2020 Representatives Chosen For Technos International Week
April 22, 2019
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. –– Illinois Wesleyan University’s 2020 representatives for Technos
International Week will include students Anna Schultz-Breef ’21 and Seth Morgan ’22
and R. Forrest Colwell Endowed Chair and Professor of English James Plath, who will
travel to Tokyo this summer for the two-week cultural exchange, June 9-22.
IWU has worked closely with Technos International College for more than a quarter
of a century. Each year, the University sends three representatives to Japan to experience
Japanese culture and to interact with students at Technos. Supported by the Tanaka
Ikueikai Memorial Foundation, the Technos experience is an opportunity to broaden
“I find it so important to take yourself out of your comfort zone and experience the
world outside of the IWU bubble,” said Schultz-Breef, a theater arts major with a
minor in international and Asian studies. “I love going somewhere and experiencing
a culture different from my own and meeting new people, who may or may not share similar
“I was interested in being a Technos representative because it offered up an opportunity
to me that I've never had the privilege of experiencing, that being a trip to a different
country and the ability to see its culture firsthand,” explained Morgan, a design,
technology and entrepreneurship major.
As the faculty representative, Plath looks forward to the academic experience, as
well as the chance to explore a culture that has fascinated him since childhood.
“I was born just five years after WWII ended and I grew up in the 1950s, when Japan
was demonized, still, on patriotic war movies broadcast on TV,” explained Plath. This
was combined with manipulated aspects of Japanese culture introduced to Americans
such as Sumo wrestlers, yakuza gangsters, geishas, samurai warriors, judo masters,
bonsai trees, origami, anime, and kabuki dancers.
“To an adolescent, it was an intoxicating yet perplexing bombardment of exotica that
seemed to reveal everything about Japanese culture, yet nothing at all,” continued
Plath. “I’m most interested in seeing for myself, finally, some of those aspects of
Japanese culture that were beamed at me in, I suspect, highly edited and manipulated
images on the small screen.”
The collaboration between IWU and Technos International College is the perfect landscape
for undoing cultural misunderstandings. Through the many years of the program, Technos
International Week has fostered cross-cultural exchange, as well as opportunities
for professional growth for all involved.
Plath hopes to integrate what he learns in Japan into his classes through teaching
about Japanese film. “I hope to learn more about Japanese culture firsthand—enough
to satisfy my curiosity and also enable me to feel more comfortable showing and talking
about Japanese films in my Film Aesthetics course,” said Plath. “I’m hopeful that
being a Technos representative will give me the confidence to make observations about
elements of Japanese culture that now I feel unable and unqualified to do.”
For the students, the experience may well change the course of their personal and
professional lives. “We live in a world that’s more globalized and interconnected
than ever before,” Plath explained. “Because the University’s mission is to prepare
students to thrive and to lead in their future careers and endeavors, it’s crucial
that students develop broader perspectives.”
The student representatives are embracing the opportunity for growth. “I think the
realization that we are a part of a global society doesn't really come until we have
visited a foreign country and gotten to meet other people and understand their lives
and experiences,” remarked Morgan.
“I am fortunate enough to have been chosen to experience not only Japan, but the hospitality
and the honor to meet the students of Technos College,” Schultz-Breef said.
Technos International Week is just one of many opportunities for IWU students to immerse
themselves in new cultures and experiences. From studying abroad to undergraduate
research, IWU encourages students to step out of their comfort zones and into the
greater world around them.
“I’m getting an opportunity that would not be possible without IWU,” remarked Schultz-Breef.
“I think all students at IWU want to see more of this big magnificent world.”
In addition to involvement in International Week, Technos also looks to Illinois Wesleyan
graduates as potential language assistants. This year, senior Payton Letko ’19 has been hired as one of two English language assistants. Payton participated in
the Technos International Week as a first-year student, then returned to Technos the
summer after her sophomore year as an IWU Freeman Asia intern. More recently, she has been working with Technos to gather data for a senior research
The enduring relationship between the two institutions has led to many friendships,
collaborations, and countless acts of goodwill between members of different nations.
In its purest form, the experience represents the continual pursuit of knowledge,
cultural understanding and mutual respect.
“Learning isn't a sprint to a finish line,” said Plath. “Unless you want to be stagnant,
it's a never-ending lifelong jog.”