America and Japan have had a very tumultuously intertwined history together. It comes as a wonder that our countries are such strong and committed allies now. That is certainly thanks to the efforts of great and wise people on both sides of the ocean. It is also thanks to the individual efforts that we all make, learning about each other. Japanese study leads to an appreciation of the language, the culture, and the people of Japan. Today we learned that one of the most culturally significant revolutions in the history of Japan was sparked, in part, by the U.S. threatening Japan with gunboats in an attempt to force the country to open up to trade. We also learned that, ultimately, a tremendous amount of good came of these events, as Japan began to import science and technology from the outside world. Emperor Meiji even began to wear western-style clothing. Studying these important events in history is always a fascinating endeavor. We learn about the fallibility of humans and the fragility of peace. We see the opportunities that embracing change can bring. We are reminded that there are two sides to every story. Betty Brown, one of the Academy's instructors, kindly and eagerly shared some of her vast knowledge about the events surrounding this time of revolution known as the Bakumatsu. For many Japanese history aficionados, this is an extremely intriguing time period. It seems many students today were convinced to spend some of their future study time turning their eyes towards the pages of history.
However, the workings of the Japanese government in modern times are equally interesting, as we learned thanks to an informative lecture by Dr. Lauren Bell, Professor of Political Science and Dean of Academic Affairs at Randolph-Macon College. Dr. Bell helped our members learn not only about Japan's government, but our own U.S. government as well. She followed up her presentation with some valuable advice about college admissions and applications during an open Q&A forum. As expected of our bright and motivated Academy members, they were keen to learn from Dr. Bell as they look toward their own futures.