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August 4, 2022 at 4:02 pm

Japanese students return to Chubu with new English skills, fun memories

Chubu Students view President Kennedy's JFK Air Force 1 at Dayton Air Force Museum.

Chubu Students view President Kennedy’s Air Force One at Dayton Air Force Museum, one of many field trips the group enjoyed.

From Ohio University News

Chubu University students returned home to Japan in July after spending four months in Athens in an English as a second language program with the Ohio Program of Intensive English (OPIE).

The Chubu students—46 of them—studied abroad in Athens to improve their English skills, immerse themselves in American culture, and start to build their international network of friends and mentors.

Chubu student Takaya Mizutani really liked OHIO and wants to return for further studies.

Chubu student Takaya Mizutani, shown back at Chubu, really liked OHIO and wants to return for further studies.

Takaya Mizutani, for example, plans to apply for a Chubu scholarship to return to Athens to pursue a master’s degree in international studies. Upon returning to Chubu, he visited with Yeong Kim, an Ohio University faculty member who teaches in that program as well as in the Geography Department in the College of Arts & Sciences. Kim spent the summer at Chubu as the 2022 Kohei Miura Visiting Professor and was on hand to greet the students as they returned from Athens.

OPIE Director Gerry Krzic and Chubu student Ami Nakagaito display her program certificate.

OPIE Director Gerry Krzic and Chubu student Ami Nakagaito display her program certificate.

For Ami Nakagaito, the program improved her English skills, not just in interacting with someone in another culture, but also when reading material that is written in English, a key skill for students who want to pursue academic study or eventual employment in the United States.

“This experience is useful,” she said. “In addition, I want to expand my network not only in Japan but also overseas.”

OHIO students welcome Chubu students on a cold day in March.

OHIO students welcome Chubu students on a cold day in March.

“This program definitely will change your life,” said Mayu Kishita. “In this study abroad, I learned a lot of differences between Japanese culture and American culture. These things will make you better person. In the future, I hope I make use of this experience.”

Chubu and OHIO students packed 960 food boxes at the Southeast Ohio Food Bank.

Chubu and OHIO students packed 960 food boxes at the Southeast Ohio Food Bank.

“Don’t miss this important opportunity! Your English skill would be improved and you would know cultural differences,” added Kishita, who gave special thanks to “Gerry Krzic sensei and Joung Hee Krzic sensei,” assistant professor of instruction in Japanese in the Linguistics Department in the College of Arts & Sciences.

“The transformation we see in students in just four short months is amazing. Aside from improved language and cross-cultural communication skills, they also gain self-confidence and critical thinking skills, and most come back to Japan with a clearer vision of their future goals and aspirations,” said Amy Oya, program coordinator for the Center for International Affairs at Chubu.

“The on-site support from the OPIE faculty and staff, as well as the student helpers, give students a structured and safe framework from which they can test their boundaries and challenge new ways of thinking,” she added.

Chubu and OHIO students take advantage of a Thursday night study session.

Chubu and OHIO students take advantage of a Thursday night study session.

Modeled after the Peace Corps

This study program started almost 30 years ago, with more than 1,500 students having taken part.

What makes the Chubu program so successful?

“In OPIE, we used an experiential model like the Peace Corps when we designed this program in collaboration with our colleagues at Chubu. We want to make sure the Chubu students have an experience that gives them the opportunity to learn and interact with a broad spectrum of American citizens in a variety of contexts,” said OPIE Director Gerry Krzic.

The Chubu students’ itinerary includes classes and conversation partner programs with OHIO students, conversation hours that can include senior citizens, service learning at local public schools and community agencies, living with non-Japanese in the residence halls, and cultural trips off-campus.

Chubu students enjoy Conversation Hour with campus and community members.

Chubu students enjoy Conversation Hour with campus and community members in Athens.

Cultural excursions included some experiences beyond Ohio, too. The students visiting Niagara Falls, Mount Vernon, and Washington, D.C.

Chubu students at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Chubu students at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Krzic described the importance of guided reflection in the program: “We also build in guided journal writing so they can reflect on what they are experiencing. All of this allows them to improve their language skills and cultural knowledge and, most importantly, gain confidence in themselves. We see the results at the end of the program — the students have changed and grown personally and professionally. We hope they carry the lessons learned in this program throughout their lives.”

Chubu and OHIO students practice their language skills.

Chubu and OHIO students practice their language skills.

Joung Hee Krzic, the program advisor, provides the necessary support to help the students adjust to American culture.

“I see them mature over the four months,” she said. “They genuinely enjoy American university life even though sometimes it can be difficult, particularly in the beginning. By the end, the tears they shed are about their having to say goodbye to the friends they have made. It is very gratifying to witness and be a part of this.”

From left, Chubu students Mayu Kishita and Sakura Shiozaki Learn to Get Over It with sensei Joung Hee Krzic

From left, Chubu students Sakura Shiozaki and Mayu Kishita Learn to “Get Over It” with Sensei Joung Hee Krzic at OHIO.

 

Chubu students wear their showcase their new attire after their U.S. study abroad.

Chubu students showcase their new attire after their return to Chubu.

Entranced by the aura of Athens

As they debriefed about their learning experience, the natural beauty of Athens was a lasting memory for many.

“I was surprised at the deer and squirrels in the university. There are many animals and nature in the university. So I thought Ohio university is very beautiful university,” Nakagaito commented.

Koki Iwata and Rui Yamada enjoy Strouds Run Picnic.

Rui Yamada and Koki Iwata enjoy Strouds Run Picnic.

Learning about the differences between the two countries ranged from the things everyone should know, such as how to greet someone in a different culture, to the little things students noticed along the way.

“Most cars have only one license plate attached,” observed Kishita.

Mina Katayama and Aya Ikeda during the International Week Fashion Show.

Aya Ikeda and Mina Katayama during the International Week Fashion Show.

“I was interested in that there are many events,” noted Nakagaito. “It’s like Easter, fashion show, drag queen show, and the skate which a group held. It makes us a lot of fun. In Japan, there are some events but it’s less than the U.S.”

Just as some of the Chubu students may sometime return to Athens, OHIO students can also find their way to Japan’s third largest city, Nagoya, through the Chubu Exchange and Study Abroad program. The program offers courses in Japanese to students at all proficiency levels, and qualified students who successfully complete one semester of full-time Japanese study in the fall may be eligible for internship opportunities and tutorial programs in engineering, the natural sciences and the humanities during spring semester.

Read more about the long-standing relationship between Ohio University and Chubu University.

 

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