As students return from break, two students in particular will have an exceptional distance to travel to make it to campus; Japanese students Shinya Kamitsumagri and Ryo Sugahara will arrive in the United States for the first time on March 22, when they will be welcomed by the Colleges as part of a cultural exchange with Technos International College in Tokyo.
This marks the first time that students from Technos will join the Colleges in Geneva. Since 1992, the Tanaka Ikueikai Educational Trust has enabled Hobart and William Smith students, accompanied by a faculty member, to travel annually to Japan on a cultural exchange during Technos International Week.
“Technos always treats our HWS students and faculty exceptionally well, and we are thrilled to be able to reciprocate that,” says Associate Professor of Chemistry and Associate Provost Christine de Denus. “We hope that this will become an annual occurrence; this is a way to give back and really say ‘thank you’ for all that you do for our students.”
“Anytime you’re crossing cultural lines, there is a lot to gain,” says Doug Reilly, program coordinator for the Center for Global Education. “What is unique about this experience is that they get to see what life is like on a residential, liberal arts campus – which is very different from the urban Technos.”
On the weekend of their arrival, Kamitsumagri and Sugahara will have the chance to experience American home life with a host family – de Denus hopes that this will give the students a real glimpse into the average daily life of many of the students, and create a deep connection with the U.S.
HWS students will also lend a hand in welcoming the guests to campus, helping them settle into the week-long stay at the Carr McGuire House. Throughout the week, students who have studied abroad in Japan will join Kamitsumagri and Sugahara at a variety of events and excursions on campus – among the students is a former Technos Week participant, Kim Giegerich ’15. From a percussion ensemble performance to Anime Club and an outing to the Headless Sullivan Theatre, the schedule filled to the brim with diverse cultural experiences.
Kamitsumagri and Sugahara, who are both studying to become elementary school teachers, will have ample opportunities to explore the American education system. Not only will they visit to Professor of Education Charlie Temple’s “Storytelling” class, they will also spend time with America Reads volunteers at West Street Elementary School and catch the Geneva Middle and High School’s spring production of the musical “Hairspray.”
The students will also participate in a variety of other classes on campus, exploring the full breadth of a liberal arts education, with classes on literacy, Assistant Professor of Music Mark Olivieri’s “History of Rock and Roll” course, and perhaps even a Japanese language class.
In addition to their time on campus, Kamitsumagri and Sugahara will see some of New York’s more unique sites – on the far ends of the state. A trip to Niagara Falls will be bookended by a weekend spent exploring New York City. However, before their departure for New York City, a banquet will be held in their honor, welcoming students, faculty and staff who are tied to Technos – either as past participants or as behind-the-scenes organizers of the annual trip.
“We’re not just looking to give them a full experience on campus, but in the Geneva community as well,” says Reilly. “We hope their time here will be incredibly enriching for them – and enriching for our own campus.”
Technos International Week began in 1992, thanks to the generosity of the Tanaka family and the Tanaka Memorial Foundation, whose gifts established the Tanaka Asian Studies Endowment and annually supports the Asian Studies Program, the Tanaka Lectureship in Japanese, and more.