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東京大学公共政策大学院 | GraSPP / Graduate School of Public Policy | The university of Tokyo

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Nanum JEON (from South Korea) Class of 2017

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Since the last year of college, I strongly liked the idea of think tank to share knowledge to all, leading to informed policymaking. Naturally, I was so much attracted to Washington D.C., USA where hundreds of think tanks gather and make the unique ecosystem for policymaking and innovation. I spent almost one year in D.C. doing internships, exploring how think tanks help policymakers build a network and discuss policy options for the better future.

One of the internships that I did was with the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University. I worked for the Edwin O. Reischauer Center for East Asian studies affiliated with SAIS under the supervision of Professor Kent Calder. As Dr. Calder was a well-known scholar in Japanese studies, I got a lot of exposure to Japan’s political economy and their policies and I became so interested in them. One day coincidentally, a GraSPP professor, who joined as a panel in an event that our Center organized, had a chat with me, listened to my interests, and encouraged me to apply for the GraSPP. Without his advice, I might not have thought of studying at the GraSPP, which was a life-changing decision. Looking back, although it sounds cliché, life is full of surprises and I want to be thankful for that.

Internship at SAIS

In fact, there was another surprise at GraSPP. Although I learned a great deal of Japan’s policies at GraSPP, I learned a lot more about international development. Not only economics to understand developmental issues, but also roles of international organizations to address these challenges. Furthermore, a field trip to Jakarta, Indonesia with Professor Nishizawa and Professor Kawai was a truly eye-opening experience to know more about how international development projects were taking place in practice. With all of these learning experiences at the GraSPP as well as my strong interests in think tanks, Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) was just the right place to work after graduation. As many of GraSPPers may already know, ADBI is the well-known government-linked think tank that is dedicated to researching and discussing development issues in ADB member countries. My internship at ADBI during the winter break at GraSPP was also helpful in making this career choice. 

Field trip to Jakarta, Indonesia 

At ADBI, I worked as a research associate in the capacity building and training department for year and a half. My main jobs were to organize training programs for Asian mid-level government officials and policy dialogues for high-level policymakers with my supervisors and partner organizations such as OECD. Among dozens of programs for which I was part of the organization team, ADBI-OECD-ILO Labor Migration Roundtables in Asia in 2018 and 2019 were tremendously valuable ones in finding my own research interests to explore the increasing international labor migration within the Asia Pacific region.

ADBI-OECD-ILO Roundtable on Labor Migration in Asia

While organizing the roundtables and contributing to the associated report, I was able to learn critical roles of recruitment agencies that affect labor migration outcomes both in sending and receiving countries. Also, I got to know that the feminization of labor migration is such an emerging trend in Asia and the Pacific with the increasing aging populations in some counties like Japan to meet care demand. With these more focused interests in international labor migration and development issues in Asia, I was able to get a Ph.D. admission from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) that has one of the richest migration research centers globally. Although tentative, I am planning to research roles of labor market intermediaries, such as recruitment agencies, in the migration process; and dynamics between gender, race, and class in the international labor migration at UCLA.  

Without my experiences at GraSSP, my new journey at UCLA from this fall would not have been possible. GraSPP is a very unique place to learn public policy in Asia and to be competitive in a career as a result. Most of interviewers so far after graduation from GraSSP asked me about my experiences in Japan and GraSPP with a fond curiosity and respect. I hope you also to enjoy and learn a lot while you study at GraSPP and be a better version of yourself. Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for all of very kind GraSPP staff, professors, and friends that helped me spend truly meaningful time for the past years in Japan.