Contact: Yuiko Yamawaki < email@example.com >
Partners: Kōchi University and University of Rhode Island
Kōchi University (KU) has 58 university-level partnerships with institutions outside Japan, but until last year only one was with a university in the U.S. To increase collaboration and exchange with the U.S., KU developed a new partnership in June 2015, one that built on a strong connection between one of its professors and a faculty member at the University of Rhode Island (URI). These two faculty members had known each other for 40 years. The strength of their relationship created a solid foundation for the new KU-URI partnership to immediately spring into action. The linkage was added to KU’s Tosa Sakigake International Education Program, designed to bring Japanese and international students together to develop a global outlook. Already, 11 URI students have studied at KU, and one KU student is spending the year at URI.
Origins of the KU-URI Partnership
The University of Rhode Island-Kōchi University partnership was established in 2015. It was initiated by Masaki Taniguchi, Professor of English Phonetics and Speech Communication at KU’s Faculty of Education. Back in 1978-1979, while an undergraduate at Seinan Gakuin University in Fukuoka, Japan, Prof. Taniguchi visited URI as an exchange student. There he majored in Speech Communication and met the Professor of Speech Communication, Dr. Agnes G. Doody. He calls Dr. Doody the “best teacher I have ever met.” Prof. Taniguchi took three courses with her, Contemporary Oral Communication, Intercultural Communication, and Elements of Persuasion (public speaking). He has kept in contact with her for over 35 years. In recent years, as a KU professor, he has made several visits to Dr. Doody and other URI staff, finally persuading URI to establish a partnership with KU. “Dr. Doody is a very special teacher,” Prof Taniguchi says, “because she taught me how to speak out for myself, as well as the importance of valuing different cultures. Thanks to Dr. Doody and what she taught me in her classes, I have come to enjoy communicating with people from different language and cultural backgrounds. I’m so grateful to her for her very kind teaching and communication over the years. Now URI and KU have established this partnership and started exchanging students. None of this would have been realized if it were not for Dr. Doody. For me it’s like a dream come true.”
Tosa Sakigake International Education Program hosts Rhode Island Exchange
Written by Michael Sharpe, IEP, Kōchi University
June 2015 saw the arrival in Kōchi of eleven students from the University of Rhode Island (URI), at the start of a 6-week exchange visit hosted by Kōchi University’s Tosa Innovative Human Development Program (TSP). The visitors, among them Art, Education, Music and Computer Science majors, were the first to visit KU under a new agreement between the two colleges.
During their stay our Rhode Island guests enjoyed a busy program of lectures covering many aspects of Japanese politics, history, society and culture. A program of studies focusing specifically on Kōchi was also planned, in which students examined local resources and revitalization schemes and took part in field trips to well-known Kōchi landmarks such as Kōchi Castle, Ryoma Sakamoto Museum, Cape Ashizuri, Muroto GeoPark and also the John Mung Museum. Mung was of course was one of the first Japanese to travel beyond these shores to the United States. Shipwrecked, he was rescued by an American whaler and taken to the port of New Bedford, MA, and then to Fairhaven, where he learned to speak English and later returned to Japan to work as a translator. 150 years on, a series of lessons gave the US students chance to brush up on the Japanese language skills they had been acquiring prior to coming to Japan, and through conversations with local people learn a little of the local dialect too!
One of the best features of this novel program was that it presented opportunities for students to develop mutual understanding and strengthen friendships through collaborative learning. KU’s TSP students accompanied the guests on their field trips, and the knowledge that they gathered during these trips was utilized to prepare group presentations in which students outlined local revitalization schemes that they had brainstormed together.
On a social level, there were also plenty of opportunities for students to interact. Together they enjoyed Kōchi restaurants and nightlife, spent a day at the beach, and got together to play an impromptu jam session. One intrepid group even took advantage of a day off to go and climb Mt. Ishizuchi!
Overall, the trip proved to be a resounding success, with several of our guests expressing a desire to return to Kōchi in the future. Two of the group have remained at KU on an extended study program. Meanwhile Haruka Fujita, a 2nd year International Education Program major from Matsuyama in Ehime, arrived in Rhode Island in September 2015 to begin a 1-year program of studies. A group of URI students whom she had befriended during their visit to Kōchi were at the station to meet her. Haruka is the first KU TSP student to study at Rhode Island, and during her stay will be studying communication, English composition, and oral presentation while also keeping up with the Chinese language skills she has been learning at KU.
With this first summer program successfully concluded, TSP is already making plans for 2016, and looking to extend its partnership agreements with US colleges to enable both Japanese and US students to enjoy learning together through this innovative scheme.
Haruka Fujita Writes about Her Time at URI
I have been studying abroad in University of Rhode Island since last fall. The Rhode Island State is amazingly beautiful. Although Rhode Island locates in the North East so it is very cold and snows a lot in winter, it is very comfortable to spend time during summer. The nature is breathtaking. The University of Rhode Island is located in nice place. You can go to beach in a few minutes’ drive, and in 30 minutes, you can go to the capital of the state. Of course you need a car to go anywhere but you also can take the bus and I did not feel inconvenienced since I have friends who have a car.
I took ELS class, Chinese class, writing class, and communication class for the fall semester. Every teacher was very kind to me and helped me each time when I asked questions. Most classes were not only just sitting and studying from the textbooks, but also discussing and working on a project. I had to study hard to prepare for all the classes. I had to read and write a lot, but I liked it.
I have been living in the dorm where there are exchange students, so it did not take long to make friends. I share a room with girls from England and Brazil. Since I live in a dorm, I usually have meal at the dining hall. University of Rhode Island has two dining halls and this one is pretty new. Near the university there are so many places to eat.
I also hang out with the [URI]students who came to Kōchi University. They worried and cared about me. Their help was so helpful for me when I first got to the University of Rhode Island and started a new life. I went out for meal, shopping, bowling, and enjoyed so many things with my friends. Not only going out, we spent library time together before the exam week and studied. I truly enjoy spending time in University of Rhode Island.