Intercultural Communication Center (ICC)Waseda University


Exploring Asian and Asian American Identities with the University of Richmond ICC Online Discussion Session Event Report

ICC Student Staff Leader


In May of this year the ICC was approached by two professors from the University of Richmond (United States) with the idea of collaborating on an event dealing with the issue of Asian and Asian American identities in higher education. I was asked to be a part of the team, and I was more than happy to participate, as much of my own research explores ideas of race and culture, and how these ideas contribute to who we are. As this was the first event that I saw from start to finish, it was not without its rough patches, but I thought that the result was a beautiful display of intercultural exchange and companionship.

Background and Motivation

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, there has been an increase in malicious acts against Asians and Asian Americans in the United States. Now that we live in a society which is ever increasing in diversity, it is more important for us to understand how best to live in harmony with each other.

As such, the aims of this event were two-fold. Firstly, we wanted to hold an event which opened up a conversation about what it means to be Asian in the contexts of the US and Japan. How do people feel about themselves, if they feel different, and how does this reflect on their identities. Could we find similarities between us, in spite of different backgrounds? Secondly, both the team from the University of Richmond and we here at Waseda ICC wanted to foster a relationship between our universities and our students. Intercultural understanding is one of the pillars of the ICC, and by working together and having our students mix with each other, we could build a meaningful bridge between our two universities.


Of course, there are always challenges to be faced when planning an event, but this one had the added obstacle of time difference. We had to navigate making plans and preparations mostly via email, which took time. Yet, everyone involved was positive and enthusiastic, which meant that there was plenty of motivation during the planning stages.

One worry we had for the event was that this topic would be too difficult or too awkward for our participants to talk freely about. Naturally, it is a sensitive topic. However, our participants were open, and also wanted to contribute to the conversation.


Looking back, as this was my first event that I had worked on from start to finish, I feel a huge sense of accomplishment. It is fantastic that we were able to host an event including participants from both sides of the world, and to have a meaningful and candid conversation about a topic which is rather difficult to discuss. Upon reflection, any mistakes I may have made during the preparation, or anything that was troubling all seemed so small in comparison to the great achievement of holding the event.

On a personal level, I had my own worries about being one of the main organisers and representatives from the ICC, as well as the host on the day of the event, as I am not Asian. Yet, in the end, it was not about who was hosting or organising, but hearing the experiences of those who are at the centre of the discussion. If anything, it was a reflection of true intercultural communication. This event really showed me what is at the heart of the ICC. It is a place that works to bring people together, to enhance our compassion for others, and to facilitate an understanding between people.

Pictures from the Event

After the event, an Instagram post was made to share the event with our followers online.
Click here to view the Instagram post (requires login)

Breakout Room with Dr. Bob Spires and ICC Staffer Nami  (image by ICC)

Presenters and participants  (image by ICC)

Presenters and participants  (image by ICC)

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