A group of 19 students from Nagasaki International University in Japan has spent the last month studying American and southern culture at Troy University’s Troy Campus.
The students, who primarily study Hospitality, came over as part of a yearly partnership between TROY and the Japanese institution aimed at helping the students understand the importance of learning English and interact with those from different countries.
“They’re here for what we call the Southern Culture Program,” said Barrett Heusch, adjunct professor in Japanese for TROY’s English as a Second Language department and special programs coordinator for the Nagasaki partnership. “Every day, they take four classes in ESL. They also do other cultural things – we show them movies, we take them to computer labs, and one of the big aspects is that we provide them with conversation partners, where both American and international Troy University students sit down and talk with them.”
The students arrived in Troy on Aug. 17 and depart on Sept. 15, and they’ve experienced a variety of activities during that time: trips to Panama City Beach, the Rosa Parks Museum and Alabama Museum of History in Montgomery, a shopping mall, and even Disney World.
“It gets them out with Americans or other international students,” said Lance Noe, TROY’s ESL Director. “This program helps prepare them. In their program at Nagasaki International University, before they can graduate, they have to spend six months overseas practicing what they’re studying in Hospitality. This program is seen as a stepping stone to give them that confidence (to go overseas for) six months and to give them a kick in the pants to say, ‘You really need to study English, because you’re going to need it.’”
Representatives from the Japanese university told Noe that when students return from trips like this, they hit the ground running and are motivated to improve their English skills.
“We can teach them English, but (it doesn’t settle in) until they have to actually produce it out of their mouths with Americans,” Noe said. “And just being around new people gets them out of their shell. Sometimes they’re shy to speak English because they can’t do it perfectly. It’s a good icebreaker to allow them to make mistakes.”
Heusch said what the students will truly remember when they return to Nagasaki are their interactions with TROY students.
“The involvement of Troy University students is incredibly important,” he said.
Noe said he hopes the program can also serve as a recruiting tool.
“That’s a hope we have is recruitment, because we don’t have a large Japanese contingent at the University and this is a way to help foster that and improve that,” he said.