Earlham Delegation Visits Asia to Celebrate 50th Anniversary of Japan Study Program

October 23, 2013

Earlham College is sending a delegation to Asia in late October to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its Japan Study Program and to strengthen the campus’ connections to China.

President David Dawson and Vice President for Institutional Advancement Jim McKey ’78 will visit Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai as part of the trip. Director and Professor of Japanese Studies Gary DeCoker and President Emeritus Dick Wood, who was involved in the early years of the Japan program, will join them in Tokyo.

“Since the 1960s, other colleges have looked at us as a model for our long-standing programs in Japan,” Dawson said. “We’re reaching out to China to expand Asian studies into areas where faculty and student interest have grown.”

Japan -study -2On Oct. 25, the delegation will attend the 50th anniversary celebration at Earlham’s partner institution, Waseda University, one of Japan’s premier private universities in Tokyo with an enrollment of about 40,000 undergraduate students. Additional events are scheduled across the city to recognize the many alumni, faculty and supporters of the program.

About 70 percent of Earlham students participate in off-campus programs. Since 1963, Earlham has, in partnership with member institutions of the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) and Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM), sent about 1,500 study abroad students to Waseda to study Japanese language and culture. In turn, about 1,500 Waseda students have attended Earlham and other GLCA/ACM schools.

Many alumni have pursued careers focused on Asia, including David Shear ’71, U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam, and Richard Emmert ’72, one of the world’s leading experts on Noh Theatre.

“A lot of people consider their participation in our study abroad program a very significant part of their education and of their life when they look back on it,” DeCoker says. “It’s really a milestone, a transformative event for them.

“What’s unique about this program is that it is comprehensive,” he says. “Students, faculty and administrators travel in both directions to experience and learn from each others educational system.” Earlham, for example, is currently hosting Waseda administrator Nobuku Shinno for fall semester 2013 and will welcome five faculty members for a one-month professional development program.

Board of Trustees member Gerry Cooper ’66, whose business is in China, will join Dawson and McKey for the China portion of the trip. Cooper also sponsors an internship for an Earlham student each summer.

In Hong Kong, they will visit with donors who are helping to fund the teaching of Chinese at Earlham. They will also visit the Li Po Chun United World College to recruit international students. In Shanghai, they will visit with an official from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation to make connections for student internship opportunities in Shanghai and Taipei, Taiwan.  They will also visit an international school for recruitment.

“I think the trip also reflects an understanding of the dynamics in Asia,” McKey says. “China has been a growing player economically. It’s a natural area to build on, on top of an already strong program.”

50th anniversary marked by new dual-degree program

Earlham and Waseda have established a new dual-degree program that will provide unprecedented opportunities for students at both institutions.

Although Waseda has a number of dual-degree programs in East Asia, the partnership with Earlham’s Japan Study Program will be the first such undergraduate dual-degree program they have with an institution in the United States.

Dawson and Waseda President Kaoru Kamata will take part in an official signing ceremony for the dual-degree program during the 50th anniversary celebration.

“For our students, a degree from Waseda opens up many career and graduate school opportunities in Japan,” DeCoker says. “For Waseda students, an Earlham education is wonderful preparation for graduate school in the United States.”

The Japan Study program expects to work with a small number of other GLCA/ACM colleges to set up similar programs whereby Waseda students can gain a U.S. undergraduate degree. The current plan is to have varying majors available at the participating schools.

Earlham’s impact elsewhere in Japan

The delegation will also stop in the Japanese city of Morioka and the village of Tanohata to express gratitude toward the various constituencies who support Earlham programs in the Tohoku region.  An October 28 reception will include representatives from the Morioka Board of Education, Iwate University, the Earlham Club, and many others with a longstanding relationship with Earlham.

Since 1973, Earlham has offered the Studies in Cross Cultural Education (SICE) study-abroad program in Morioka. That program allows students to engage in Japanese society by assisting with the teaching of English to middle school students and also by taking Japanese classes at Iwate University.

In Tanohata, the delegation will reconnect with people who were affected by the 2011 tsunami that devastated the village.

“Our students initially got involved in Tanohata about 50 years ago through a reforestation project organized by Waseda students after a huge forest fire. Students lived in a camp facility and did physical work related to the trees,” DeCoker says.  “But since the tsunami, their efforts have turned to relief work.  We hope that our October 28th visit to Tanohata will open up other ways that we can connect with the village.”

— EC —

Earlham College, a national liberal arts college located in Richmond, Indiana, is a "College That Changes Lives." We expect our students to be fully present: to think rigorously, value directness and genuineness, and actively seek insights from differing perspectives. The values we practice at Earlham are rooted in centuries of Quaker tradition, but they also constitute the ideal toolkit for contemporary success. Earlham is one of only 40 national liberal arts colleges ranked among U.S. News and World Reports' "Great Schools at a Great Price."

Brian Zimmerman is director of media relations at Earlham College. He can be reached at (765) 983-1256 and zimmebr@earlham.edu.

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