VIDEO: USAG Japan Internship Program 2022

VIDEO: USAG Japan Internship Program 2022

by Daisuke Sato
U.S. Army Garrison - Japan

A group of Japanese college students recently completed the annual summer internship program at Camp Zama, Japan. U.S. Army Garrison Japan offers the four-week program to give participating students the chance to gain professional and language development skills in a U.S. military environment.

During the program, the students worked as assistants in various offices, such as U.S. Army Garrison Japan’s Command Group, Army Community Service, the Camp Zama Library, the Arts and Craft Center, and others, gaining knowledge about the U.S. Army’s mission in Japan through tailored assignments and interactions with their fellow participants.

Interview: Nao Handa, Junior, Toyo Women’s University
I realized that possessing a strong linguistic ability is very important.

Before I applied for this program, I was told that if you have the motivation, you can have a fulfilling experience. But if your supervisor is American and doesn’t speak Japanese, you’ll have to speak English and respond quickly. In Japanese schools, we don’t practice much on conversational English, so it was sometimes challenging to communicate with the Americans.

Interview: Himari Kashiwa, Sagami Women’s University I first thought that four weeks was a little too long for the program, but I’ve learned something new every day and gained a lot of knowledge of the U.S. Army in Japan. Now I now feel like each day has gone by so fast and I can’t believe I only have a week left.

I was so nervous that first week so I was only able to communicate in one-sentence greetings, but today I was able to talk to my supervisor about what I had for my lunch today and have a conversation. So I think I’ve seen a bit of improvement in my English skills.

Nao Handa was assigned to the U.S. Army Garrison Japan Command Group and was able to gain experience in a variety of office work that contributed to the daily missions of USAG Japan.

Interview: Nao Handa, Junior, Toyo Women’s University In working here, I realized how the leadership is very deliberate in listening to their employees’ input. That was the first impression I got when I started. Normally, the leadership makes decisions by discussing them with just the other leaders and then telling their employees to follow what they say. But the leadership at U.S. Army Garrison Japan is different. First they ask their employees what they think about an issue or problem, and they try to solve it at the lowest level.

Seeing that was good for me because when I start working at a company in the near future, this experience will help me to know how I should act as a leader or senior colleague.

Himari Kashiwa was assigned to the U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public Affairs Office and was also able to gain knowledge and insight into the on the variety work done in PAO.

Interview: Himari Kashiwa, Sagami Women’s University One of the main duties in media relations is to review various print and online periodicals, and gather relevant news articles. Before I came here, I would just occasionally keep track of the news and only be somewhat aware of current events in Japan. After I start reading several newspapers carefully in order to gather articles, I realized that there was so much terminology and abbreviations dealing with politics and the military that I didn’t know.

During their four weeks working and interacting in a largely American atmosphere, Nao and Himari both said they had some very unique experiences.

Interview: Nao Handa, Junior, Toyo Women’s University The most memorable part of this program for me, perhaps, was seeing the cultural differences between Japan and the U.S. For example, the food. I understand that Soldiers have to do PT five days a week, so I was surprised to see some of them eating things like hamburgers for lunch often.

The other cultural difference I noticed had to do with work. I had the opportunity to attend some meetings here, and I realized how different the atmosphere can be in an American professional environment compared to in Japan.

In Japan, when the boss comes into the room, everyone gets very serious and takes exhaustive notes on what the boss says. But here, it was a little different. Everyone seemed very relaxed and the atmosphere was more casual. What I was most surprised to see was everyone stating their opinion very openly, which you never see in meetings in Japan. Doing that in Japan is kind of a taboo, but through this internship I learned the importance of being able to state your opinion.

Interview: Himari Kashiwa, Sagami Women’s University One of the most memorable moments of this program was when some of other members in the office invited me to lunch. They asked me if I wanted to eat somewhere on the installation or if I wanted to go off base to eat sushi.

I said I wanted to eat sushi, but then I thought maybe I should have chosen somewhere on the installation since it’s more convenient. which I supposed to say on the installation. But after we arrived and start eating, I could see that everyone was happy to be eating sushi. So I realized it’s a global standard that everyone loves sushi.

Nearly 24 students from 12 different schools participated in this year’s internship.

The U.S. Army Garrison Japan internship program began in 2013 as a way to give Japanese college students the chance to understand and become familiar with the mission of U.S. Army Japan and Camp Zama.

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