Late last semester, UW–Madison professor Adam L. Kern sent an urgent, cryptic email to four of his students.
He summoned them to his office early the next morning, promising something “potentially extremely interesting and important, if not possibly life-changing.”
“If you already have plans, please reschedule them,” he wrote. “And I would please ask that you not tell anyone about this, at least not for the time being!”
Jeff Chiqui, a freshman from Chicago, opened the email and thought: “I’m in big trouble.”
He wasn’t. Kern, a professor of Japanese literature and visual culture, had been chosen for an extensive profile on a popular prime-time television program in Japan. The show’s producers wanted Kern to pick four students to accompany him on a free, week-long trip to Japan.