Bolstering cross-cultural exchange, Hobart and William Smith recently hosted Minako Yamada and Yui Takeda, both of Technos International College, Tokyo, Japan, for a 10-day visit that encompassed a full scope of experiences unique to the Finger Lakes region as well as life on a liberal arts campus.
“We are especially grateful to the Tanaka family and value the longstanding relationship between Hobart and William Smith Colleges and Technos University,” says President Mark D. Gearan. “For more than two decades, this partnership has allowed Hobart and William Smith students and faculty members to travel each summer to Tokyo for Technos International Week. The addition of two scholars from Japan to our campus further bolsters our efforts to create a global community here on campus.”
The cultural exchange program 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 other programming at HWS. This is the second time that students from Technos have been hosted by the Colleges, giving Technos students a similar cross-cultural experience provided to HWS students and faculty who attend Technos International Week.
“Technos has given our students and faculty such wonderful experiences over the years,” says Program Coordinator for the Center for Global Education Doug Reilly. “The goal of this exchange was for us to in return give these students a good sense of what it’s like to be a student at a liberal arts college and also of the region and the U.S. more generally. We also wanted to involve HWS students in the trip who are interested in learning more about Japan and the Technos program.”
Yamada and Takeda participated in a full schedule of activities hosted by more than a dozen students, staff and faculty members, many of which were Technos recipients themselves. Ensuring the students garnered a sense of academic life at an American liberal arts institution, Yamada and Takeda took a rigorous course schedule during the day. They attended an acting course with Assistant Professor of Theatre Christopher Hatch; “Color and Composition” with Professor of Art and Architecture Nick Ruth; an Asian art course taught by Associate Professor of Art and Architecture Lara Blanchard; and Japanese language drill sessions each morning taught by Kyoko Klaus, Tanaka lecturer in Asian languages and cultures.
From swimming in Seneca Lake to a glassblowing workshop at the Corning Museum of Glass and a trip to Niagara Falls, the students were led on different excursions each afternoon that enhanced their understanding of American culture and highlighted the “strengths of the Finger Lakes region,” notes Reilly. Giving students a firsthand look at American fashion, Associate Professor of Psychology Julie Kingery, a previous Technos recipient, took the students shopping at Waterloo Premium Outlets. Finger Lakes Institute Community Outreach Coordinator Sarah Meyer led Yamada and Takeda on a hiking trip at Watkins Glen State Park and also gave the students their first apple pie baking experience at the HWS Fribolin Farm.
“My favorite part was trying the many different foods,” says Yamada, who also enjoyed visiting historical places that helped her “learn more about the area.” Both Takeda and Yamada say that visiting Niagara Falls was overwhelming, and also a highlight of the trip.
“To be honest, this trip was more than I expected,” Yamada adds. “Our stay had substantial amenities and we had a great time with our host family. I learned a lot about culture in America and I also made many new friends.”
Giving the students a deeper understanding of American life, Professor of Economics Tom Drennen, a past Technos recipient, hosted Yamada and Takeda at his house for a weekend to share in the “culture and hospitality” he received while on the Technos exchange program this past June.
Like Drennen, nearly a dozen students who helped host Takeda and Yamada were Technos recipients themselves, hoping to use the opportunity to give the students an experience equivalent to their own as guests of Technos University.
“I decided to help host the Technos students because the students and staff members in Japan were such wonderful hosts to me; I wanted to return the favor and allow the students to have as much fun at HWS as I did at Technos College. For me, our experiences together are more than just a cross-cultural exchange, it strengthens the bond between HWS and Technos,” says Danielle Ramos ’18, who attended Technos International Week in June 2015. “It’s fulfilling and meaningful to give and receive so that bonds among networks of people are able to bloom. I am so thankful for having the opportunity to meet Yui and Minako and immerse them into my life here at HWS.”
The Colleges’ relationship with the Tanaka family dates back to the late 1980s when Dr. Kenji Tanaka visited the campus with his daughters, Kimiko and Makiko, who received an honorary degree from the Colleges in 2011. A friendship was forged on that visit between the Tanaka family and the Colleges that has not only continued but has flourished over the years since. In addition to Technos International Week, one Hobart and one William Smith student are awarded each year with the Technos International Prize on behalf of the Tanaka Ikeuikai Educational Trust.
In the photo above, Associate Professor of Psychology Julie Kingery enjoys dinner with Minako Yamada and Yui Takeda.