Tokyo International University of America (TIUA) welcomed 132 new students to Salem today as part of the 27th annual class of the American Studies Program (ASP).
Blitz the Bearcat, along with many 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 more than 2,780 students to participate in the one-year ASP program.
Gunnar Gundersen, executive vice president of TIUA, says the partnership provides students from both Willamette and TIU with an opportunity to develop as global citizens.
“The exchange has created an intercultural living and learning environment,” he says. “As a result, students encounter ways of thinking and ways of viewing the world that would not be possible in a less culturally diverse community.”
Though most of the ASP students are from Japan, the group of 71 women and 61 men also includes students from China. The class will consist of 125 sophomores and seven juniors.
During the next year, they will take English language and American studies courses at TIUA and Willamette and will have the opportunity to participate with various clubs and organizations on and off campus. International peer coaches will assist the students as they transition to independent, self-sufficient members of the campus community.
“This type of immersive cultural experience can lead to life-long impacts, opening doors that may not otherwise have even been noticed,” Gundersen says. “There is no doubt that the educational experiences of students at both TIU and Willamette are richer and more rewarding because the universities share a strong global studies commitment.”
TIUA is seeking community participants for the Tomodachi “friendship” program. Learn more on the TIUA website or by contacting Barby Dressler at email@example.com.
• Article by Natalie Pate ’15, politics and French/Francophone studies major