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Talk on "Japanese Students in New Brunswick," Fri. March 1st at 2:00 pm

Japanese Students in New Brunswick, 1871, William Elliot Griffis Collection, Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries

The Libraries invite members of the Rutgers community and the general public to a talk on “Japanese Students in New Brunswick” by Yasuko Ito Watt, Emeritus Associate Professor, Indiana University in Bloomington, on Friday, March 1, 2013 at the Alexander Library. The program will be held at 2:00 p.m. in the Remigio U. Pane Room on the first floor of the Archibald S. Alexander Library in New Brunswick.

In the mid-nineteenth century, the first Japanese students came to the United States to study science in an early example of technology transfer across international borders. One of the earliest was Kusakabe Taro, a young samurai from Fukui prefecture, who was sent to study at Rutgers College in 1867. Kusakabe was followed by many other Japanese, who found their way to New Brunswick through Rutgers' connection with the Dutch Reformed Church. The early Japanese students are documented in the William Elliot Griffis Collection in Special Collections and University Archives. Through her research at Rutgers University Libraries, Professor Watt has discovered surprising new information about how and why these early foreign students came to New Brunswick.

Yasuko Ito Watt received an M.L.S. from Rutgers, a doctorate in Applied Linguistics from Teachers College at Columbia University in 1991 and coordinated the Japanese Language Program at Indiana University in Bloomington from 1992 until 2008. She co-authored Nihon o shiro: People Who Played Important Roles in Japan's Modernization (2001) and Readers' Guide to Intermediate Japanese (1998). Her current research interest is the life of Kusakabe Taro, on whom she is completing a manuscript.

Professor Watt's lecture will celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the Sister Cities relationship between New Brunswick and Fukui, Japan, which had its roots in this early period. A visiting delegation from Fukui will be special guests at the lecture, which will be given in both English and Japanese. The delegation's visit and Professor Watt's lecture, originally scheduled for November, were postponed because of Hurricane Sandy.

A small exhibition accompanying the program will be on display in the East Asian Library on the second floor. For more information about the lecture or other free events being held in conjunction with the delegation's visit, please contact Fernanda Perrone, Curator of the William Elliot Griffis Collection, at or 856-932-6154.

This program is co-sponsored by the Centers for Global Advancement and International Affairs (GAIA Centers), Rutgers University Libraries, and New Brunswick Sister Cities, Inc.

Posted February 19, 2013