My name is Hisato Tamiya and I am a first-year MPA student. I am concentrating in International Finance and Economic Policy and specializing in Management. Three months have passed since I started my SIPA life. Before coming to SIPA, I felt uneasy because it was the first time I was leaving Japan to live in a foreign country; nonetheless, thanks to the Admission Committee’s dedicated help, I am really enjoying my SIPA life. In this column, my classmate Yoshihisa Kita and I will give you a snapshot about SIPA life.

Huge Diversity: Where the World Connects
This year SIPA’s degree programs have an entering class of  around 600 people from all over the world. I am excited to discuss a variety of topics with such diverse students. One of my favorite classes is “Politics of Policymaking” with Prof. Christopher Sabatini. In this class of around twenty people, we discuss a wide range of topics, such as foreign policy proposals for the next president, and policy proposals for India to implement conditional cash transfer. When we discussed how to create effective conditional cash transfer policies in India, our Indian classmates gave us concrete feedback. For instance, I was not knowledgeable about income inequality, living standards, and available statistics in India. These details are essential to make our discussion fruitful, and their advice enabled me to discuss policies as if I were in India as a member of a mission team for its development.

In addition, I see these lively discussions between professors and students happening even in a large classes, like “Accounting for International & Public Affairs” by Prof. Alan Brott. Moreover, all of my professors (including those who teach larger classes) work to remember all of our names and faces! When I studied and worked in Tokyo, I never experienced such diverse classes and active discussions, let alone have a professor work to get to know his or her students like my SIPA professors do. I can definitely say that SIPA is a place worthy of its catchphrase, “Where the World Connects.”

Broad Option of Classes
Since my concentration is International Finance and Economic Policy, I am taking these classes this semester:

  • Politics of Policymaking
  • Accounting for International & Public Affairs
  • International Finance & Monetary Theory
  • Decision Models & Management
  • Advanced Techniques in Excel
  • Data Management and Analysis in Excel

SIPA offers hundreds of courses each semester to accommodate the more than 1,000 SIPA students across our eight degree programs. In addition to wide range of classes in SIPA, we can also register for classes at the Columbia University Department of Economics, Columbia Law School, and Columbia Business School, for example.

Students can also attend special lectures by renowned speakers, such as Ban Ki-moon and Robert Merton Solow. When I attended a special lecture by Ban Ki-moon, he lively illustrated his duties in his current job, which gave us concrete images to what it is like to work in intergovernmental organizations. Not only that, I was very impressed his words: “we, who implement public policies, always have to keep both passion and compassion. These great opportunities motivate us to work for public.” For me, it would be impossible to easily obtain these opportunities if I were in Tokyo.

SIPA Community: Connect with Seeples
In order to discuss public policy, we need friends to have heart-to-heart talks. I believe that SIPA is one of the best places to make magnificent friends and counterparts from around  the world. To connect with one another, the SIPA community has more than 40 clubs. I joined the Japan Study Student Association (JASSA), which shares with the SIPA  community the beauty of Japanese culture. We even help prospective students learn more about JASSA and SIPA by listing information on the JASSA website. (Recently, I posted about SIPA’s curriculum.)

In the next half of this blog post JASSA , President Yoshihisa Kita will tell you more about JASSA as one aspect of SIPA life.

JASSA
Hi! Thank you, Hisato, for introducing me. I’m excited to share my experience in SIPA as a president of JASSA. There are several country/region specializing student bodies in SIPA. Among them, JASSA is focusing on Japanese culture, policy, and economy. This year, JASSA hosted a bunch of students-led events: a Japanese sake tasting, a roundtable on the mega-hit movie “Shin-Godzilla,” and a Japanese art workshop.

JASSA doesn’t only offer cultural events, as we invite a lot of policy experts from outside the Columbia community to participate in the program, such as high-level governmental officials from the Ministry of Finance/Bank of Japan, or executives from Japan Railway. We are pleased to offer opportunities for students to hear directly  from those who work in the policy field in Japan.

Last but not least, JASSA organizes our annual Japan Trip during spring break. This year, Japan Trip celebrated its 10th anniversary, bringing 45 students from 17 different countries to Japan. We traveled tirelessly through Kyoto to Tokyo as a one-week trip. We woke up at 4 am. to visit Tsukizi fish market, while staying up until midnight singing in karaoke. The trip impressed the participants so much that some of them totally changed their view toward Japan!

I think JASSA’s activities represent one of the high points in SIPA life. Students with diversified backgrounds contribute to SIPA community in various ways. It also provides me with opportunities to look back at my home country with different points of view. I am ready to welcome you as a Seeple to share cultures. See you at SIPA, where the world connects.