Eight students from Ehime University in Japan are spending three weeks at the College of Lake County to learn American culture and history, upgrade their English skills, tour Chicago-area attractions and make new friends. The group arrived Sept. 10.
The exchange marks the sixth visit to CLC in five years by Ehime University students, with which CLC has built a relationship funded partially by grants from the U.S. and Japanese governments. Conversely, CLC groups led by Dr. Ken Kikuchi, psychology professor, Patrick Gonder, English professor or Jill Bruellman, professor of English language instruction and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages certificate program, have visited Japan and Ehime University five times since 2012, in three-week field study trips.
In addition to an abbreviated English language instruction course, the visiting Japanese students toured the CLC Nursing program simulation lab. They also have heard faculty presentations about the U.S. and Japanese governments as well as a comparison of femininity and masculinity in Japan and the U.S. The students will visit CLC's Children's Learning Centers, practice their English with CLC Honors Students and spend the weekend with a local host family.
The students have also explored Chicago attractions such as Millennium Park, the John Hancock Center, Michigan Avenue and the Art Institute of Chicago.
The visit is proving rewarding for both students and CLC faculty. The students, most of whom are visiting the U.S. for the first time, have valued the chance to build their English skills and learn American culture.
"I have found that Americans are kind and gentle, and my mentors have been very helpful," said Hoshito Une, who is majoring in law and literature. A first-time visitor to the U.S., he said his English speaking ability already has improved on the trip.
Une added that he's impressed with CLC's size as well as the diversity of ages and ethnic groups.
CLC faculty have enjoyed the chance to further strengthen the bond between Ehime and CLC and prepare students for a web-connected, global economy. "Global awareness is a critical skill for the 21st century, and one way to develop this skill is through study abroad," Bruellman said. "Students have an opportunity to develop cultural awareness, flexibility and problem-solving skills. They learn about themselves, their country, their language and their own world view."
The two-way exchange is necessary for mutual understanding, noted Betsy Kubota, adjunct adult education instructor and trip coordinator. Besides practical details on lodging and transportation, Kubota discusses cultural differences and similarities with the students.
"We discuss Americans' beliefs in equality and individuality as well as our culture's emphasis on punctuality, friendliness and informality," she said. "This kind of cultural exchange is very important for students from abroad and in the U.S. to learn that their culture and country is not the only way to live. Americans and Japanese are more isolated geographically than some countries, such as European nations. Having an opportunity to visit another country, see how people live, experience a college campus and visit a host family goes a long way to building good international relations."
The students' visit will culminate Sept. 26 when the students will deliver poster presentations from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Student Street, displaying elements of Japanese culture they feel are important for Americans to know. The public and college community are invited to attend the presentations. The day ends with a farewell dinner with faculty, staff and peer mentors who worked with the students.
For information on CLC's range of international programs, including a three-week trip to Japan in late May and early June of 2018, visit www.clcillinois.edu/cie.