Philadelphia University students experienced new cultures and real-life experiential learning during study-abroad trips to Japan, Senegal, Finland and other countries during the spring break.
For the first time at PhilaU, seven students traveled to the ancient Japanese capital of Kyoto to learn about the production of Japanese handmade crafts.
“The experience was amazing,” said Sarah Ferguson, a senior textile design student. “Immersing yourself in another country and culture is something a classroom can’t do for you. If you want to know what it’s like, you need to pack your bags and get moving.”
Ferguson was so inspired by the traditional crafting methods she observed in Japan that she now wants to incorporate those techniques into her print collections. “I want people to see my collection and feel what I felt from this experience.”
The short course, helmed by Hitoshi Ujiie, associate professor of textile design and director of the Center for Excellence of Surface Imaging at Philadelphia University, introduced students to traditional Japanese handicraft techniques, allowing them to foster a deeper appreciation for Japanese culture and history.
In Japan, the PhilaU students toured museums, historical gardens and craft studios where they explored production mediums including touki (pottery), washi (paper), makie (Japanese lacquer sprinkled with gold or silver powder), nishijin-ori (weaving), yuzen-zome (hand painting with dyes) and takezaiku (bamboo).
“From all the visitations to master craftsmen in Kyoto, Japan, I believe the students have learned the ways of creating fine products in terms of mastery of skills and creative spirits,” Ujiie said. “Since we work mostly in digital environments at Philadelphia University, this experience will apply handcrafted control to their creative working processes.”
Students also enjoyed a special day trip to Northern Kyoto, sponsored by Kyoto Prefecture’s department of commerce, where they attended a paper-making workshop and enjoyed a sightseeing boat ride in the Japan Sea.
Other PhilaU spring break short courses included a trip for textile design and fashion design students led by faculty members Marcia Weiss and Rick Shain to Burkina Faso and Senegal in Africa.
Fashion merchandising and management students and graduate industrial design and global fashion enterprise students traveled to Hong Kong and China with faculty members Tod Corlett, Marie-Eve Faust and Tom Fung.
And faculty members Beth Mariotz and Anne Hand accompanied fashion design, textile design, and fashion merchandising and management students on a trip to study fashion in Paris.