An agreement with a Japanese university has made it a lot easier for the College’s students to experience life in the Far East.
Beginning in the fall, the College will revive an exchange program with Kansai Gaidai University, located in Hirakata, Japan.
The previously arranged agreement had been inactive for a while, according to Karen Jenkins, director of the office of Undergraduate Global Programs.
Two undergraduates from the College will go to Japan to take part in the Japanese university’s Asian studies program. According to the university’s Web site, this program accommodates international students wishing to pursue the Japanese language in addition to Japanese and Asian studies. The one-semester or one-year program currently attracts about 600 students annually.
Knowledge of the Japanese language is recommended but not required for the program.
The price for the semester or year abroad will not differ significantly from staying at the College. Through the tuition exchange agreement between the two schools, students from the College who go to Japan will pay their normal tuition amount to the College. They will be responsible for paying room and board fees to Kansai Gaidai University.
Kansai Gaidai University offers three housing options for study abroad students, including homestay, dormitory and off-campus housing.
Jenkins was impressed by the program’s focus on international students while also offering the opportunity to associate with Japanese students.
“It is a good structure that integrates (Kansai) students with foreign students,” she said.
Tim Martin, a senior psychology major who spent a semester at Kansai Gaidai University through the New Jersey State Consortium for International Studies (NJSCIS), agreed.
“It’s a great school,” he said. “I was surprised at how easy it was to make friends.”
Martin expressed satisfaction with the Japanese language classes as well as the university’s location in Japan.
“I like the Kansai area better than Tokyo,” he said. The city of Hirakata is midway between Osaka, Japan’s second largest industrial metropolis, and Kyoto and Nara, the ancient capitals of Japan.
Some of the College’s students have already expressed interest in the program. Joseph Susnick, sophomore international studies major, applied to study at Kansai for the next academic year.
“I want to teach English in Japan as a career,” he said. “The program will let me dispel any myths I have before moving there.”
Susnick said that he started out studying the Japanese language with an independent study and is currently enrolled in a 300-level Japanese class. He said that he knows enough Japanese to learn the language in a Japanese-speaking class.
As part of the exchange, the College will welcome two Japanese students from Kansai Gaidai University. They will be at or above the minimum English proficiency admission level set by the College.
According to Satoshi Hashimoto, assistant professor of modern languages, having native Japanese students at the College will benefit students taking Japanese language courses.
“Students have to know different people at different ages” that speak the language, he said. He added that students also need to be acclimated to different accents and speaking styles in order to effectively learn the language.
The effect on Japanese language courses at the College is especially important because of the national initiative on the teaching of critical foreign languages, announced by President George W. Bush on Jan. 5.
According to the U.S. Department of Education Web site, the federal government “will focus resources toward educating students, teachers and government workers in critical need foreign languages, such as Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.”
Hashimoto believes that welcoming students from Japan will allow the College’s students to learn firsthand about a different culture.
“I think that (the College) should be more globalized,” he said, noting that very few of the College’s students come from other countries.
According to the Kansai Gaidai University Web site, the university is associated with 280 institutions in 50 countries and regions, sending 1,400 Japanese students abroad each year. Any students that are interested in the Japan program can do research online through the office of Undergraduate Global Programs Web site or by visiting the Kansai Gaidai University Asian studies site at kansaigaidai.ac.jp/asp.