“Be confident, be independent and be responsible,” said Hiroshi Takahashi, president of Tokyo International University (TIU) and Tokyo International University of America (TIUA), as he congratulated the 96 graduates of this year’s American Studies Program (ASP).
During a special ceremony in Hudson Hall on Friday, ASP students reflected upon and celebrated their time at Willamette University. The closing ceremony celebrated students’ year of intense study of English and other ASP courses taught by TIUA and Willamette University faculty members.
President Takahashi, himself an alumnus of the program, reminded the students of their need to translate the knowledge and wisdom they learned during their experience in the United States into solutions to support the public good and society as a whole.
A number of speakers joined Takahashi and Gunnar Gunderson, executive vice president of TIUA, at the ceremony, including Willamette President Steve Thorsett and Senior Vice President Carol Long and Kojiro Uchiyama, the Counsel General of Japan based in Portland.
Liz Gill ‘17, president of the Associated Students of Willamette University (ASWU), noted ASP students’ tremendous impact on the culture at Willamette and praised their courage in traveling to an unfamiliar place.
“I’m incredibly impressed by your courage, determination and toughness to study abroad in a completely different country and a different culture for an entire year,” said Gill.
Miyano Sato, ASP representative to ASWU, delivered an emotional address as she reflected on her own experience at Willamette.
“These 11 months have passed so quickly and we have grown — both mentally and academically,” said Sato. “Because of this experience you are now sitting among friends whom you will have forever.”
In addition to recognizing each student, staff and faculty of TIUA presented special awards to students who made significant contributions to the community and to their fellow students. Two students, Misaki Mochizuki and Risa Sugiura, were honored for providing over 250 hours of volunteer time to cocurricular programming during their time at Willamette. Four students received awards for completing 175–249 hours of service, while 17 students were recognized for 100–174 service hours.
After the certificate presentation, attendees gathered for a reception in the University Center.
For the 2017 American Studies Program, the university is expecting 122 students, who will arrive in February. To help these students get the most out of their time at Willamette, TIUA seeks volunteers for the Tomodachi Program, which begins in late March. Tomodachi is the Japanese word for friendship, and program participants host an ASP student once a month for an activity such as dinner, celebrating a holiday, shopping or going on a picnic.
For more information or to volunteer, contact Barby Dressler at 503-373-3300 or click here.