My name is Charlene Clark-Manzanares. I am a Denver native who recently earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration from UW. Now I am working on my International Law degree at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law in Tokyo, Japan.
Each day, when my son and I leave our guesthouse, we pass by the ancient Sensoji Temple. We are often enchanted by the thick smell of incense and the aura of calmness and tranquility that surrounds it. When we pass through the temple courtyard, the tempo quickly changes to a bustling market, with paper lanterns, shops, and an array of restaurants lined with the bright neon signs, all located inside the temple gates.
As I make my way through the crowds to board the subway, I can see the Asakusa Shrine. Behind it is a five-story pagoda peeking through the trees next to the Sensoji Temple. Opposite the temple is the prominent Tokyo Sky Tree, next to the Sumida River. When I pass through on my way home at night, the crowds are gone and the Tokyo Sky Tree lights up the sky in its colorful grandeur. It is the tallest free-standing broadcasting tower in the world. At these times, I contemplate the seamless blend of antiquity and modernity in Tokyo.
At Temple University, their motto is “where law meets life” and the faculty are a true reflection of this. Each of my professors is a practicing international lawyer. Instead of hearing lectures from casebooks, we receive experiential training. In my East-West Negotiations class, for example, we look beyond Western logic and explore negotiating agreements in the Asian context. To do this, we are given real-life scenarios, which require us to meet with opposing counsel and participate in negotiations. My classmates are from very diverse backgrounds and cultures. As a group, we represent nearly every corner of the globe.
Recently, one of my classes went on an outing to the Japan Supreme Court where we met Justice Ohashi. We were all pleasantly surprised when Justice Ohashi learned our names and questioned each of us socratically about the U.S. Supreme Court while explaining the differences in our judicial systems. Our class also had the pleasure of attending the Yokozuna, or Grand Champion, Sumo Tournament in Kokugikan, Japan. Both visits to the Japan Supreme Court and to the Sumo Grand Championships presented a rare, if not a once in a lifetime, opportunity.
I am midway through my semester in Tokyo now. I have developed cross-cultural skills and enhanced my global understanding. I regard this experience as true blessing and I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to study here.