Centre College delivers on its commitment to global citizenship, not only by sending students around the world through its #1 ranked study abroad program but also by bringing the world to Centre.
Centre welcomed nearly 30 delegates from Japan’s Yamaguchi Prefectural University (YPU) to campus last week to participate in the Japanese Winter Plum Festival, hosted by the Norton Center for the Arts and the College.
Centre and YPU are connected through a highly successful study abroad exchange partnership, now in its fifteenth year.
“When we began the Yamaguchi exchange 15 years ago, no one imagined that it would become so important for both institutions,” says Milton Reigelman, director of the College’s Center for Global Citizenship. “We now have regular student and faculty exchanges as well as a Japanese student teaching assistant for our Japanese courses on campus.”
Milton notes that thanks to strong interest from both students and faculty at Centre to study or teach at YPU, the program continues to thrive.
“Our students’ interest in spending fall and CentreTerm at YPU grows each year and probably at least half of the Centre students who studied at the university have returned to Japan to teach or work,” he says.
In addition, Assistant Professor of Politics and International Studies Dina Badie taught an international relations course at YPU this past CentreTerm, while Assistant Professor of Psychology Aaron Godlaski spent time at the university last summer to prepare for his CentreTerm 2016 course, in which he will take students to Yamaguchi and Kyoto to study meditation.
The College was honored to extend its hospitality to its partners in global learning as they shared a bit of their rich cultural heritage. The festival, which took place Thursday, Feb. 19, was a celebration of the “Land of the Rising Sun” and showcased the talents of actors, dancers and other performers from YPU. Highlights of the festival included rotating performances of short plays in the Sagi-ryu Kyogen theater style, Yosakoi Dance demonstrations, a traditional tea ceremony and tasting, a kimono display and an origami workshop.
Though the talk with Japanese Consul General Motohiko Kato was cancelled due to inclement weather, several other programs leading up to the festival were offered, including a hands-on Kyogen theater workshop and a panel discussion entitled “How the Japanese Care for Self, Community and Others.”
Visiting Assistant Professor of Japanese Miyabi “Abbie” Yamamoto also helped to coordinate the visit, which she is certain was a rewarding experience for every guest.
“In terms of the delegation of YPU students, faculty and community members, I believe the visit served as an excellent opportunity to see an American liberal arts institution,” she says. “For those who had been to Centre before, it served as a way to strengthen and build on the already-existing relationship between YPU and Centre.”
Ultimately, the festival exemplified the College’s appreciation for cross-cultural exchange.
“This visit reminds all of us how closely Centre has become intertwined with other institutions around the globe,” says Reigelman.
by Caitlan Cole
Featured image: Actors from Japan’s Yamaguchi Prefectural University performed short plays in the comic Sagi-ryi Kyogen style on the Weisiger Stage at the Japanese Winter Plum Festival.