BY SEAN COLVIN – STAFF WRITER
Twelve students from Tokyo’s Senshu University will be arriving on campus on Jan.
30 for a six-week stay as part of Susquehanna’s Senshu exchange program.
The program gives Japanese students a glimpse into American culture while they take English language courses, according to program director Mimi Rice, who will teach
12 hours of English language classes per week.
“They come for American culture,” Rice said, which she noted is reflected in the types of classes that are popular amongst them. These include Rock Music in Society, Inter- cultural Communications and World Religions.
Senior English major Naoki Tamaki, from Senshu, went through a similar three-week program at Susquehanna in August 2014.
“Everyone is so outgoing here,” Tamaki said. “Japanese people are very conservative and shy. One day I went to Walmart, and I [stood in line] for the cashier, and the per- son in front of me, a stranger to me, asked, ‘Hey, where are you from?’”
Tamaki since decided to return to Susquehanna for an additional year and currently lives on campus.
“I want to speak English very well,” he said. “I want to learn something from the American view.” Susquehanna offers a much different education experience
for Senshu students, says Tamaki, who is used to studying one subject per day.
“I had classes with 100 people,” Tamaki said, emphasizing the difference in size
of Susquehanna and Senshu, which has more than 20,000 undergraduate students. Tamaki also said that his classes at Senshu were not discussion-based like at Susquehanna and that he has to challenge himself to speak up in class.
The twelve incoming Senshu students will stay with local host families in Selinsgrove
and Lewisburg, who Rice described as generous members of the community.
According to Rice, Susquehanna’s relationship with Senshu began in 1985 when
Susquehanna president Joel Cunningham signed a contract with Senshu, making Susquehanna the only university in the United States at the time to hold a contract with the school.
Since then, Susquehanna has hosted roughly 750 Senshu students, Rice said. It
wasn’t until recently, however, that the coin was flipped, and Susquehanna students began to regularly visit Senshu for academic stay.
“It’s been a nice connection for our students to be on the receiving end of,” Rice said.
In addition to the exchange program, Susquehanna has added a program called SU
Pen Pals, which helps both incoming and outgoing students establish connections before their trips abroad. “It’s to help them have at least one friend before they come on campus,” senior creative writing major Julia Raffel said. Raffel has been
part of the pen pal program for three consecutive years.
She visited Senshu in the summer of 2014 for two weeks, where she met Tamaki. Raffel said that although the Senshu students arrive in groups, “a lot of the students in the past haven’t actually known each other,” which she said is due to Senshu’s size.
Raffel reiterated a point that Tanaki also made, and she said: “A lot of people in Japan
want a better English education because most of the teachers [in Japan] are not native English speakers. There are some [Senshu] students who I talk to who are English majors who really want to help teach English in Japan.”
Rice encourages any Susquehanna student who shares classes with the incoming Senshu students or sees them around campus to reach out by sharing a few words or
asking questions, which the students are usually happy to answer, according to Rice.