Queen's University

Pilot program with Japan fosters ‘cross-cultural friendships’

 
2012-03-02
Participants in the pilot program worked together in study groups. From left, Tomoka Kamei, from Kwansei Gakuin University (KGU) in Japan; Queen's student Eve Thorson; Miki Sawamura of KGU; and Victoria Ceneda, a student from the University of Toronto.

Queen’s students joined together with undergraduates from Japan’s Kwansei Gakuin University (KGU) recently in a pilot program designed to give participants a deeper understanding of each other’s cultures by living, studying and working together.

“We hope it will be a transformative experience of what a cross-cultural friendship can be,” says Bill James, Professor Emeritus in Queen’s School of Religion. “Academically, we hope it shows them how beneficial it is to learn about the other with the other.” Dr. James, along with KGU’s Professor Martin Collick, are the coordinators of the program.

The week-long seminar – funded by the Japanese government and aimed at strengthening ties between Canada and Japan, and between KGU and Canadian universities – is a precursor to several longer programs being offered this summer.

Eve Thorson, a second-year English and linguistics student at Queen’s, says the program was an excellent opportunity to expand her knowledge of Japan and the Japanese language. She hopes to be part of the summer seminars, which are credit programs held in both Canada and Japan.

Over reading week, eight students from KGU, whose campus is in Nishinomiya near Osaka, visited Kingston, working with eight Canadian students, four from Queen’s and four from Mount Allison University and the University of Toronto.

During the day, participants attended lectures and worked in groups on various topics, including education, family and gender, economy, and population, immigration and aging. They also visited the Agnes Etherington Art Centre’s “Tattoo Portraits” exhibition, which led to a dynamic discussion on the cultural differences regarding tattoos. In the evening, students were free to explore the city and connect in less formal settings, while dining out, shopping and going to the movies.

For more information on the Cross-Cultural College programs, contact the International Programs Office.

 

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