Belmont University will initiate a new relationship in May with the Japan Center for Michigan Universities (JCMU) in Hikone, Shiga Prefecture, about 50 minutes away from Kyoto. A group of 10 Belmont students with Dr. Jonathan Thorndike, Honors professor, and Dr. John Paine), professor of foreign languages and English, will spend three weeks in Japan. After one week at the JCMU, they will visit Otsu, Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima and Tokyo. The Belmont group will be joined with a group from Michigan State University. The Asian Studies Program at Belmont hopes to offer regular opportunities to study in Japan in the future, either for the May term or for the entire semester at the JCMU.
The purpose of the May-term travel-study course is to study Japanese history and literature and to learn how historical Samurai codes of honor and values may have influenced modern Japan. The group will tour the Nissan Oppama Assembly Plant in Kanagawa as well as the Bridgestone Museum of Art in Tokyo. Belmont’s cooperative program with the JCMU in Hikone allows for classroom instruction at the JCMU with field trips on weekends and afternoons. Students will begin learning the Japanese language and practice speaking basic Japanese phrases. The class will maximize on the unique opportunities created in traveling to relevant field trip sites as a primary teaching and learning model. The students will participate in lectures, class discussions, student research projects and visiting Japanese educators.
The JCMU is the product of a sister-state relationship between Shiga Prefecture, Japan, and the state of Michigan. The JCMU hosts exchange programs between Japanese and American high schools and colleges as well as conferences for business leaders: to contribute to the development of closer ties between the United States and Shiga Prefecture and Japan; to promote mutual understanding of the cultures, languages and customs of Japan and the United States in a location where people can come together for study and research; to serve as a focal point for international educational exchange open to the local community; and to carry out four major programs: a) academic program in Japanese language; b) special purpose courses, seminars and workshops; c) English language program for citizens of Shiga; d) visiting scholar program for faculty and graduate students from American colleges and universities.