The long journey was complete Monday night as 57 students and two teachers from Kanto International Senior High School in Tokyo, Japan, arrived at Lincoln Memorial University. The group was met by LMU’s Kanto Program Director Curtis Klinghoffer, Assistant Director JoAnn Russell and a handful of residential life staff members to help move them into the rooms that will be their home for the next seven weeks.The English immersion program began in earnest on Tuesday morning with orientation. LMU President Dr. B. James Dawson, Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs Evelyn Smith, Dean of Students Frank E. Smith and Director of Housing Leslie Chumley were among the administration to greet the students during orientation. In addition to the well wishes from LMU brass, the students were introduced to their instructors, received their class schedules, went on a campus tour and were issued IDs. After lunch in the LMU dining hall, the students were given the afternoon to explore campus and get acquainted with the area. Several found their way to the LMU softball game for their first truly American experience.
Students have come annually to LMU from the Kanto International Senior High School since the LMU-Kanto Program began in 1979. This group of 57 students will spend the next six weeks engaging in rigorous, immersive English studies and an extracurricular cultural program that exposes them to the richness of the culture of the Appalachian region. In addition, the group will take a three-day excursion to Washington, D.C. The students also make home stays with host families.
The home stay involves a family welcoming a Kanto student into their home for a weekend. The encounter begins with the family picking the student up Friday evening. The student must be back to campus some time on Sunday. The LMU-Kanto Program is still looking for families to host students this spring. Russell, who coordinates the home stays, says the students are looking for anything more than a look at a typical weekend at home. “They really want to see what is like to live in an American home. They aren’t looking for any big exciting side trip or anything. They are here to learn English and experience our culture.”
As much as the students gain from this experience, the benefits are reciprocal: the entire LMU community is enriched by the presence of these Japanese students who teach about their own customs and traditions.