Yoko Uesugi is an ICU student spending her junior year abroad at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is also one of five ICU students to receive the JICUF’s Study Abroad Scholarship for the 2015-16 academic year. This is the second year this scholarship has been awarded.
This interview is part three in a five-part series highlighting the Study Abroad Scholarship recipients. The scholarship is intended to support ICU students studying abroad in North America and was awarded to five students who are spending one year at Georgetown University, Middlebury College, Ohio State University, University of California, Berkeley and University of California, Los Angeles, respectively.
JICUF: Thank you for agreeing to do this interview, Yoko. Let us begin the interview by talking about why you decided to go to ICU.
Yoko Uesugi: Thank you for asking me to do this interview! I have many reasons for choosing ICU.
My mother is one of the main reasons. She graduated from ICU and we always lived near the campus. I went to kindergarten right next to campus and ICU was the first University I learned about. Another big reason I chose ICU is because of my love for the Harry Potter books.
JICUF: Wow, Harry Potter! How does that connect with ICU?
Yoko: The woman who did the translation of the Harry Potter books from English into Japanese, Yuko Matsuoka Harris, graduated from ICU! I really liked the books and wanted to go to the same university that she did.
JICUF: I see! That is a very interesting reason for attending. What are you studying now at ICU?
Yoko: I am primarily interested in theatre and film, but I am majoring in Art History and minoring in Peace Studies because ICU does not have courses in theatre or film. The Art History focus at ICU is very interesting and educational.
JICUF: I understand. Please tell me why you decided to study abroad at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and about your experience so far.
Yoko: Well, as I mentioned, I really love theatre and film. During my High School years I decided I wanted to go to UCLA because of its great film studies program. I searched for different Japanese universities that had an exchange program with UCLA; ICU was the best fit!
As for how it is going, I am about a month into classes at UCLA and I am taking three courses: French film, History of American Motion Picture and a Theatre class. They are all really great!
JICUF: Wonderful! How did you develop such a strong interest in theatre?
Yoko: I’m not sure when my love of theatre started. I have always liked to perform in front of people. In the 5th and 6th grades, my friends and I even started our own theatre club!
JICUF: Wow! That is a young age to be so dedicated. What types of productions have you been in?
Yoko: I played Gavroche, the little boy, in Les Miserables and little Simba in the Lion King.
JICUF: That’s wonderful! Please tell me more about your goals for the future. Do you know what you would like to do when you graduate from ICU?
Yoko: Well, I am really grateful to my parents for giving me this opportunity. It may be a different future objective than what you would expect, but one of my goals is to be able to take them somewhere beautiful.
I also want to create something important in theatre or film. I don’t need to create something really big, but I want to create something special that will make people really think about the world and peace.
JICUF: Those are very touching goals. Is there anything else you would like to share with ICU alumni and friends in North America?
Yoko: I am still so new to many things and I don’t know much about the world…I really want to say ‘thank you’ for this scholarship to study abroad. I am sure I will learn so much and I am so honored to receive this Scholarship. Please be in touch with me; I hope I can meet many people in the ICU community.
JICUF: Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions for the JICUF e-newsletter, Yoko. We hope you will visit the JICUF office in New York city sometime during your year of studying abroad!