Philadelphia-1: Visit to Swarthmore College


Philadelphia was the first place that I lived in the United States (and my first time abroad). I was a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania for two years. It is over forty years ago. It was there that I had the inspirational encounter with Professor Howard Rasumussen, my boss at the time, who had a major influence on my future.

I departed from Haneda Airport on September 9th and arrived in JFK in New York City and took a three hour drive by car towards Philadelphia. I checked in at the Union League (1) which was built with the goal of supporting President Lincoln 150 years ago and is affiliated with the Republican Party. There are portraits of past presidents from the Republican Party.

After resting briefly, I headed towards Swarthmore College, where I met with President Rebecca Chopp. It has been three years since our last meeting.

Swarthmore College is a prestigious and top ranking Liberal Arts College in the US and is nearby Bryn Mawr College (where Umeko Tsuda (1 in Japanese, 2 in Japanese, 3) studied), and Haverford College (where Akira Irie, a well known professor of history at Harvard University and is an alumni of my high school, studied), together with which it comprises the Tri-College Consortium. There is a bus that runs between the three colleges.

I met with President Chopp, three Japanese women on the faculty, Kozue Tsunoda, Yoshiko Shiro, and Atsuko Suda (I have the impression that among the Japanese who have active careers abroad, many are women, thus I felt it was again the case this time). I also met with Dr. William Gardner, who teaches Japanese Studies (he has lived in Japan on the JET Program). We talked of many things for about an hour.

There are just under 400 students each year at this university. In their freshman year, all students live in on-campus dormitories and afterwards about ninety percent of students live in dormitories. There is no graduate school. As the students here are very talented and study hard, and the education level is very high, graduate schools welcome them with open arms.

This university is only a few kilometers away from where I used to live, so I went around the area, but everything had changed, with little remnants of the past. Only the train tracks remained the same.

It was a beautiful university campus and a nostalgic place for me. Time flies by quickly.