Ms Siphesihle Nxele and Mr Zane Watkins, both 1st year Chemistry Masters (MSc) students under the supervision of Distinguished Professor Tebello Nyokong recently spent two months in Japan to do some research at the Tohoku University in Sendai. The host at Tohoku University, Professor Nagao Kobayashi has been in collaboration with Prof Nyokong for a couple of years now and has also visited Rhodes on a few occasions, which includes a recent visit this year.
The above research collaboration is between Rhodes University, South Africa and Tohoku University, Japan and is funded by the Joint Research Grant under the NRF (National Research Foundation, South Africa) and JSPS (Japan).
Ms Nxele and Mr Watkins found the research visit beneficial and are very grateful for the opportunity and generous support from their funders, supervisor, host, colleagues and students in Japan.
Ms Nxele commented “when I finally arrived in Japan after many hours of flying, I was really surprised by the Japanese culture. It took a few days to settle in after being welcomed by Prof Kobayashi and his students and a group of other internationals in the hostel we stayed in. The experience was quite amazing. I had prepared myself mentally for the ‘6 day work week’ part of the journey. It was tough but I knew that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I was prepared to put in the work. As we all know when it comes to Chemistry, things may just not work as we hope they would but I learnt a lot by just observing my Japanese colleagues work habits and techniques when it came to conducting experiments. I do respect their work ethic and discipline. When it came to down time, in my mind, I was on holiday! I went sightseeing, enjoyed the Japanese food and more importantly, did some shopping just for control. I am truly grateful for this opportunity. I learned so much, met a lot of people from all over the world) and had the time of my life.”
Mr Watkins described his experience as “invaluable not just for research but in life experiences as well. I saw a lot of Japan, which really opened my eyes to what the rest of the world can be like, and I learnt to appreciate what we have here in South Africa. I also met many new people and made contacts in foreign countries both professional and social.”