Courtesy of Professor Masako Hamada. Six students from Yamanashi Prefectural University in Japan visited Villanova with their teacher, Professor Tetsuko Toda, from March 15 to 23.
The students studied U.S. history, society, and culture in Japan prior to visiting and experiencing the United States as a part of Professor Toda’s course, “Seminar in International Understanding.”
Villanova’s Institute for Global Interdisciplinary Studies sponsored Professor Toda and her students’ visit to Villanova to enhance not only the Japanese students’ understanding of American college campus life – our style of academic learning and our students’ way of thinking, behavior, and attitude toward national and international issues — but also to help Villanova students’ understanding of the Japanese students’ way of thinking, behavior, and attitudes toward the same issues. Being of the same generation and with similar interests in international issues, the Japanese and Villanova students discovered that they have lots in common with each other.
The Japanese students had an active and busy schedule during their stay at the Villanova Conference Center. They were greeted by many Villanova students at a “Welcome Reception” that included a welcoming speech by Maghan Keita, Ph.D., a professor of history and director of the Institute for Global Interdisciplinary Studies. They also visited with the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A., Ph.D., president of Villanova, and they visited the home of a Villanova student’s family.
As part of the academic portion of their visit, the students participated in several classes, including classes on East Asian Comparative Literature, Gender/Sex/Work in Modern Japan, International Relations: Contemporary East Asian Politics, and Japanese language classes. They also attended the lecture, “The Mass Incarceration of Japanese Americans, 1942-1946: Impact and Implication.
They also attended Mass on Sunday at St. Thomas of Villanova Church.
A major cultural event, “Japan Day,” coincided with the students' visit here, and the Japanese students prepared Japanese meals, made Origami, and demonstrated Japanese calligraphy, kimono-wearing, martial arts (Judo), and singing Japan songs. It was a wonderful cultural exchange event; more than 60 students participated.
The students also visited historical sites in Philadelphia, busy businesses and skyscrapers in New York, and the Smithsonian Museum, White House, and Capitol building in Washington, D.C.
One of the Japanese students (ST) commented: “It was my first visit to America. I studied about America through textbooks and films in class in Japan, but now I have had a firsthand experience learning about and experiencing America by visiting and living in it as well as interacting with American students and people. It was an eye-opening experience that helped me understand what a large country America is and what a dynamic multicultural society America is. Villanova students and professors and staff were very kind, friendly and generous. The Villanova campus has a great environmental to study and to live in. Students have a strong desire to study and to learn more.
I know that my English language and communication skills have improved through my interaction with American students and people. Through this experience, not only has my knowledge about America and American people improved but so has my understanding of Japan and myself. This course by Prof. Toda gave us great insights not only through textbooks but also through experiencing America, in general, and Villanova University, in particular. Thank you very much.”
And one of our students (BL) had this to say about having Japanese students as our guests:
“I was lucky enough to be able to meet the Japanese students and show them around our campus as well as take them around the area for some new experiences. At first they were rather shy and it seemed like they were intimidated by the language barrier. However, I took the opportunity to try to improve my Japanese by actively talking to them, and, soon enough, we became good friends.
They were amazed at the size of the King of Prussia Mall. Overjoyed, the girls ran into DSW with gigantic smiles on their faces as the boys wandered the mall. The huge portions that we were served for lunch at The Cheesecake Factory left the students at a loss for words. Even the size of the water glasses was so surprising to them that they immediately began to take pictures of themselves with the tall glasses.
On the day that they were departing, I completely forgot that they were only here for a week and not the entire semester. I would have loved for them to stay longer since there was so much left to do. I’m sure they felt the same as we reluctantly said our goodbyes and I saw them off at the SEPTA station.
Having these students at Villanova was definitely a great experience, and I hope to meet them again when I travel to Japan or when they return to America.”
Another Villanova student commented: “ I talked to the Japanese students in a combination of Japanese and English, and we found that we had a lot in common. I enjoyed spending time with them, and I wish we could have had more time to get to know each other better.”