva Microbiology and Plant Pathology lab, I contribute to research in the field. Off-campus, I volunteer at a local food drive and teach as a Sunday school teacher at my church. In my free time, I enjoy crocheting and solving puzzles."

More Information

    Connect with Savannah Salas on LinkedIn.
    Read about education abroad opportunities like Faculty-Led Education Abroad Programs (FLEAP) at UCR.


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