This fall semester, Cazenovia College launched an exchange program for students to study abroad at Nagoya Gakuin University (NGU) in Japan, while NGU students study at Cazenovia College. The program gives students the opportunity to experience a new culture and language.
Two years ago, Dr. Jesse Harasta, assistant professor and program director for international studies, initiated conversations with administrators at NGU. The university was looking to broaden study-abroad program for its students. With a large English program, NGU aims to provide international study opportunities for students in countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
With the hope of broadening the international-study opportunities at Cazenovia College, a three-week trip to Japan took place in the summer of 2017. Harasta and a group of Cazenovia students took part in the trip, launching the opportunity to start an exchange program. NGU and Cazenovia College believe that their students fit similar profiles and would be a good fit to study at each other's institution.
During the fall 2018 semester, one student from Cazenovia College—Breanna Jones, English junior—has been studying at NGU. Four students from NGU—English juniors Yumi Miyazaki, Kiyoka Arakawa, Nhi Pham, and Miho Inoue—started their year-long experience at Cazenovia College.
"The main idea of the exchange program is that it is a one-for-one program," says Harasta. "Seeing as NGU has a better-established program, they were able to send four students this semester. We have students who have showed interest in the program and are working on the required courses to be a part of this new opportunity in future semesters."
Harasta adds, "I am thrilled that we have four students from NGU with us this year, and I believe they will bring a lot of energy to the campus. They are enthusiastic about being here and studying at Cazenovia College."
The Cazenovia College Exchange Experience
This international study experience takes place during the fall semester and is designed primarily for students who are in their junior year, although students who are seniors may also participate. The program is selective, and interested students must complete the application process.
The first student to participate in the program is Jones, who has the following to say about the program. "What interested me the most about this study-abroad experience is how many other countries are involved. Aside from other American students, I have met people from China, Thailand, Korea, Canada, Indonesia, and Taiwan. It amazes me how many different countries are involved in such a fantastic exchange program and what I have learned from the people I met."
Cazenovia College students are paired up with a conversation partner and move into the convenient International Seminar House, where they are immersed in Japanese but given all the tools to enjoy themselves and encounter everything possible during their time in Japan.
Cazenovia College students take two mandatory classes—Japanese Language and Japanese Speech—along with elective choices of their choosing. Jones decided to enroll in Japanese Economy, Society, and Culture as well as Intercultural Communications and Badminton. Due to an exchange agreement with Cazenovia College, all NGU credits transfer automatically and the curriculum is designed to ensure that students do not fall behind in most academic programs.
"What I have learned so far goes far beyond just the language itself. Aside from improving my Japanese, I have learned things not only about the society, but the culture and economy as well," says Jones.
Jones adds, "I have learned the positives and negatives, and have experienced firsthand how everything goes together so easily. I have learned how Japan as a country functions as it does, what topics it has strong convictions about, and what it is that makes the country and people so unique from the rest of the world."
Jones has made herself a part of the NGU campus by attending numerous events such as the Autumn Festival and Halloween Festival. She has also traveled to various places including karaoke in Kanayama, the Pokemon Center in Yabacho, and shrines in Kyoto. Other adventures include, a Neko Café (a cat café), stopping at the world heritage site in Shirakawago, and little towns in Takayama.
Nagoya is a medium-sized city located in central Japan, an hour and a half by train from Tokyo and a half hour from Kobe, Osaka, Nara, and Kyoto. The exchange program allows students to get out of the classroom and participate in both traditional and modern Japan. Previous NGU field trips have included an anime studio, professional baseball games, a Toyota factory, tea ceremonies in traditional gardens, a Cosplay conference, ancient temples, and bookstores filled with manga.
When asked what advice she would give other Cazenovia College students, Jones says, "This experience has affected me in ways that I am still comprehending. This exchange program across the world is something that not many people have a chance to do. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity!"
The Nagoya Student Experience at Cazenovia
The four Japanese exchange students attended Quad Day and signed up to be involved in the Young Life and English clubs. They also have participated in many student-life events put on by the Campus Activities Board (CAB), including Orientation events and other weekly activities on campus.
Miyazaki comments, "We enjoy the opportunities at Cazenovia College because we don't have a student union or student life group."
Since the students came a few weeks before other students at Cazenovia College, staff and faculty helped them to feel at home by showing them around Cazenovia and the surrounding areas. The four students were able to take a trip to Destiny USA to see a movie and go shopping, visited Cazenovia Lake daily, traveled to Chittenango Falls, and spent a day at the Equestrian Center. One of their favorite memories was going to tour the facility, groom horses, and go horseback riding. For all four students this was a new experience.
Inoue shares that one of her favorite memories was spending time at Cazenovia Lake. She cannot wait for spring when they can go back with all of their new friends.
If you are a Cazenovia College student interested in the Japan Exchange program, contact Dr. Jesse Harasta at email@example.com or 315-655-7196. To learn more about the Japanese Exchange Program, visit: http://www.cazenovia.edu/nagoya-japan