Tokyo International University of America (TIUA) welcomed 98 new students to Salem today as part of the 28th 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 nearly 2,900 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 given students “from both institutions an opportunity to live in an authentic intercultural living and learning environment, helping them to prepare for global citizenship,” he says. “I strongly encourage everyone on campus to contribute to the program.”
Though 95 percent of the ASP students are from Japan, the group of 51 women and 47 men also includes students from Peru and China. During the next year, they will take English language and American studies courses at TIUA and Willamette, and they 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.
“It is not an exaggeration to say that the WU-TIU exchange has become one of the defining features of the university,” Gundersen says. “It has contributed greatly to broadening and deepening the ties between Oregon, Japan and the wider Pacific Rim.”
TIUA is seeking community participants for the Tomodachi “friendship” program. Learn more on the TIUA website or by contacting Barby Dressler at firstname.lastname@example.org.