The Ohio Program of Intensive English, or OPIE, organized a welcome ceremony for this spring’s Chubu University exchange participants on March 17. The event was attended by faculty members, student participants, culture enthusiasts and Ohio University students.
The OPIE program, offered by the College of Arts and Sciences, exists to help international students learn English ahead of starting a degree program or enhance their English proficiency. Forty-six students and one faculty member traveled to OU from Aichi, Japan, for the program.
President Hugh Sherman commenced the ceremony with a speech. He said that he cherishes the 49-year relationship that OU and Chubu University share. Claude Sowle, sixteenth president of OU, and Kohei Miura, a former president of Chubu University, signed an agreement in 1973 to introduce a series of programs to foster academic success.
“I'm really excited to have the students come to Ohio University after these two years of pause, so this is such a great time to be (here),” Ji-Yeung Jang, interim executive director for Global Affairs said. “We're really thrilled to welcome the students.”
The two universities will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of their agreement in 2023. Due to the global pandemic, the program was on a halt as countries were under lockdown.
“Over the years, over 2,000 Chubu students came to Ohio University, and so this group of students remind us of this very vital relationship and the flow of students back and forth is such a beautiful thing that we have ongoing,” Jang said. “I'm really looking forward to making sure that our Chubu students are successful here.”
The event participants also played a game designed to educate people on Japanese and American culture. It presented an opportunity for all the attendees to break the ice and carry conversations with each other.
Mayu Kishita, an international studies major at Chubu University, gave a speech at the event.
“Chubu students might get confused sometimes, because of the cultural difference or language barrier, but enjoy our stay here,” Kishita said in her speech.
She also expressed her wish to spend more time with OU students.
The program aims to improve Chubu students’ language skills and allows them to participate in other pursuits such as intercultural classes, physical education, weekend trips and activities.
“We try to have them interact with a wide variety of Americans,” Gerry Krzic, director of OPIE, said. “And next Saturday, we're going to the Southeast Ohio Food Bank in Logan to do some service.”
He said there are conversation hours that allow the students to have conversations with OU students.
“I really love my conversation partner and her friends, and we've had a lot of fun together,” Honorée Gaugy, a conversation partner and a sophomore studying video production, said. “We've gone to eat, and I've shown her around Athens. It's just been wonderful.”
The event concluded with Japanese snacks and a lot of pictures. Through the event, the Chubu students were able to become more connected with OU and its students.