Japan is a proud country, full of politeness and respect. Each person seems to have a place and the work environment is full of team building, company development and individual challenges.

Carissa McCann admires breathtaking waterfall at the top of Mount Mitake in Tokyo-Shi. (Photo supplied)

My internship in Japan launched a series of questions and passions I had yet to discover. At 23, I finally learnt to be a child. I refer to Nietzsche’s theory of personal enlightenment, where ‘the child’ has learnt to question the fabric of their epistemology and envision a life of wonderment. And that is what Japan was: wonderment. Around every corner was a new experience. Whether it be a fantastical shrine, the challenge of changing to suit a new working environment or, under the guidance of a new language, discovering cultural difference—I found the balance Japan so highly regards. This land of the rising sun became a new chapter in my life. Japan embodied the very dawn I was hoping to see. I climbed mountains, saw the world’s largest man-made island, ate with the locals and lived as a part of Japan.

Over the Summer I undertook an internship at Education First (EF) Japan, a language company with offices in 116 countries. This truly international company personified the textbooks I have been reading for the last 5 years as the working PR model. Discovering the workings of a new country felt like living in the pages of an international relations textbook, with highlighter scribbled across the section which says, ‘Australia’s future in Asia’.

Each crane donated to the shrine is reused in paper tickets and leaflets about peace and Hiroshima. (Photo credit: Flashpack Japan)

Immersed in the art of origami, I folded my being. Each design project at EF enveloped my attention, each menial task became one of learning. I learnt the importance of branding and the culture it espoused. When creating Welcome Back Kits, I discovered an integral part of EF development. EF sends students to various countries and provides them the tools to learn languages while experiencing culture at a grassroots level. Welcome Back Kits serve to better the EF’s service through feedback and embed EF mentality into returning students: to open the world through education. Each student has to opportunity to become an ambassador, attend networking events and become part of the EF family, culture and brand. Streamlining these Kits was therefore essential for the promotion, maintenance and development of EF.

As I explored the streets in Japan I was exposed to the aftermath of war. Hiroshima stands as a persistent reminder of ruin and majesty: each folded crane, a promise and wish for peace; each bell rung at the Child’s Shine, a song of remembrance. Although the shock of this sight has imprinted in my mind, it is the intricacy of Japanese life I will most remember.

(L to R) Global Interns: Felicity Beikoff, Laura Kyle, Rochelle Harding and Carissa McCann at the ‘Five Storied Pagoda from Toshogu Shrine’ in Nikko. (Photo supplied)

Just as EF embodied innovation and branding, so did Japan—its culture and way of life leaving a lasting impression on me.”

Throughout my internship I taught at various schools. I believe education forms the heart of a culture. Australia’s heart forms connections through historical engagement and by teaching critical thought, creates minds of innovation. Japan’s heart endorses teamwork, pride in the simplest of task and a respect that is revealed in each aspect of Japanese culture. Each system has its strengths, just as each can learn from the other. Australian and Japanese relations will continue to grow the hearts of the young and actions of the countries.

If International Relations theory has taught me one thing, it is that through partnership a country will thrive. Protectionism can only get one so far. My experience in Japan has taught me the importance of collaboration as balanced with individual certitude. I think this applies to both myself and to any nation.

As an individual I have much to learn and to share, as a nation we have much to give and to discover. Going global with the Griffith Asia Institute has shown me the importance of being a paper crane. Each new experience creates a new fold, which builds off the next and so on. Until one day my compiled experience and connections will develop into wings. Wings which will allow me to soar.


Carissa McCann, Griffith Asia Institute Global Intern, EF Japan, Summer 2018.