Queen's University

Exchange gives students local perspective of Japan

Cross-Cultural College students on a day trip to Kyoto. Left to right: Jillian Fugedi (Queen's), Asuka Ohta (KGU), Sara O'Sullivan (Queen's), Haruka Okuto (KGU), Maiko Kajihara (KGU), and Vivian Chong (U of T).

Queen’s students experienced Japan through the eyes of the Japanese during the first Cross-Cultural College this summer. The exchange is a unique international program that connects Canadian students with Japanese students for several weeks in August.

“You can go somewhere and not really learn anything about the place and people if you’re not interacting with locals,” says Queen’s student and program participant Sara O’Sullivan (BAH’13). “This program was very intercultural. We lived together and studied together, working on research projects in groups. It opened my eyes to a different culture and different ways of doing things.”

The Cross-Cultural College is a partnership between Kwansei Gakuin University (KGU) and three Canadian universities – Queen’s, the University of Toronto and Mount Allison University. Students can choose between three different course options of varying lengths, earning credits towards their degrees. Eleven Queen’s students, all in their second or third year of an honours bachelor degree in Arts and Science, participated in this year’s program.

Most of the students took part in a joint seminar program – studying and living with their Japanese counterparts for two weeks in Japan at KGU and two weeks in Toronto at the University of Toronto. Others had the option of a business internship, spending several weeks at a Japanese employer such as Toyota, Panasonic or Caterpillar Japan. Students also took several field trips, visiting the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, the Golden Pavilion Temple in Kyoto, and popular culture destinations such as film studios and department stores.

“It was a great success,” says Takamichi Mito, Chief Academic Director, Cross-Cultural College, KGU. “The students received amazing exposure to Japanese society, culture and people. Certain activities, such as the visit to the Hiroshima museum, were very impactful and overwhelming for students. But then they would experience the other side – they’d get on the bus back to KGU, equipped with a karaoke machine, and sing Japanese pop songs.”

The Cross-Cultural College began as a pilot program in March. The program will continue next summer and includes subsidies for accepted students. More information

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Last updated at 2:06 pm EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
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