History major Erik Stansaas attended Kansai Gaidai University (KGU) in Hirakata, Japan, in the spring of 2019 as part of a sister school agreement between Northland College and KGU. He is the third Northland student to participate in the program.
He spent his weekends taking the 200mph bullet train to see parks and historical landmarks including Nara, filled with deer and Buddhist statues, and Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park, dedicated to victims of the 1945 dropping of the atomic bomb.
Erik says he knew a bit about Japan but had only hints of the language. While there, he studied Japanese language and history and East Asian History Through and received an introduction to Hirgana, the simplest Japanese alphabet, and can now recognize and speak some of the language.
He also took Asian History Through Film and recommends the films to anyone interested in learning more about the East.
- The Last Emperor (1988) The story of the final emperor of China.
- Gandhi (1982) Mohandas K. Gandhi defeated the British Empire to win independence for India through non-violent protest.
- Grave of the Fireflies (1988) Animated story about a young boy and his little sister struggling to survive in Japan during World War II.
- Letters from Iwo Jima (2006) The story of the battle of Iwo Jima in World War II, told from the perspective of the Japanese.
- Heaven and Earth (1993) During the Vietnam War, a Vietnamese woman struggles on the streets.
- Picture Bride (1994) The story of a Japanese woman.