This week Tokyo International University of America (TIUA) welcomed 121 new students to Salem, as part of the 25th annual class of the American Studies Program (ASP).
Willamette students and staff greeted the incoming class with cheers and welcome signs as their buses arrived from the airport.
Since 1989, the sister school relationship between Willamette and Tokyo International University (TIU) has allowed 2,526 TIU students to participate in the one-year ASP program.
Gunnar Gundersen, executive vice president of TIUA, says the partnership has transformed the living and learning environments of both schools.
“In today's world, having a sophisticated understanding of intercultural issues and second language ability are increasingly important in any type of profession,” Gundersen says. “This type of program fosters a much deeper mutual understanding amongst the people of Japan and the U.S.”
Though most of the ASP students are from Japan, the group of 59 women and 62 men also includes students from China, South Korea and Saudi Arabia.
Over the next year, they will take English language and American studies courses at TIUA and Willamette. Twelve International Peer Coaches will assist the students as they transition to independent, self-sufficient members of the campus community.