Across 6,500 miles and 13 time zones – part 2


We’ve just begun our second collaboration between Alma College in Michigan, USA, and Omi Brotherhood High School (OBHS) near Kyoto, Japan.

Our 2016 programme involves 24 students, who have been drawn from:

  • Alma’s e-STEM Cooperative Research Experience (CORE), a five-week science summer camp for high-school students
  • OBHS science department
  • OBHS language department.

Our picture shows the students taking part in our cross-border team-building activity: a read-through of the sci-fi thriller “Europa Report”.

“If it’s not easy, it’s interesting”

The students began introducing themselves – and exchanging photos and videos – in a closed Facebook group last week. They also got some advice on working in a global team from Professor Kathrin Altwegg, who is part of the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission.

Rosetta made a historic rendezvous with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in August 2014; Kathrin’s team is studying the comet’s atmosphere. The members of her team are based across Europe and the US, and I asked her if she had any advice for our American and Japanese students about working across borders.

“You have to be patient, that’s the main advice,” she said. “It will not work the first time probably, so you have to try again and again and again. Cultural diversity means people don’t solve problems the same way. You have to be patient, never give up.”

So, it’s not easy… But Kathrin says that’s a GOOD thing. “I like to work with all cultures. Some are more easy, but the others are more interesting. If it’s not easy, it’s interesting! And you learn something from other cultures – if people are the same as you, you don’t learn anything.”

Published by Graham Jones

Astrophysicist and science communicator