Patrick Newell is a 21st century learning specialist, an ideas activist, and a proud TEDster. An innovator to the core, he founded the Tokyo International School 19 years ago and co-founded TEDxTokyo, which has been bringing together thinkers and innovators to share ideas since 2008.
Patrick recently gave a lecture and workshop on presentation skills for about 80 Japanese high school and college students as part of the U.S. Embassy Tokyo’s “American Dialogue.” American View sat down with him before the program for an exclusive interview on the benefits of studying in the U.S.
American View: What are the advantages of studying in the U.S. for Japanese students?
Patrick Newell: The United States of America is a humongous country. I come from California, and the state itself is larger than Japan, with a very similar shape. So when you study in the United States, it’s almost like going to five or six different countries in one country. I think that’s one real advantage of going to America, because it is so diverse and offers so many opportunities.
American View: Why should Japanese students choose to study in the U.S. instead of going to other countries or staying in Japan?
Patrick Newell: The most strategic relationship in the world for Japan is with the United States. Until you’ve smelled the smells and tasted the tastes and had conversations with the people there, it’s very difficult to understand the country. Because of the importance of the U.S.-Japan relationship and America’s diversity, I think the United States should without a doubt be the top choice for Japanese students going overseas.
American View: From the point of view of an employer, what are the benefits of hiring someone who has international experience, such as studying abroad?
Patrick Newell: Japan is at a really interesting stage in its history right now. It’s no longer a country that is producing many goods and products. Most things are now being outsourced to other countries, so the youth today will actually become global managers. What are the skills you need to be a global manager? You need to be able to communicate in English and have an understanding of how the world works in different cultures around the world. Without experience overseas, it’s very difficult to have that.
American View: Public speaking makes many people nervous, but it’s a necessary skill for anyone who wants to function in a global environment. As the founder of TEDxTokyo, what do you think is important to keep in mind when giving a presentation?
Patrick Newell: Actually the number one fear in America is not being shot by a gun – it’s public speaking. This is because people aren’t used to all that energy coming to them. There’s a lot of focus and energy on the speaker, and people feel very nervous and shy about that. One thing I would say is to take that energy from the audience, because the audience really wants you to succeed. They want you to do well. Take that positive energy and give it back to the audience and connect with them.
American View: How do you think the trend of globalization in Japan will develop by the year 2020, which is when the Olympics will be held in Tokyo and also the target set by the U.S. and Japanese governments for doubling the number of students studying in each other’s countries?
Patrick Newell: It’s such a wonderful thing that Tokyo has won the Olympics for 2020, because it has given people a focus to work toward. I think being global is extremely important moving forward and the way to do that is to experience other cultures. The Olympics is going to give people the opportunity to do that, and the goal of 2020 is going to help emphasize that.