An Indelible Exchange

MATA student Juliette Perrier F25 discusses her experience with the Kakehashi Project
A group of Fletcher students poses with a Fletcher flag in front of Asakusa Shrine in Tokyo

A group of students traveled to Japan to participate in the Kakehashi Project. The Fletcher School asked them to reflect upon their experiences. Hear from Juliette Perrier F25 about innovations in research, technology, and the relationship between the United States, European Union, and Japan.  

A single email in my inbox altered my Fletcher experience. It was an invitation to apply for the Kakehashi Project, and I dropped everything to do so. Two months later, I found myself on a 12-hour flight to Tokyo. I was excited about the prospect of engaging with students from across the United States, learning from Japanese diplomacy experts, and exploring a different culture over the course of eight days. 

I came to Fletcher with a background in policy analysis and information delivery from various libraries, the Texas State Legislature, and the Council of the European Union. At an Asia-focused research think tank in Washington D.C., I wrote several grants for Japan-America education and research exchanges. Thus, I was well-placed to recognize and appreciate the enormous work and care that the Japan International Cooperation Center (JICE) puts into this years-old academic exchange. I was able to incorporate knowledge from each of my previous employments, as well as from a multitude of Fletcher classes and events, to inform the lens through which I synthesized the wealth of information gathered during this exchange.  

I went into this exchange equipped with a semester of Fletcher courses on global governance and transatlantic affairs. My goal was to explore the relationship between the U.S., the EU, and Japan, learning about how these three entities operate within diplomatic and commercial settings. I learned about Japan’s cutting-edge advancements within international and domestic contexts through visits to the Panasonic headquarters and the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature. The Kakehashi Project provided me with an invaluable opportunity to observe the combination of technological innovation with traditional notions of human-environment harmony.  

At Boston Logan International Airport, I met nine fellow Fletcher students who were embarking on the Kakehashi Project. I would not have crossed paths with most of these students otherwise because we were in different degree programs. I learned as much from my Fletcher colleagues a world away from ASEAN Auditorium as I did from the other schools’ students and ministry speakers.  

My memories of the Kakehashi Project are endless. While overlooking the valleys and peaks of rural Shiga Prefecture at Tarobogu Shrine, I joined my peers in threading the knots of an omamori, a traditional Japanese amulet, for good luck. After daily programming that included lectures by knowledgable government officicials and site visits to a number of research centers and corporations, I navigated the nighttime crowds of downtown Tokyo. One particular memory that stands out was when I practiced the elegant and precise movements of a Japanese tea ceremony during a cherished homestay with two other Fletcher students and a kind local host.  

I am grateful to have experienced these standout moments through Fletcher. The Kakehashi Project reminded me that diplomacy extends far beyond purely politics and strategy. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to observe cultural practices and daily life in a setting outside of my own.  

Now a proud member of the Kakehashi Project alumni community, I join hundreds of past participants from a vast variety of programs and backgrounds across the U.S. Through my involvement in the Kakehashi Project, I learned how to contribute more viewpoints to classroom discussions on diverse contemporary global affairs and to utilize this firsthand knowledge beyond Fletcher in future career settings, whether that be in the U.S. federal government or the EU sphere.  

I am grateful to the Fletcher administration for having coordinated the school’s participation in the Kakehashi Project, the Office of Student Affairs for accompanying accepted students at every step of the application and orientation process, the incredible JICE staff for their guidance during the entire journey, and my fellow Fletcher Kakehashi colleagues for some unforgettable memories on the other side of the globe. 

Juliette Perrier (she/her/hers) is a first-year student with the Master of Arts in Transatlantic Affairs joint degree program between The Fletcher School and the College of Europe.