As a part of every SIT study abroad program, students must complete an Independent Study Project, or ISP. Usually the ISP has something related to the overall theme of the program and consists of a 20-30 page paper (depending on the program), and an oral presentation on your topic. This SIT Samoa program is about traditional societies transitioning into the modern world. It talks about traditional life in Pacific communities, and how it has been changing overtime with globalization. Because of this broad scope of ideas, we are allowed to have a great deal of freedom with our ISPs. Students have looked at religious views of tattooing, Samoan beauty pageants, and the presence of traditional stories and legends in contemporary society. There are so many options one can choose from.
My topic is about the Japanese International Cooperation Agency and education. As a small island nation, Samoa is still developing many of its social and economic infrastructures, and Japan has been a big aid donor to Samoa to develop these things. I found this very interesting (especially as a Japanese major at Hope), and therefore I am looking at the role JICA and Japanese aid plays in developing educational opportunities in Samoa.
ISP research consists of interviews, surveys, and data research. It was really interesting to go out and meet many different people and ask them questions about JICA and the Samoan education system. I learned a lot, and I really enjoyed the process (though at times was frustrating when people would not get back to me or I could not find the information I was looking for).
The ISP period began November 6 and lasts through December 2 when we present our findings. As of right now, I sent in my ISP paper and will present it in just a few days. And although I am a bit nervous, I am relieved that the paper is done and all I have to do now is work on the presentation.
My advice to those thinking of going on an SIT study abroad is this. Do not put off your ISP research. Three weeks at first sounds like a lot of time, but that will change really quickly when you are thrown into it and you need to work around people’s schedules. That said, I learned a lot about how to do academic research, and I had a lot of fun doing it.