George Mason University

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Graduation profile: Mason senior studied in Japan, engaged in internships

May 17, 2018   /   by John Hollis

Darian Randle, global affairs, was selected for the Kakehashi Project, a study abroad program for emerging leaders. Photo by Evan Cantwell.

The intricate give-and-take of diplomacy has always fascinated George Mason University’s Darian Randle, so the senior global affairs major and member of the Honors College jumped at the chance to learn about it up close in Japan.

Randle was one of 18 African-American college students from around the nation selected to participate in the 2018 Kakehashi Project, a study-abroad program for emerging leaders that was jointly sponsored by the Japanese government and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Inc.

“It was an eye-opening experience,” he said. “I loved every second of it. Eight days wasn’t nearly enough.”

The program, which took place in and around Tokyo March 22-29, aims to increase African-American student exposure to global opportunities and Japanese culture.

Their stay included a stop at the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where the students were treated to a lecture on Japan’s post-World War II history, the country’s evolving relationship with the United States and the significance of always improving on that relationship.

An aspiring diplomat, Randle said he welcomed the opportunity to hear things from a Japanese point of view.

“You never hear anything from the other side, even though they’re our allies,” he said. “I think that’s really important in international relations and diplomacy.”

Other activities included tours of cultural and historical landmarks, including a countryside stop at a temple that has stood since the 14th century, which Randle enjoyed immensely. The students also visited leading technological companies Honda and Toyota, where they were view some of the companies’ latest innovations such as Honda’s new robots and Toyota’s hydrogen-fueled car.

Benefitting from that kind of exposure was the idea, said LaNitra Berger, the director of the Office of Fellowships within Mason’s Honors College.

“This is the type of thing that builds confidence, but it also opens up a world of opportunities for him,” she said.

Students were assigned host families with whom they could spend a weekend. Randle spent part of his home visit helping the family plant Japanese orange tree seeds for next year’s crops.

The trip was his first to the country, but Randle isn’t entirely a stranger to that side of the world. The 22-year-old St. Louis native began taking Chinese while in high school and has studied both Chinese and Japanese history.

The opportunity to go to Japan was just the latest of Randle’s many accomplishments. He interned with the Department of Homeland Security as a volunteer scholar from June to August 2015, and was also an executive intern for the nonprofit Atlas Corps from January to May 2017.

Randle also served as a peer mentor who helped freshmen with their research skills. In his free time, he plays bass in a jazz quartet.

“He can be soft spoken,” Berger said, “but he’s got all this great stuff going on.”

Topics: Graduation