5Q with anthropology, sociology, and philosophy student Shizuka Ebata.
1 - You did a presentation at the U4 Conference at Acadia and are now doing an independent study course on a related topic. What is the topic?
I talked about my experiences as an international student; my efforts to experience “Canadian university life” and the role different student groups play for and against this. I talked about whether we need a Japanese Student Association. I wondered about categorizing people as being from a particular place. What is the role of those nationality associations and who can belong?
At first, I thought that as international students we should just reach out to Canadian students. In that way, I thought the cultural gap or misconception would decrease. I now find it interesting that when I was trying hard to be “multicultural,” I was actually limiting myself by judging whom I should advocate the cultural issues to. Now, I simply appreciate meeting all the good people here.
The conference encouraged me to explore this topic and now I am working on my independent study with sociology professor, Dr. Poteet. I want to explore a broader issue about the shared experience that form identity for international migrant youth.
2 - Why did you choose to come to Mount Allison?
I was looking for a liberal arts school. I really like this style of education because you can choose different disciplines to study. There are not many schools that offer this in Japan. So I thought why don’t I just study abroad and then I can actually meet some international people as well. I chose Canada because I have always had a good image of Canada. Also one of my high school teachers was from New Brunswick and he was always talking about Canada. I find that Mount Allison is a very good fit for me.
3 - You have taken training to do the Japanese tea ceremony and you performed it for your anthropology of performance class. Why is the Japanese tea ceremony important to you?
Even before I started learning the tea ceremony, I would drink tea with my grandmother. She liked making tea every morning and that was my past connection with her. I think the time making the tea is the really important thing, relaxing and, perhaps, thinking about nothing. I spent time away from Japan when I was small in South Africa. This makes me seek Japanese culture more. When I went back in Grade 8, I started to do the tea ceremony.
4 - What do you find valuable about anthropology?
I wanted to take anthropology before I even came here. I have lived in Thailand as well as South Africa and I am interested in how people have so many different cultures, but it also seems that everyone has similar ideas too. We have looked at the connections between people and how cultures change through interacting with other cultures. How people connect with friends, plants, materials, and lands.
I find my minors in sociology and philosophy are connected to anthropology. Anthropology focuses on people and culture and sociology looks at a broader picture, at society, the function of institutions, intentions of policy, and how society changes. Philosophy looks at how people think about these things. How people see what a culture is or how they try to make moral decisions. I find the three complement each other.
5 - What kind of volunteer work do you do?
When I took Dr. Walker’s anthropology class in my first year we talked about food issues and she showed me the documentary Food, Inc. This got me thinking about environmental issues. So, when I went back to Japan after my first year, I did an internship with Greenpeace. On campus, I try to go to events about this issue and volunteer for environmental groups. At the end of January we had a Climate Change Week, which is organized by EOS Eco-Energy Inc. in collaboration with many organizations on campus and in town.