Experiential Learning Takes Freshmen to Japantown

Experiential Learning Takes Freshmen to Japantown

In their first interdisciplinary, all-class field trip, the Class of 2023 visited San Jose’s Japantown, bringing to life core ideas from Notre Dame’s Education for Justice & Leadership curriculum and the freshman summer reading book, When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka.

Students began their day on the light rail, which is easily accessible from campus, gleaning important insights and skills for navigating an urban environment. Dividing into groups, the students visited the Japanese American Museum, which features a replica of the barracks of Tule Lake, where the docent and her family lived for three years during the internment. “This field trip helped me understand on a more personal level,” shared one student. “It's different than reading about something in a book.” The students also listened the the church reverend speaking about Buddhism at the Betsuin Buddhist Church, experienced a taiko drumming demonstration and practice, an origami lesson and a qi gong class.

Interdisciplinary and experiential learning are important facets of a Notre Dame education, allowing students to learn by doing and immersing themselves in the topics and cultures they study in the classroom. Our location in the heart of downtown San Jose also allows for the development of important life skills such as navigating a big city, an environment that many of these students will encounter when they go off to college in a few short years!