VCU hosts exchange students from Japan
By: Renee Russell
VCU Global Education Office
RICHMOND, Va. (Sept. 21, 2018)―Practicing a foreign language on a daily basis is a hallmark of many study abroad programs, leading to improved proficiency in both speaking and listening. And when international students come to the U.S., that foreign language becomes English.
Such is the case for Ryoya Yamamoto, a second-year student from Shimane University in Matsue, Japan.
“I want to be an English teacher, but in Japan, I have no opportunities to practice speaking and listening to English,” said Yamamoto. “Being able to speak it regularly has made my skills much stronger.”
Yamamoto is one of ten students from Shimane University who are visiting Virginia Commonwealth University this fall as part of an annual exchange program between the two schools.
Offered through VCU Globe, the exchange takes VCU students to Japan during the summer; the following fall, students from
Shimane University visit VCU for three weeks. Since the program launched in 2015, 19 VCU students have travelled to Japan and 42 have come to VCU.
Academic and social interaction with students in VCU Globe is a central element of the program.
“I want to study the differences between the two cultures - America and Japan,” said Riko Kamoda, a sophomore at Shimane University majoring in chemistry. “I’m glad we get to meet American students and learn about their ideas and opinions.”
While in Richmond, the students participate in things like classes that cover global issues, roundtable discussions with VCU students about American youth engagement and social life, to homestay weekends and trips around Virginia and Washington D.C. to learn more about America’s past and present.
They also visit two Japanese-owned companies, the camera giant Canon and the global container shipping company Ocean Network Express, to learn from executives about leadership and intercultural communication skills needed to succeed in a global economy.
In the spirit of true exchange, the students also contribute to the VCU community by delivering presentations about Japanese culture, cuisine and how the education systems differ between the two countries.
The exchange reinforces many elements of the VCU Globe curriculum, according to Rachel Gable, Ph.D., assistant director of academic programming, who is coordinating this year’s program.
“This exchange program enhances all that we read and discuss about the value and challenges of living as globally-minded citizens in the 21st century,” she said. “It is a wonderful incubator to practice what we preach in terms of internationalizing our learning, skills development, and practice.”
Through the exchange, students apply skill such as learning from and incorporating other worldviews and cultural values into a complex understanding of human rights, practicing intercultural communication, and developing a deep appreciation for human difference.
This latest group of Shimane University students is visiting campus from September 4-24 and the next VCU cohort will head to Japan in summer 2019.
See photos from the exchange