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Building Connections Across Cultures


An interest in Japanese language and culture led Faby Alvarez ’22 to participate in the 72nd Japan-America Student Conference (JASC), a program that brings students from the two countries together to research, study, and discuss Japan-U.S. relations across a breadth of topics. The highly competitive program emphasizes building connections across cultures through reflective, educational conversations.

Alvarez explained that JASC comprises various “roundtables,” each of which has a particular research focus, ranging from the environment to identity. She participates in the Labor and Work Culture roundtable which, like the others, includes three Japanese students and three American students. Alvarez meets weekly with other American delegates and about twice a month with her roundtable’s Japanese delegates. Her group recently concentrated on learning more about women’s and LGBTQ+ rights in the workplace. Alvarez said she’s enjoyed “taking part in discussions that are relevant to both countries.”   

About Faby Alvarez ’22

Major: Dance and Movement Studies

Hometown: Miami, Fla.

High school: Cutler Bay Senior High School

Read about other students' experiences 

In addition to the individual roundtable discussions, members of different roundtables will have the opportunity to discuss their materials and impressions with students from other groups. Moreover, while JASC is remote this summer, the program plans to bring students together in Hawaii in January.

A dance and movement studies major and Japanese minor, Alvarez learned about JASC through  Japanese professor Kyoko Omori. She spent part of the previous summer working at On Your Mark! in Japan, where she helped high school students develop their English skills, and wanted to continue learning about Japanese life and culture. Alvarez said her supervisors at On Your Mark! had previously participated in JASC, which further encouraged her desire to apply to the program.

Alvarez appreciates how JASC has enabled her to learn about other communities and build global relationships. “It’s really cool to have friends and people to connect with across the world [and] to learn about gender and LGBTQ+ in the context of America and Japan,” she said. “It’s interesting to interact with people who grew up in a whole different setting than I did.”

In addition to participating in JASC, Alvarez has launched BreakThru Dance Company this summer. “I had always wanted to start a dance company. I think being at Hamilton and getting involved with groups like Sunrise [Movement], for example, have allowed me to think about all the ways in which dance itself is a privilege and how I want to be able to make that accessible to those who come from low-income backgrounds. The whole vision was to make it accessible and affordable and safe space for students of all financial backgrounds,” she said.

Alvarez hopes to eventually find a physical space where she can host BreakThru Dance, and ultimately, she’d like to run her own studio in New York City — although she would also be happy to operate a company in Japan.

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