On-campus meetings with Japanese officials present possibilities

November 1, 2023
Elizabeth Syverson '23

On October 18, Saint Michael’s College welcomed two visitors from the Tottori Prefecture in Japan: Mr. Akio Katijani, a Representative of the Tottori Prefectural Government Tourism and Exchange Bureau, and Natsuko Sawada, Director of Research and Exchange Promotion Division for the Tottori University of Environmental Studies. The visitors met with Interim President Lewis Thayne and several department directors and professors to discuss future collaborations between the two institutions. The group included Peggy Imai, Director of the Study Abroad Program, Kristyn Achilich, Director of the Center for the Environment and Instructor of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Hideko Furukawa, former Professor who taught Japanese language and culture, and Jeffrey Ayres, Chair and Professor of Political Science and International Relations and Director of the Center for Global Engagement.

Katijani and Sawada’s visit began in the president’s conference room where they discussed the distinctive features of Tottori Prefecture and the ways in which their programs can be mutually beneficial to Saint Michael’s College.

The visitors also enjoyed an extensive tour of the Center for the Environment with sojourns to both the main office in Saint Edmund’s Hall and the Farm where they observed students participating in the fall harvest.

They ended their visit with lunch in Alliot Hall alongside members of the Center for Global Engagement to discuss further opportunities for exchange and programming between the two institutions.

Ayres said a collaboration between Saint Michael’s and Tottori could likely take shape in four different ways: A virtual faculty “exchange” program through an international learning platform, a semester-long exchange program between professors at the two institutions, a summer internship placement for Saint Michael’s students, and a faculty-led study trip to Tottori Prefecture and University that centers around environmental sustainability.

“I personally am interested in exploring the possibility of extending the study trip I co-lead to Wales, UK—which focuses on environmental sustainability—to Tottori Prefecture,” Ayres said. “I think there is a great opportunity to connect with Tottori University of Environmental Studies and make it a home base for a two-week, faculty-led study trip that brings students to Japan to study cultural, economic, political, educational, and business approaches adopted by Japanese in Tottori.”

Ayres added, “And it would be rewarding for Saint Michael’s to host a similar study trip to our campus and Champlain Valley region for Japanese educators and students.”

The following week, on October 26, the college welcomed Mr. Shin Honda, Consul of Cultural and General Affairs from the Consulate General of Japan in Boston, and his assistant Adrian Vele. Ayres said that he joined several faculty members and the visitors to discuss the potential for adding exchange relationships with Japanese institutions that would expand upon Saint Michael’s extensive history of offering English language learning  classes to international students.

“These two meetings over the past week with Japanese officials are all part of efforts by the Center for Global Engagement to rebuild international partnerships following the COVID-19 pandemic and revitalize global engagement opportunities for our students and faculty,” Ayres said.

Follow us on social.