Japanese exchange learners experienced unique 9-month working experience in Lawrence during pandemic | News, Sports activities, Careers


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Japanese exchange pupils from Kansai College in Osaka, Japan, are pictured in downtown Lawrence in August of 2020.


College students who study abroad are generally faced with altering to a new society, mastering a language and coping with becoming much from house. Now consider all that — in addition a international pandemic.

Which is what Hanae Matsuda, Rena Nakamura and 10 of their classmates from Kansai University in Osaka, Japan, seasoned for the past 9 months throughout their trade application by means of the University of Kansas. When the Japanese pupils arrived in the United States in early March, COVID-19 was previously spreading in Japan, so the college students quarantined for 14 days. But when their 14-day period of time was up, the United States was just commencing to shut down.

The students’ lessons moved online and they expended a large amount more time by yourself than expected. The internships they experienced prepared to do were being canceled and replaced by volunteering alternatives at regional nonprofits. The 12 university students also seasoned firsthand the racial and political stress that, alongside with the pandemic, created 2020 a 12 months as opposed to any other.

Aaron Huerter, assistant director of KU’s Global Limited Plans, stated that when the students’ knowledge was not like they assumed it would be, they manufactured the most of it.

“In some ways, I consider they almost certainly know extra about Lawrence and the people today of Lawrence than any of our other teams have at any time known mainly because they just jumped in with the two toes on almost everything that we did,” he mentioned. The nine-month research overseas method has existed for all-around 11 decades.

Matsuda and Nakamura, who did a Zoom job interview with the Journal-Planet on Dec. 15, both equally mentioned they experienced very good encounters, in spite of the conditions.

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Japanese trade learners from Kansai University in Osaka, Japan, are pictured in Kansas City in August of 2020.

Nakamura said the spring and summertime seasons were demanding and lonely for her because classes have been on line. But after she was able to start out attending some classes in particular person all through the fall semester, Nakamura said she was active finding out and building pals.

“So I didn’t have a lot time to call my good friends and loved ones,” she reported. “And now I don’t miss out on them so considerably.” The pupils returned to Japan before this thirty day period.

Matsuda reported she was grateful to be in the United States this calendar year, for the reason that she understood her encounter was distinctive. And even though she and her other classmates from Kansai University were being normally physically separated, “mentally, we ended up considerably closer,” she mentioned.

In the course of their keep, the pupils ended up intended to finish 32 several hours of do the job in an internship at a local corporation. But that turned out to be infeasible for the reason that of the pandemic, so instead the team volunteered at local nonprofits that were carrying out pandemic-related routines.

They did foods distribution with Just Food stuff, volunteered with Catholic Charities, worked at Sunrise Project’s group backyard garden and assisted build a dwelling just one Saturday with Habitat for Humanity. When they volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, they even bought to see the female whose dwelling they had been building.

“I felt the relationship with community men and women in that variety of volunteering things to do,” Matsuda reported. “In Japan there are not welfare products and services like that so that was a fantastic option for me to learn about how (the) American welfare method operates.”

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Hanae Matsuda participated in a Habitat for Humanity challenge a person Saturday through her 9-month trade system by means of The College of Kansas.

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Learners from Kansai University in Osaka, Japan, participated in a Habitat for Humanity task one particular Saturday for the duration of their 9-thirty day period exchange application via The University of Kansas. From left are Nao Morimoto, Nazumi Matsumoto, Rena Nakamura and Shota Watada.

Huerter stated it was complicated balancing the students’ actual physical and psychological nicely-remaining all through their keep.

“It’s been genuinely tricky and demanding, specifically for those of us who get the job done in pupil products and services and scholar programming,” he mentioned. Supplying the college students ordeals and maintaining them physically healthful was no simple undertaking.

“We did about anything at all we could assume of that was not inside and that we could kind of socially length and abide by all those protocols,” Huerter claimed.

The team had a picnic at Clinton Lake, visited the Kansas Town zoo and did a vacation light tour at the Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead in Overland Park, among the other activities. Nakamura reported she went to a church company as soon as and joined a friend’s relatives for their Thanksgiving food.

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Japanese trade college student Rena Nakamura celebrated her 22nd birthday although in The united states.

Matsuda and Nakamura stated they relished Lawrence. They significantly favored the welcoming character of the group.

“There are only a couple of Japanese in this city, but I truly feel like people’s capability to settle for all varieties of men and women (was) significantly even bigger than I expected,” Matsuda reported.

For Matsuda, the most important cultural big difference she discovered was how vocal Individuals are and how they benefit their diverse personalities. Japanese persons, she reported, have a tendency to not specific them selves and to conceal their feelings. She said she felt like she experienced numerous alternatives to give her impression to others.

Nakamura added that she was astonished by how Individuals compliment strangers on the avenue.

All round, Huerter stated he was delighted with how concerned the Japanese pupils were in the Lawrence group through the pandemic.

“I assume alternatively of sort of separating out and acquiring just 1 expertise at one particular put, they variety of saw a total gamut of what was taking place in the Lawrence local community throughout this outrageous time,” he said. “And then they truly took part in that.”