INDIANAPOLIS — Thirty-five undergraduate students from two Japanese institutions are coming to Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis this summer to improve their English-language skills while learning more about U.S. culture.
The students will immerse themselves in English-only classes and extracurricular activities offered and organized by the International Center for Intercultural Communication, part of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. And when each school day ends, they will go “home” to the English-speaking Hoosier families serving as their summer hosts.
Twenty-two Tsuda College students will arrive Saturday to participate in what is now known as the annual Women in Leadership Intensive Summer English Program. Two weeks after the Tsuda students finish Aug. 22, the center will host 13 students from Hakuoh University, a co-ed institution. The Hakuoh Intensive Summer English Program runs Sept. 3 to 15.
For students of Tsuda College — started 100 years ago as Japan’s first college for women — their three-week intensive English-language immersion course is the latest chapter in a 20-year tradition that IUPUI will mark with a special celebration Aug. 21.
“It’s really been magnificent,” International Center for Intercultural Communication director and Chancellor’s Professor of English Ulla M. Connor said of the program that started after a chance encounter between Connor and Tsuda English professor Mary Althaus, now vice president of the Japanese college.
Twenty years ago, when Althaus suggested the ICIC-Tsuda partnership, most Japanese schools focused on exchange programs with universities either in California or on the East Coast. IUPUI is one of only three exchange programs for Tsuda students, and the only U.S. university that offers them a summer intensive English program, Connor said. About 25 students have attended the IUPUI program each year, and the school has never had difficulty recruiting students to attend.
At the request of the Japanese college, women in leadership has been the program’s focus in the past five or so years, Connor said. The Tsuda students use a mainstream book on female leaders, selected readings and academic activities specifically chosen for their inclusion of content on distinguished female leaders and their focus on developing communication skills for women in leadership roles. The class also includes guest lectures by prominent local women such as retired Eli Lilly and Co. human resources professional Joann Ingulli-Fattic and Girls Inc. director of research Catherine Cushinberry.
Althaus and members of the Japan-America Society of Indiana are scheduled to attend the Tsuda anniversary celebration. IUPUI administrators scheduled to attend include Chancellor Charles R. Bantz, School of Liberal Arts Dean Bill Blomquist and IU Associate Vice President of International Affairs Gil Latz.
This summer will mark the sixth year for the International Center for Intercultural Communication’s program for Hakuoh University. This year’s edition revolves around five U.S. culture themes that college students can relate to, such as sports and city life in the U.S. The ICIC-Hakuoh program has been the more traditional two-way exchange program.
“For students who have an interest in Japanese, studying abroad is an invaluable experience,” said Laura Woods, an IUPUI student who spent a year at Hakuoh, earning enough credits for an individualized major in Japanese. “I recommend Hakuoh University as a good place to experience Japanese college life.
“During the year that I studied at Hakuoh University, I was able to significantly improve in my Japanese language ability; and because the classes are conducted completely in Japanese, I was able to learn more quickly than I could in America,” said Woods, who is featured in a promotional spotlight on the Hakuoh University website.