In 2019, UMF piloted a new First Year Fusion (FYF) program that combines First Year Seminar with a week-long pre-orientation Experiential Learning program for incoming students. During Fusion Week, students join an intellectual community that is closely mentored by faculty as they travel to various locations across Franklin County, the State of Maine, and this year even globally with a new Fusion program in Japan.
The Fusion program permits you to start college with a solid foundation, close report with a faculty mentor, and new friends, all of which are important to success in college. After Orientation, your Fusion course will resume with the rest of your Fall classes though the intensive Fusion Week permits your FYF course to finish mid-semester, giving you a chance to focus on fewer course during the crunch of the end of the term.
First Year Fusion classes are part of UMF’s Research Learning Experience (RLE) program designed to prepare students for academic success and future careers.
FYS 100 Japan Through Time and Space
Sarah Maline, Visual Arts
Global Fusion Week (July 30 – Aug 10, 2023): Tokyo, Akita, and Kyoto, Japan
Almost 400 years ago, the great poet-monk-traveler Matsuo Bashô wrote that “every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” Your UMF journey begins with a pre-semester trip that travels to and through many of the unique Japanese places and spaces Bashô encountered in his journeys. We first visit Tokyo, the global city of light, movement and futuristic fantasy where we immerse ourselves in Japanese culture, history and food. We then travel to the far north of Japan’s Honshu island, to explore Akita with Japanese partner university students and faculty. We will arrive in time to experience the Kantô Matsuri harvest festival, visit an active local farm, and meet the legendary local Namahage demons who try to scare the laziness out of children and adults alike. We then travel to the ancient Japanese capital of Kyôto, exploring its narrow streets and temple paths to discover the places of old that still exist within this modern city. We will then take Japan’s famous bullet train back to Tokyo where we catch our flight back home and then regroup in the fall to continue our discussion with our Akita counterparts through a Virtual Global Experience (VGE).
During the trip, we will build our own individual tabi nikki, or travel diaries, drawing inspiration from historical artworks, the diaries of historical Japanese travelers and our own experiences through writing, photography, video and sound recording, and even drawing or painting—whatever processes you want to use to document your time in Japan. When we return to UMF, we will work together to create a group diary project to synthesize our experiences and share them with the campus and local community. We will also continue our partnership with our friends at Akita University through a project-based Virtual Global Exchange (VGE). In our final research project with Akita University students, we will analyze how our expectations and memories of the places we visited activate and/or alter our understanding of those places, and how places build and hold meaning through space and time.